Digital Personal Selling
Digital personal selling is an exciting and emerging opportunity for the marketing organization. Let’s look at how you can use it, and the Digital Selling Process. Personal selling generally happens when a person sells a product, service or solution to another person or organisation; therefore there has to be a degree of one-to-one, simultaneous, asymmetric communication in order that personal selling can happen. The digital opportunity provides salespeople with the chance to exploit two key areas – direct digital communication and digital information.
The Digital Selling Process
As discussed in another lesson on marketing teacher, traditional personal selling can be thought of as a five stage process:
• Stage One – Prospecting
• Stage Two – Making First Contact
• Stage Three – The Sales Call
• Stage Four – Objection Handling
• Stage Five – Closing The Sale
So at each stage the digital salesperson needs to decide whether he or she will use the digital marketing opportunity to either gather information to make decisions, or to communicate in order to see through the five stages of the personal selling process. The Internet is ideal for prospecting!
The salesperson can prospect using popular search engines such as Google, Bing or Yahoo. Such searches can generate postcode data (ZIP codes) which can then give an indication of property prices, the level and nature of wealth in an area, people’s professions and levels of education, and much more. Then of course there will be online databases that can be used and refined in order to start the sales process.
Making First Contact for Digital Personal Selling
Making first contact used to be by telephone, letter or personal visit. Digital marketing gives the opportunity to the digital salesperson to use an array of first contact tools for communication; the digital salesperson might use targeted e-mails, social media messages, or social networking using platforms such as LinkedIn.
Digital Personal Selling: The Sales Call.
The sales call traditionally is face-to-face, or by telephone. The digital salesperson could use a whole series of blended approaches to communicate with the potential prospect; for example he or she might use Skype or video conferencing software such as Cisco’s WebEx or Adobe connect (there are many others, some of them free). The more adventurous digital salesperson might even use Second Life and undertake personal selling using an automaton or avatar. There’s also software which recognises when a potential prospect views a website; the software will pop up and give the opportunity to the potential client to gain more information; this is the beginning of the next stage of the sales process, and traditional sales approaches such as objection handling, and closing the sale will apply.
Software and the Digital Sales-force
Software also gives the opportunity to control digital sales forces. These are often called Customer Relationship Management or CRM software packages, although there are more about monitoring and measuring sales success than the traditional perspective on CRM which considers long-term communication. However CRM software and a trained salesforce will have the opportunity to communicate with and develop relationships with prospects. Examples include IBM’s content management software and others such as Salesboard.