The selling process: effective guidelines for success | Sunday Observer

The selling process: effective guidelines for success

5 February, 2023

Personal selling is a powerful tool for reaching and converting potential customers. It allows salespeople to build relationships with customers, understand their needs, and satisfy those needs. It also allows companies to provide a personalised approach and immediate feedback, which can be more effective than traditional forms of advertising. However, it is important to have a well-planned and executed strategy to derive most of the advantages of personal selling.

The process of personal selling involves persuading a potential customer to purchase a product or service predominantly through a face-to-face interaction or a telephone conversation. It is a form of direct selling that allows the salesperson to build a relationship with the customer and tailor their pitch to their specific needs.

If you are one of the millions of people who work in sales, you are aware that even the most natural salesman might find it challenging to convert potential leads into closed sales. Across sectors, various skills and expertise are required to demonstrate to potential clients that your solution is the best for their specific need.

Having a good understanding of a systematic approach to selling is of paramount importance, even if the salesperson carries all the personal traits and experience of the profession. The sales process may serve as a road map for salespeople to successfully move prospects through the sales cycle until they are converted into clients. The finest sales processes also contain phases or stages that specify how salespeople may maintain and grow customer connections.

The “seven steps of selling” developed by Dubinsky (1981) are widely recognised as a typical process in personal selling and even to this date are used in sales training throughout the world. The process covers a systematic approach to a sales cycle, from the beginning to the end. The steps stipulated in the concept are prospecting, pre-approach, approach, handling objections, close, and follow up.


The process begins with identifying and qualifying potential customers. The term used for this first step is “prospecting.” This involves researching the target market and identifying individuals or businesses that are likely to be interested in the product or service being sold.

After the potential customers have been identified, the salesperson must then establish contact with them. The tedious processes this writer used during his sales career are now beyond imagination with the arrival of the internet. With current advanced and sophisticated technologies, prospecting has become much easier.

The second step is to prepare yourself to meet the prospective customer before approaching. This includes analysis of the customers’ general behaviour, such as abilities, needs, and wants, so that the process of sale is more relevant to the customer.

A good pre-approach strategy lays the path for the future steps in the process. More information about the customer may produce better results. Hence, it is more effective if the study includes even personal information such as age, likes and dislikes, education, hobbies, and social life.

Approaching your customer is one of the most important elements in the process. Making the best impression at your first meeting can be useful throughout the sales conversation, but it also helps close the sale ultimately. This involves getting the potential buyer or client to interact with you by personalising your meeting to establish rapport.

The customer invariably notices the way you greet him or her, the way you walk in, and the manner in which you start the conversation. As the old saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a great first impression. Therefore, be conscious and prepare yourself for the first few minutes with the customer to derive the best result.

The next step is to make a presentation and, if necessary, a demonstration to the customer. A good sales presentation is the key to landing a new client or customer. Present your offers, products, and services in a way that will inspire your customer, or a panel of decision makers, to act. A great sales presentation must always be short and to the point.

Overpitch or exaggeration may create doubts in the customer’s mind. Also, you must not rely on a memorised script for the presentation. The salesman must take a cue from the pre-approach research and present the product or service with conviction and according to the needs of the customer. Delivering the prepared presentation convincingly requires data, facts, descriptions, and relevant personal experience on the topic.

Both in personal and group presentations, the presenter must understand that if the subject matter is technical or heavily descriptive, the listeners may quickly become bored and soon become uninterested. Therefore, the presenter must not try to cover too much material too quickly. As a result, pace out and be entertaining to break up the monotony.


During your entire career as a salesman, you will not find a customer who will not raise an objection about the product, the company, or any other related matter. Simply put, if they do not have reservations about the price, value, relevance to their situation of your solution, or their purchasing ability, either you are selling a product that has a monopoly in the market or they would have already bought it.

On the other hand, an objection is a clear indication that the customer is genuinely interested in your product or service. This means that an objection is a strong buying signal that should be handled skillfully.

Prospects typically express their concerns in a variety of ways. They usually fall into one of four categories: not enough money, no true need, no urgency, and lack of trust in the seller’s reputation. The salesman’s skill in responding to any of these objections is a core factor in the customer’s buying decision.

Therefore, you must never try to evade or sidestep an objection from a customer and respond to the customer sincerely, again using the information obtained through your pre-approach research.

The final and most important phase of convincing a prospect to accept a transaction and make a purchase or sign a contract is the closing of the sale. It is how salespeople meet their goals and, ultimately, how organisations earn income. Hence, closing is the make-or-break moment in a sales presentation.

At this stage, you reach the moment where the prospect makes a choice after cultivating your lead and going through the seven-step selling process. However, if you have successfully completed the preceding major stages, sales closing should be a foregone conclusion.

There are many closing techniques developed by professionals over the years and currently being practised throughout the world by salespeople successfully. Typically, regardless of experience or skill, salesmen may feel apprehensive about the close due to the fear of losing. Nevertheless, professional salespeople can close a sale successfully even with this feeling of risk.

Follow-up steps 

Although the closing is considered the final act in the process, your work as the salesperson does not end after the sale is completed. The follow-up step keeps you in touch with closed customers, not just for possible repeat business but also for referrals.

You must remember that it is always more convenient to sell to a customer with whom you have already dealt than to find a new one. Hence, maintaining relationships by following up with customers is also important. Research has revealed that retaining current customers is six to seven times less expensive than obtaining new ones.

Using the sales process enhances client confidence, ensures that customer needs are addressed, and boosts corporate profitability. There is no one-size-fits-all selling procedure, but when the salesman follows the step-by-step process, he is conscious of the sales conversation throughout the transaction and beyond.