When to Use Personal Selling
Not every product or service is a good fit for personal selling. It’s an expensive technique because the proceeds of the person-to-person sales must cover the salary of the sales representative—on top of all the other costs of doing business. Whether or not a company uses personal selling as part of its marketing mix depends on its business model. Most often companies use personal selling when their products or services are highly technical, specialized, or costly—such as complex software systems, business consulting services, homes, and automobiles.
In addition, there are certain conditions that favor personal selling:
- Product situation: Personal selling is relatively more effective and economical when a product is of a high unit value, when it is in the introductory stage of its life cycle, when it requires personal attention to match consumer needs, or when it requires product demonstration or after-sales services.
- Market situation: Personal selling is effective when a firm serves a small number of large-size buyers or a small/local market. Also, it can be used effectively when an indirect channel of distribution is used for selling to agents or middlemen.
- Company situation: Personal selling is best utilized when a firm is not in a good position to use impersonal communication media, or it cannot afford to have a large and regular advertising outlay.
- Consumer behavior situation: Personal selling should be adopted by a company when purchases are valuable but infrequent, or when competition is at such a level that consumers require persuasion and follow-up.
It’s important to keep in mind that personal selling is most effective when a company has established an effective sales-force management system together with a sales force of the right design, size, and structure. Recruitment, selection, training, supervision, and evaluation of the sales force also obviously play an important role in the effectiveness of this marketing communication method.