Selling is one element of marketing, which is the process of developing a product or service offering, communicating the benefits through promotions and managing the ongoing exchange of value with targeted customers. Selling has some key advantages over other forms of the promotional component, which makes it very important for customer-driven organizations.

Prospect Qualification

Whereas marketing research is used to identify market segments for advertising, salespeople use more direct, question-driven approaches to qualify top prospects for selling opportunities. A few simple qualifying criteria help sellers ensure they invest time in the most profitable opportunities. Need for the product, ability to pay, authority to buy and willingness to buy are four common categories of criteria sellers commonly consider when initially screening prospects.

Art of Persuasion

Selling is often referred to as the art of persuasion. As opposed to manipulation, persuasion means convincing someone to make a purchase because it is in his best interests. This results from a customer-centric process where the seller builds trust with a prospect, asks needed discovery questions, deals with any buyer concerns and makes appropriate recommendations to suit. Emphasizing the benefits of a solution to best satisfy a customer's needs is key in persuasive selling.

Interactive Communication

Promotional tools of advertising, public relations and selling all involve communication. With selling, the communication is two-way. Prior to persuasion, an effective seller asks questions and listens to the needs of a prospect. He also gets to address concerns that a paid advertising or PR communication doesn't allow. This is a huge advantage in trying to generate sales from customers struggling with doubt or not immediately recognizing the value of a solution.

Personal Relationships

Building personal relationships is part of the role of salespeople and the selling process. Traditional selling of old includes pressure sales tactics and strong motives to create one-time sales. In the early 21st century, though, companies invest so much in attracting new customers that they usually expect to get ongoing purchases from them. Salespeople have significant responsibility in this through follow-up contact and inquiries about new or evolving needs customers have.