Is personal selling part of public relations?
How to become a convincing and effective salesperson
Personal selling is one of the most important and oldest business strategies. This promotional technique is intended to convince any customer to buy and to increase customer loyalty to the brand, building stable and long-lasting relationships through a process of engagement that involves personal and human contact. Not long ago, companies had the sole mission of selling, regardless of the customer’s needs, and the sales strategies used were not always the most appropriate. As a result of market evolution and a more competitive environment, personal selling has evolved and has become a key element in the public relations strategies of any business.
Nowadays, personal selling is also known as face-to-face selling and requires a deep understanding of the consumer’s needs, a wide capacity for active listening, and the power of persuasion. It is a strategy in which interpersonal communication is a priority, resulting in immediate feedback and the opportunity to solve customers’ concerns on the go. With personal selling, the perceived value of what is offered increases, and, consequently, the consumer’s resistance to the message decreases.
The new digital age and associated difficulties
We live in a constantly shifting digital environment, and digitalization has led to direct communications between brands and publics, new ways of selling, and new challenges for companies. The increasingly competitive market demands are generating new channels of communication that diminishes personal selling as it has been known in the past. New channels of interaction with customers (Whatsapp, chatbots, newsletters ….) are threatening the results of traditional, popular, and close personal selling. Therefore, business strategies are now focused on the user experience, seeking a long-term relationship through face-to-face contact, and evolving towards sales models that are much more individualized and personal.
According to the way of proceeding and the communication objective of public relationships, personal selling becomes an essential element of public relations in any company. Oral communication and the direct and personal interaction used in personal selling are key for the pursuit of potential clients, a better engagement with current ones, and generation of effective information.
Each person has different needs and finds themselves in different situations. That is why it is important to bear in mind that there is a long process behind every customer relationship to build customer loyalty and make them brand ambassadors. In the end, personal selling must always be personalized according to the customer, their circumstances, and their level of acceptance. In this context, the sales team must be constant and consistent in the way it builds a relationship with customers, approaches, and serves them. The goal is to establish an effective and authentic relationships with them.
4 types of personal selling for successful public relationships
Personal selling is the most effective strategy at most stages of the customer loyalty to the brand and purchase consolidation process, especially when it comes to creating preferences, convincing, and calling to action. The key factors of this promotional strategy are:
- Personal meeting: Personal selling involves an immediate and interactive contact between two or more people. This meeting offers the possibility for both parties to evaluate and observe the needs and characteristics of the other to make the necessary adjustments. For example, in the public relationships sector, professionals should prioritize personal meetings that allow them to have closer contact with the journalist.
- Nurturing a relationship: It allows all types of relationships to be established, from the one aimed at purchasing the long-term loyalty of a client to the one that evolves into a brand ambassador. In the public relationships sector, for example, the link established between the professional and the client and/or journalist must be carefully nurtured daily. It is necessary to give the journalist the information they are looking for in their article to make the relationship a win-win. We must be intermediaries between what our client wants to report and what the journalist wants to receive. We are experts in media content and we must know the preferences of both sides and find a mutual agreement.
- Transparent communication: the company not only should communicate information about products and/or services, but also share details about the company’s values and ethics, and its philosophy and modus operandi. Everything that is communicated should follow the same tone. It will be possible to establish a healthy and loyal relationship with customers only with transparent messages.
- Follow-up and closure: companies need to know how to identify the attitudes and reactions of their customers. A follow-up call or meeting during strategic points in the process is key to knowing how the relationship with the customer is progressing or if any relevant changes should be considered.
Without a face-to-face communication, our message can be meaningless and ineffective. Personal selling humanizes the conversion process for companies and allows businesses to solve problems naturally and transparently. At the end of the day, during the communication process, as a fundamental part of preserving a company’s positive image, the ability to be able to communicate the values and the story behind the brand beyond the products and services it offers is essential. This promotional strategy is key to ensuring that the brand strategy is coherent and that the message is communicated correctly to customers, investors, and society in general.
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