Advertising-Selling Balance and Sales Talent Requirements
Of all the marketing functions, selling is the dynamic and creative one. As someone has said: “Nothing happens until something is sold.” Selling can be done through personal contact, or by advertising or display.
Some products are best sold by advertising. These include soap, cereals, cigarettes, beer – goods that are low-priced, broadly used, and highly standardized. They are mass-produced, serve a mass market, and call for mass selling methods.
In the industrial field we depend more on personal selling, for these goods are more technical, higher priced, less standardized and often built to exacting specifications. Advertising cannot tell the complete story of a specialized product to a discriminating engineering-minded industrial buyer.
We may conclude, therefore, that the more technical, high-priced, and built-to-order the product is, the more we must depend on personal selling to analyze the potential buyer-user’s needs and to communicate its merits and values to him; also to convey to his own plant exactly what is wanted.
We must also assume that prevailing patterns exist because the experiences of successful firms have shown that, depending on their products’ characteristics, an optimum economical allocation of sales effort between the various methods or media is possible. Where advertising has been used more effectively, the need for personal selling has declined, and vice versa.
Ten Levels of Selling
As we review, therefore, the results of these relationships, that is, the balances of effort between advertising and selling (“the promotional mix,” or “persuasion system”), we find that as product technicality and typical dollar amount of sale have varied, these levels or grades of salesmen have emerged. As the owner-manager of a small plant, you are probably already familiar with the ten levels of selling. Your sales trainees may not be. In training them, you will want to emphasize levels 7, 8, 9, and 10.
The lowest form of “selling” is the “Coin-Machine,” a purely mechanical process. It is exchange of money for value, but is it selling? It is neither advertising nor selling; but it is marketing.
The second level might be the “Variety Store” – display is the actual sales force and the transaction nearly a mechanical process. The salesperson is almost an automaton.
A third level might be the “Finder” – a clerk, at the customer’s request, locates and exhibits the product for sale. The premium here is on locating the merchandise.
A fourth level could be the “Order Taker – an effortless way of learning from the customer what he might need as of a particular moment, and than providing it.
The fifth level would be the “Suggested – someone who makes some effort to get the customer to buy more as of the moment. Drug and department stores seek to develop this kind of selling.
The sixth would be the Presser” – the high-pressure artist who seeks to sell a maximum order on his first try – since he will probably not see the same customer twice, he is often ruthless.
The seventh might be called the “Adviser” – for he can be of assistance to the customer who knows his problem and states it clearly.
Eighth in rank is the “Problem Solver” – who, given the problem by the prospect, has the necessary training or experience to analyze it and to help solve it.
Ninth is the “Discoverer” – who seeks out obvious sales opportunities, possibly unknown to the prospective purchaser and explains how his product will solve them.
Tenth is the “Creator” – the salesman who, working with the customer, discovers, isolates and defines the problem, and presents a solution; all based on professional approach, procedure, and ethics.
1. The lower eight, from bottom to top, are primarily restricted to retailing, to the consumer goods or services field. The upper levels involve industrial goods primarily.
2 .In these first eight levels, the buyer usually approaches the seller – typically, he already knows what he needs and wants.
3. Only as we approach the top levels do we begin to see the analytical services required of the typical salesman of industrial goods.
4. Only the upper two are truly analytical, technical in approach; only these two call for truly professional knowledge and methods.
Rifle vs. Shotgun Advertising
Let’s consider the advertising program’s contribution to the promotional mix – not so much in terms of message but of media, since the purpose is to reach the right people; the method is to use the right medium or media to reach each of these effectively. We must therefore, figure out who reads, sees, and listens to what, then plan the advertising campaign accordingly.
We know generally, and publishers are continually researching for accuracy, who reads (in terms of business duties and responsibilities) each business or technical publication. The task, therefore, is to aim at a particular group or groups, depending on goal and budget. All of us know that assuming correct choice of target, a solid shot at the right one is better than scattered shots at a flock.