Personal selling allows small businesses to offer precise products and services to their customers. It is most effective for promoting complex items that require close communication with customers. For example, a manufacturer of factory equipment might use a personal-selling strategy, tasking its sales team with contacting potential buyers, offering them information about the product line, supplying continuing assistance during the life of the product, and eventually encouraging existing customers to upgrade to new models.


The key to successful personal selling is establishing long-term, personal relationships with customers. Such relationships take time to manage, which is why personal selling is a relatively expensive endeavor. Training your staff to handle complex product sales is also costly. For example, a single sales presentation can be many months in the making, requiring numerous calls to the potential customer to set up, not to mention many follow-up calls to close the sale.

Initial Contact

Prospecting to identify leads typically is the first step in a business's personal-selling strategy. For example, a vacuum-cleaner sales team might first advertise its products in regional magazines and on local radio and television stations. The advertisements offer an incentive, such as a temporary discount, to consumers who contact telemarketers, who determine the needs, interests, buying authority and financial capabilities of the potential customers.

Personal Selling Stage

Once qualified leads are available, the relatively expensive personal-selling marketing strategy kicks in. For example, the telemarketing section of the vacuum sales team would turn customers over to the personal-selling section of the sales team, which directs consumers to the models that suit their needs, offering demonstrations and guiding them toward making a purchase.


Personal selling is an effective marketing strategy, but only if conditions are right in your target market. The group of consumers you plan to target must be small enough for your sales staff to handle. If your potential customer base is large, it might be more effective to focus on a different marketing strategy, such as a direct mail campaign or telemarketing. It’s also important that the consumers live in a single region. Otherwise, travel and overhead costs might make it difficult to carry out your personal-selling campaign.

Basic Skills

If your sales staff treats customers like prey, swarming on them as they walk in the door, people will avoid your business. But if a salesperson takes on the role of a friendly consultant, assisting rather than pressuring customers, people will be put at ease. Specifically, a neutral tone and normal conversation speech improves your odds of making a sale, according to the book “Marketing: Concepts and Strategies,” by William M. Pride and O. C. Ferrell.