Monday, 2 January 2012

The Personal Selling Process

...and how it applies to Jooble

Mid December I got an email from a man named Serge Lavange who works for a company called Jooble. He asked if I would link to Jooble on my blog in exchange for him promoting my blog with a banner ad for a month on Jooble. I agreed, technically making this my second Consulting For Swag article that I'm posting, the first being FaceGuard. I know, I know, this is not exactly a consulting job, but it's close enough because I'm using the opportunity to discuss the Personal Selling Process. Similar to the 4 Ps of Marketing, this is an academic marketing model that is very practical when it comes to real-world application.

Personal Selling

This is arguably the most expensive way of promoting a product, but depending on what you're selling it can be the most effective promotional tool.  It is estimated that on average a sales call costs a company upwards of $300, but having a salesman explain the benefits of your product or service in person allows the salesman to customize the message to the customer's needs.  This is especially useful for selling large products or large amounts of small products to large customers.  You probably wouldn't use personal selling, for example, in a grocery store:

it probably wouldn't be worth going through the personal selling process for smaller sales, like a banana.
" may also appreciate that the banana is completely impervious
to the mighty blast of the laser pointer..."

So without further ado, let's look at the 7 steps of the Personal Selling Process:

1. Prospecting 

Personal selling begins with developing a list of potential customers. When Al Gore invented the Internet, this task became immeasurably easier than before. Lists of business customers can be compiled through website registrations, Internet searches, trade shows, or purchasing commercially available databases of contacts. It is important that your prospecting develop lists of likely customers.  Purchasing a large database of small businesses can be inefficient if you have a product that targets specific customers. If you're selling diapers wholesale, home electronics retailers won't be interested.

The sales staff from Jooble are looking to increase their web presence by having bloggers link to them. Jooble is looking for job seekers, which isn't exactly a segmented demographic. By having links to their site from a variety of blogs, they probably hope to reach a wide market. Blogs are an excellent way of getting that sort of exposure, and it's easy to find lists of blogs through standard search techniques.

2. Pre-Approach 

The work that goes in before a sales call can be quite extensive. Personal selling is often used for business customers who are able to make larger purchases than wholesale customers, and this means it is worth the time to find out what the clients' needs are and what their specific needs and concerns will be.  Personal selling is a promotional method that gives the greatest flexibility in tailoring the message and addressing concerns, so it's important that you arrive armed with the information you need.  In addition, there is an old adage, "friends sell to friends." Finding out who you're going to be selling to, and a few of their interests can help you have something to talk about to form a working relationship.

Serge, the man who contacted me from Jooble, started by reading my blog and noting a few articles he could comment on in his email to me. I was much more disposed to respond to him knowing that he had read what I had to say.

3. Approach 

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and most people make their minds up about another person within just a few seconds. The approach is an important part of the sales call because you have a chance to establish trust with your client. Asking questions to get the prospective client talking, being warm and friendly with a firm handshake can help.

Companies can use personal selling techniques at a slightly reduced cost by making the approach and the presentation through call centers or through the Internet.  This changes the dynamics of making a first impression. When I was approached by Jooble, it was through e-mail. Serge told me that he had read my blog and found it interesting, and made a few general comments on it.  This stopped me from dismissing the email out of hand, though I was still suspicious that he had actually read the articles. It seemed likely that he had just scanned the article headlines and wrote that they were "interesting and well written" though it was still enough of a warm introduction to get me to respond.

4. Presentation 

This is the part of the personal selling that people intuitively focus on.  The salesman tells the story of the benefits and value of their product to the prospective client. It can be tempting to deliver the presentation as a monologue, but don't forget that the strength of personal selling is adaptability. By adapting the presentation to specifically address the prospect's needs and concerns the prospect will know that you care about what they need.

The presentation I received was through email, which is slightly different to tailor.  Serge told me of the trouble he was having finding blogs willing to link to Jooble, and asked if I thought a link would fit with my blog.  This personal question and invitation to respond was enough to get me engaged in a conversation.  I was able to articulate what I would like in exchange and my concerns about how to make it fit thematically into the blog instead of just shoehorning an unrelated link into my content. It worked out, which is why I'm writing this.

5. Overcoming Objections 

This is where the personal selling process has a great advantage over other sales methods.  Uncovering objections and overcoming them is the test of a good salesman. Common techniques for overcoming objections include:
  • Acknowledge objection and convert: "Yes our prices are higher because of our amazing quality."
  • Postpone: "We'll look at the price in just a bit but first let me ask about your needs in this area..."
  • Agreeing and Neutralize: "I see how you feel, others have felt the same until they realized our competitor actually burns rain forests for fun."
  • Accept the objection: Sometimes you have no choice.
  • Denial: "Actually that's not quite accurate.  In fact, our product...."
  • Ignore the objection: "Your question about how soon we can deliver reminds me of a story..."
The important thing is to try and treat objections as inquiries for more information.  The last thing you want is to start arguing with a client.

6. Closing the Sale

A prospect is just a prospect unless you close the sale, and it's best not to let it drag on too long. It can be as simple as "Now that we've gone through the presentation, shall I bring out the paperwork?" or "If you have no further concerns, how many should I put you down for?" The important thing is to close, making sure everyone is clear on what has been agreed upon.

With Serge from Jooble, having the terms and expectations of what each of us were to deliver in writing was important to ensuring that our expectations were met.

7. Follow-up 

An often overlooked aspect of sales, but very important, especially with business customers or big-ticket items.  Follow-up means ensuring that the product arrived on time, was installed correctly, and that there were no problems with it.  This is key to having satisfied customers, and can pave the way to future sales and referrals.

And that, my friends, is an overview of the personal selling process and how it relates to Serge at Jooble.  I hope you all find it useful.  So now that I've gone through this nice presentation, click here to find out how you could get an article featured here, yourself!

Happy New Year!

Jooble is a job search engine and it operates in 48+ countries around the world and we continue to expand its services. Here is the list of countries we work in: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Chilie, China Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Spain, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zeland, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia , South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey , Venezuela, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States


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