Advantages and Disadvantages of Personal Selling

Advantages of Personal Selling

Personal selling can prove to be a used promotional method in several ways including:

  • Two-Way Form of Communications – Unlike other promotional methods, personal selling is a two-way form of communication, which enables a salesperson to adjust the message as she/he gains feedback from the customer (e.g., adjust message if customer does not fully understand how the product works).
  • Effective in Building Personal Relationships – The interactive nature of personal selling makes it the most effective promotional method for building relationships with customers, which is particularly important when purchases take a considerable amount of time to complete (e.g., business-to-business purchasing).
  • Important in International Sales – Building relationships is also a critical part of the personal selling process when doing business internationally, especially in such area as Asia and Latin America, where personal relationships between buyer and seller are often more important than seeking the best business deal.
  • Best Promotion for Hard to Reach Customers – Personal selling is the most practical promotional option for reaching customers who are not easily reached through other methods (e.g., do not response to advertising, public relations, and sales promotions).
Disadvantages of Personal Selling

Personal selling has a number of drawbacks that may not make it the best promotional option for some organizations including:

  • Negative Perception of Salespeople – Possibly the biggest disadvantage of personal selling is the degree to which this promotional method is misunderstood as many view salespeople as being overly aggressive or even downright annoying, and only interested in making a quick sale.
  • Expensive to Maintain a Sales Force – Organizations face numerous expenses when utilizing this method of promotion including:
    • High cost-per-action (CPA) – As noted in the Types of Promotion Tutorial, promotional success can often be evaluated using the cost-per-action (CPA) measure.  For an organization, the money spent to support a sales staff can be steep. These costs include compensation (e.g., salary, commission, bonus), providing support materials (e.g., product literature), allowances for entertainment spending, travel expenses, office supplies, telecommunication, and much more.
    • Training Costs – The cost of training a sales team can also be quite high and include such expenses as travel, hotel, meals, and training equipment, and while salespeople are in training, an organization is most likely also paying certain fixed costs including the trainee’s salary, health care, and other expenses (e.g., mobile phone).
  • High Job Turnover – Job turnover in sales is generally much higher than it is for other marketing positions. Turnover may leave a company without representation in a customer group (e.g., customers in a geographic region) for an extended period of time while the company recruits and trains a replacement.