All marketing needs some sort of selling to get products in customer hands. Whether it’s direct selling, in retail stores, through the web or personal selling, marketing and selling are interlinked.
Our focus in this article is personal selling - but what is personal selling? Personal selling is what happens when a sales representative meets a potential buyer to make a sale. Personal selling requires building a relationship with the customers and is generally done face to face.
In personal selling, you create a relationship with the customer to walk them through the product and the value the product provides. Personal selling creates a selling point, conversions and encourages customer loyalty.
Personal selling has two main ways to engage with the customers: direct (via outbound sales and calls), or digital (via email and other digital means).
The direct method is highly effective, a sales force goes to the clients to meet face to face and build a relationship.
This relationship can help get the sale, but is expensive because of costs tied to employment and overhead.
The digital method is more common because it carries a lower expense, but is generally less effective. The goal in the digital method is still to develop a relationship with your customer, but because you're doing it digitally, it can take longer with less impact.
There are tips in the personal selling process to keep in mind.
- Define your objectives; set your goals and keep your eyes on them.
- Lots of research; the more you research the market, the better. Who is your target? What makes your product different from the competition?
- Make your outreach personalized; segment your customers and make sure what they get is relevant.
- Select the right outlets for your campaigns based on your customer segments
Implementing Personal Selling
There are four elements that need to consider in personal selling:
- Customer needs: what are the customer's needs to be addressed
- Customer confidence: the customer’s ability to take an action.
- Human element: physical presence of both the salesperson and the customer
- Customer response: is the customer impression positive or negative.
The beauty of personal selling is that it's not static, it can change as quickly as you notice your customers changing. Personal selling can also help you keep close tabs on customers and inform product decisions. By talking to your customers regularly, you're able to provide feedback to the product teams for new features or adjustments.
Digital Methods of Personal Selling
Live chat can increase conversion. Live chat educates customers, gets them over objections and allows for a personal touch to a conversation.
Live chat is useful for both lead generation and customer support. When you are using live chat for lead generation, collect the information you need to qualify the lead to see if selling makes sense. This will classify and organize your leads so you know where to spend your time and energy.
When you are using live chat for customer support ensure you understand the issue the customer has. Address issues and resolving problems as quick as possible, or let the customer know if it can't be resolved.
As you talk to more customers, build a database of common issues and questions. You can use this database to create an FAQ and lower the amount of work you have to do. The beginning is going to be hard, but as you see common questions and issues, you'll be able to effectively handle most customer issues.
Psychology shows us that people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior in a given situation. Social influence is seen in the tendency of large groups to conform to group choices, wether they are correct or incorrect . This is social proof or informational social influence. In ecommerce, social proof is used to improve a business’s effectiveness in marketing by focusing on social media.
Types of social proof:
Expert: Arguments, statements or recommendations given on a product by a perceived expert on a particular matter. When experts recommend you, customers are more willing to trust it because someone with greater knowledge supports it. Think of the toothpaste commercials "9 out of 10 dentists recommend this toothpaste."
Celebrity: Focused on popularity and influence. Celebrity social proof occurs when a celebrity, influencer or any form of popular persona, endorses a product or brand. For example: when Kim Kardashian tweets out her recommendation for make-up. She's getting paid for it but her followers are more likely to buy the product.
User: Users advocating you, generally as testimonials of their purchase. The shared experiences of the users will help new customers to feel the confidence they need to make the buy themselves. This can be done via reviews (like Yelp) or more direct testimonials on your site.
Wisdom of the crowd: The crowd can’t be wrong... right? When we see a large number of people doing something, we tend to think there’s a good reason for it. This happens at popular restaurants all the time - the ones with lines out the door must be the best!
Using social proof to increase conversion:
- Interact with experts so that they are aware of your product. Ask them for quotes or their thoughts on the product and use those quotes in your marketing.
- Don't be shy about your success. Show appreciate whenever your products are mentioned by an influencer, institution or press. If you are nominated or win any award saying thanks publicly is a nice way to make people aware of your success. This public validation builds social proof.
- Feature testimonials and your best customer reviews; few things are more persuasive than customer reviews. People like to read comments before making a purchase, so give them something good to read
- If you reach an important social milestone, let's say, ten thousand followers; show your gratitude. Let your fanbase know you appreciate them and these achievements mean a lot for you.
- Encourage the exposure of your brand by users on social media. If someone tweets about how much they love your product you should retweet them or even reply how much you appreciate their kind words - engaging with your customers can go a long way to build advocacy.
- Get verified by your social platforms - having that blue checkmark gives you validation.
- If you have good numbers, show them to the public. When you see a post with lots of likes or accounts with lots of followers you take into consideration that they have good or interesting content.
There are many tools and strategies to increase conversion. Tactics like personal selling, live chats and social proof are important; but knowing when to use each is even more important. Think through each type and what would work for your user base. Then start testing for results!