Not so long ago, salespeople worked in an environment where there was continuously expanding demand.  Populations were rapidly expanding and so was purchasing power.  The age of quality suppliers had not yet arrived.  Thus, salespeople had a luxury of selling to one customer and then find another.  The idea that you should concentrate on referral and repeat business had not yet become the focus as it is today. 


            Today, salespeople have adopted the same principles of marketing that evolved and are shown in Figure 1 below.  At the same time, they adopted the marketing concept philosophy which placed a focus on customer satisfaction vs. the old way of selling which focused on the product/service.


Today’s Personal Selling Philosophy


            Personal selling today involves person-to-person communication with a prospect (potential customer).  It is a process of developing customer relationships, discovering customer needs, matching the appropriate products with these needs, and communicating benefits through several types of presentations:


1.            Informing presentations- used to maintain and develop existing customers (repeat/referrals)

2.            Reminding presentations - used to maintain and develop existing customers (repeat/referrals).

3.            Persuading presentations – Presentation and Demonstrations used to convert potential customers (prospects) into existing customers.  In other words, used to make the sale. Presentation Strategies are used to set several objectives for each sales call.

            Note:  In HA – 400, we will focus on Persuading Presentations.



            The development of a personal selling philosophy involves three things:


1.         Adopt the marketing concept.

2.         Value personal selling (as a contribution to society and an honorable profession)

3.         Assume the role of “Consultative Seller” or a problem-solver and partner in helping customers make appropriate buying decisions (those that satisfy their needs and solve their problems).



Time Period Marketing Focus Selling Focus
1920 to 1955

Product Concept.  It was felt that newer, improved products promoted by advertising and personal sales would achieve profits.

Product orientation is the focus of organizations


Traditional Selling.  Concentration on new prospects, “selling” techniques.  It was a time of focusing on the selling process itself.

Negotiation tactics are manipulation oriented or “win/lose.”


1955 to 1965 Marketing Concept. Organizations determine needs and wants of target markets and adapt themselves to delivering desired satisfaction.  Customer orientation replaces product orientation from previous period.


Traditional Selling Expanded.

More organizations recognize that the salesperson is in a position to collect product, market, and service information regarding the buyer’s needs.


1965 to 1980

Marketing Concept Expansion # 1

Mass markets are breaking into target markets


Consultative Selling Basic

Salespeople are becoming diagnosticians of customers’ needs as well as consultants offering well-considered recommendations.

Buyer needs are identified through two-way communications-a consultative approach.

Negotiation tactics (Negotiation as a “win/win” tactic) replace manipulation tactics used in the earlier period.


1980 to 1990

Marketing Concept Expansion # 2

Marketing enters the era of being strategically focused and important to the well-being of the total organization. A greater emphasis on market niches creates the need for greater structure and more emphasis on planning.



Consultative Selling Refines with Strategic Selling

The evolution of a more complex selling environment.

Strategy is given as much attention as selling tactics (Consultative Selling is a form of tactics –face to face interaction with the customer).

Product-Positioning is given more attention by the seller.


1990 to Present

Marketing Concept Expansion # 3

This is the era of “alliances” with preferred suppliers.  With the Quality movement of the mid-1980s now fully accepted, high quality suppliers are sought.

Alliances are sought with a few “preferred” customers who are committed and permanently linked with the seller (supplier). These partnerships will expand in the future. 



Consultative Selling Refines with Partnership Selling

Salespeople are encouraged to think of everything they say or do in the context of their long-term, high quality partnership with individual customers.  Salesforce (SFA) automation provides specific customer information

Greater emphasis on total quality relationships  that result in repeat business and referrals.(Often relationship plans and strategies are created).

This pool of long-term relationships are groomed into future “partnerships/alliances.”




Evolution of Personal Selling 1920 to Present

(Note: Dates above are Approximate- Types of Selling Overlap with the Oldest Still Practiced today)