Advantages & Disadvantages of Personal Selling

by Rick Suttle; Updated January 16, 2018
Personal selling allows the seller to convey more information than other promotions.

Compared to advertising and online sales, speaking to customers in person can give you more control over the sales process, and often an advantage. This is particularly true when competition is intense, when there is a long buying cycle, or when companies are selling highly technical products or expensive products with lots of options. Personal selling also works well when there are multiple decision makers involved in the buying process. Whatever the case, competitors in your industry will likely be incurring the same advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, learn to use personal selling in the right situations.

Advantage: Convey More Information

You can convey more information with personal selling than with other forms of promotion, like advertising. A personal sales call lasts longer than any ad. Therefore, you have time to discuss the intricacies of your product. Personal selling is particularly advantageous when working with products of higher value You may need to convince buyers more with more expensive items and may need to meet with them more often to create a rapport. Most companies use laptop presentations, demonstrations and highly detailed product information when selling items such as computers, medical equipment and industrial products. Pharmaceutical reps can also better discuss the biological effects and advantages of certain new drugs.

Advantage: Create More Impact

Personal selling has a greater impact on buyers than advertising or direct mail. The customer does not have to wait to get his questions answered. He can learn what he needs to know right then and there. You as a seller also get a better feel for what the customer wants. You can suggest certain products if you have an extensive product line or tailor your services, such as consulting, to the client's particular needs. You also know what the customer's key objections are on each sell. For example, a customer may be satisfied with his current industrial adhesive tape supplier. They may sell their products for less. However, your company may sell adhesives that last longer and, therefore, cost less in the long run. Subsequently, you can address those key objections and make the sale.

Disadvantage: Limited Reach

One disadvantage of personal selling is that you cannot reach as many customers as quickly. Therefore, it will take longer to build awareness of your brand and products, especially if you use personal selling exclusively. Sales reps have to cover one territory or market at a time. As a sales person, for example, you may only be able to speak to 25 prospects a day and make three to five presentations. Reach can be particularly limited in rural areas where fewer prospects are located. One way around the limited reach of personal selling is to use inside sales reps for the smaller markets. Inside sales reps can make a greater number of calls.

Disadvantage: It's Expensive

Personal selling is also expensive, especially when considering the salesperson's salary, commission, bonus and travel time. Some sales reps even travel to other cities by plane. Companies incur a high cost per action with personal selling. These costs are incurred regardless of whether the sales person makes the sale. Additionally, it costs a lot of money to train your sales reps, teaching them about various products and sales procedures. That is why it best to weigh the pros and cons of personal selling versus other promotional methods.

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