Communication Styles for Purchasing Decisions

Modified: 18th May 2020
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PART A: Knowledge and Skill Requirements of Personal Selling

Question 1: Three different types of purchasing decisions

There are 3 different types of purchasing decisions with following 8 steps of buying process: recognizing a need (step 1), defining the type of product needed (step 2), developing product specifications (step 3), searching for qualified suppliers (step 4), acquiring and analysing proposals (step 5), evaluating proposals and selecting a supplier (step 6), placing an order and receiving the product (step 7) and evaluating product performance (step 8). Many purchase decisions are made without going through all the steps above (Stephen & John 2011).

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New tasks: when a customer first time come and buy the product or service, a new task will occur. Salesperson plays important role in this process as they will provide the knowledge about the product/service to customer, understand customer needs and give advices to them. Many people will be involved in this process and spend time for seeking the information and decide on the purchase (it might takes months or years to make decision). It is a complex and high involvement purchasing decision. It is very important to salesperson to realizing customer’s needs in the initial buying process steps in the new task situation. It helps customers understand the characteristic of product and salesperson can take advantage of creeping commitment. After the purchase, the last step post purchase evaluation is also important as customers can evaluate the product’s result and can make the same decision for the same product for the future purchase. Key steps in buying process are 1, 2, 3, 8.

For example first home buyer want to buy a house so they need to come to the real estate agent and ask about the information that they are looking for. There are many people involved and it is extensive decision making as they want the best benefits.

Straight rebuys: customer have purchased the product/service before, they have the knowledge and understand product. They buy the same product/service from the same organisation used in the past. It is low involvement decision, only involves a person with a little research effort and not take a long time to make decision (probably in a day). Because they are returned customers as salesperson know the need so the latter steps from developing product specification in buying process are more important. Key steps in buying process are 5, 6 ,7, 8. To maintain the relationship with loyalty customers, salespeople need to make sure the products delivery on time and customers still satisfy with that products.

For example customer is using Ester Lauder skin care before and come to Famer to purchase the same product and salesperson have to satisfied customers and look after to meet their needs.

Modified rebuys: customer have purchased the product in the past but want to change the need or interested in new products. It requires a little involvement with a bit amount time of searching before purchasing depend on customer experience and knowledge about the product. The initial steps are very important in this type from the developing product specification to make sure all of customer’s needs are satisfied, salespeople need to act immediately if there is any problem arises or the requirement changes. Key steps in buying process are 3, 4, 5, 6, 8.

For example buying clothes, customers know about the product but not notice about the brand.


Question 2: The concept of communication styles

Communication is the act of transmitting verbal and nonverbal information and understand between seller and buyer (Charles, 2006). The communication style based on two importance dimensions of human behaviour are assertiveness and responsiveness.

There are some communication styles:

Expressive style: it combines high responsiveness and high assertiveness. The expressive person create a social relationship quickly, fast paced and feels more comfortable in an informal atmosphere. To identify expressive person by nonverbal and verbal like appear active, they are extraverts that take the social initiative. In the first meeting they initiate handshake as well as maintain the conversation openness and directly.

Salesperson need to take time to talk, be enthusiastic and build relationship with the buyer if they are in expressive style. Maintain good eye contact, good listening and asking about their opinion and idea.

Driver style: combines between high assertiveness and low responsiveness. Some verbal and nonverbal clues that we can observe in this style are appear to be busy as they don’t want to waste time and get in the right point, they more talking to listening, displays a serious attitude, impatient an like to maintain the control.

The key is keep the relationship as a business-like. Salesperson goals are efficient, time disciplined and organised to provide appreciate the facts and benefits of the product.

Analytical style: combination of low responsiveness and low assertiveness. Analytical person tends to cautions and reserved so they are difficult to know. They control their emotional expression and less likely express warmth openly, they are not express measured opinions and examine all the facts before making decision.

In this style, salesperson need to well prepared and asking the direct and specific questions, present the proposal in a slow and deliberate way and provide the documentation. Don’t be hurry in close sale and make any pressure on analytical person to make decisions.

Amiable style: combined low assertiveness and high responsiveness. These people in this style is easy to display their feeling and listen to others and make decision longer with thoughtful and deliberate manner.

Salesperson need to spend more time with person in amiable style to build the social relationship with them. Listening carefully to their opinions and patience is also important.

Trust-based sales communication: A collaborative and two-way communication allows buyers and sellers to develop better understanding of the situations and work together to resolve customers need.

Effective communication requires a two way flow of information. The buyer must understand the message information to make the decision. Two way communication help salesperson can send message, present the benefits of the products and answer the questions also they can see the buyer reactions or moods change when interact with them verbally or nonverbally in the presentation. As a successful salesperson the business communications skills will need to cover many facets: talking, reading, listening, writing. As developing communication style by identify the skills and become more adapt at style flexing, salesperson able to manage the relationship process with customers. With these skill, salesperson can handle in more difficult situations, sell more to established customers and work in the pressure. Most important customers view can see you as a good seller with great understanding and can meet their needs.

Question 3: Active listening (SIER)

Listening is a vital communication skill that allows salespeople to adapt different situations. Active listening is the cognitive process of actively sensing, interpreting, evaluating and responding (SIER) to the verbal and nonverbal message. The salesperson must learn to listen as it is a key to sales success (Charles, 2006). To listen effectively, salespeople need to practices active listening skill everyday by actively thinking what customers want and talk about and show the interest what customers are talking then ask to collect more information. The SIER model describes active listening as 4 hierarchical steps:

Sensing: The first activity of active listening begins with hearing, sensing and receiving the verbal and nonverbal aspects of the messages sent. Concentration is needed during this period. Buyers should not be interrupted while they are talking so the messages can be sent with a full detail, that helps salespeople easier to recognise the needed of customers. Salespeople’s positive body language (smile, eye contact, facial expression,…) is also important that to help customers deliver the message.

Interpreting: after the message is received, salesperson must explain and correctly interpreted and put it in the meaningful context. Interpreting helps ensure that customer understand the message of the salesperson. Salesperson should link the experience, knowledge and attitudes of buyer verbal and nonverbal aspects of the message.

Evaluating: after the interpreting, active listening occurs. Evaluative listening requires more concentration and attention to customers to preparing the respond. The evaluative listening phenomenon is a result of the tremendous speed at which a human can listen and thin (Ref). The receiver needs to evaluate the messages based on the strength or weakness and shows the interest or not. The evaluating active listening involves both logical and emotional aspects.

Responding: effective active listening is both expectation and requirement. The requirement in two way communication is the receiver responds feedback to the sender. The feedback show how the message can understand and encourage further interaction between sender and receiver. It can be verbal and non-verbal. To know more about the need of customers and clarification the detail, salesperson should reflection customer’s message and ask pruning questions.

Some suggestions for active listening include repeat information, restating or rephrasing information, clarifying information, summarizing the conversation, tolerating silences and concentrating on the ideas being communicated (ref).

Example of active listening include nonverbal active listening nod, smile, eye contact and focus, patience and notice while talking to each other and verbal active listening are paraphrase, asking open-ended question make sure they specific answer the questions or use short verbal affirmations like “yeah” “I understand” “I agree” etc. to show the respect.

PART B: The Selling Process

Question 1: The objectives of strategic prospecting

The objective of strategic prospecting is identify, locating qualified and prioritize sales opportunities, which can represent potential customers and new opportunities or additional business from existing customers (Stephen & John 2011). That helps salespeople able to identify the best sales opportunities easily. Strategic prospecting have some standards to help salespeople separate potential prospects from people who buy less. Also salespeople must always seek to improve the process of finding potential customers

Question 2: Prospecting is an important activity for salespeople

Prospect is an important activity for salespeople because business constantly changing and prospecting plays a vital role in long term success. Prospecting is the life blood of sales because it identifies potential customers (Charles, 2006) It helps to increase revenue, market share, profits and protect against the impact of turnover customers for the business. Prospecting helps salespeople can find new customers to replace whose are lost over times for a variety reasons (economic, competition, satisfaction, etc.) as well as keep existing customers to grow the market of business.

Question 3: Four company sources can be used for prospecting

Many firms have resources that can help salespeople use for prospecting.

Satisfied customers: the most effective sources for leads is satisfied customers especially whose are truly loyalty and have a good relationship with the sellers. From that salespeople can ask the name or phone number of the leads. Salespeople can also gather leads at the event they organise for their loyalty customers. For example, Lawrence Peeters – Metro Realty Dunedin usually have cocktail bar in the cinema every year for his clients, the event is might free for clients who bring one or more prospects. Successful salespeople must keep prospects and referring customers stay satisfied and always make sure to keep in touch with their satisfied customers. 

Endless-chain method: salespeople can ask satisfied customers to provide the names of others they feel would be interested and have the need of the products. Satisfied customers who are have the trust with the products also the salesperson is willing to give the names of another prospects and maybe even introduce for the salesperson.

Networking: salespeople use personal relationship to developing social contacts through community, social clubs or using the centre of influence to developing contact in the market who can influence people to buy although they may not use the products. In selling networking simply means establishing connections to other people and then using those networks to generate leads, gather information, and generate sales and so on (Stephen & John 2011).

Social media: salespeople uses online social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn to prospect for new customers and keep connect with existing customers.

Question 4: Three basic criteria used to qualify leads as sales prospects

A true prospect must have financial resources, money or credit to pay and the authority to make buying decision (Gerald & Barry, 2001)

First the person must have the need for the product/service. Many companies try to identify a target market that includes potential customers according to basic needs by using many ways: phone, internet or mailing. Salespeople should not give the presentation until they recognise and classify that person as a prospect.

Second the prospect must have ability to purchase the products/services. An important platform of consulting sales is that prospects should not be convinced to buy products/services they cannot afford.

Third the prospect must have the authorised to buy the products/services. Finding the prospect whose can make the purchase is very difficult so doing the research to knowing who has authority will save time and effort of salespeople also can make the closed sale in higher percentage.

For example, the young couple want to buy a house in Dunedin and come to the real estate agent to ask about house available. The agent recognise their need and need to classify that couple is a prospect to give them the presentation. The real estate agent always check client’s financial status to know their price range wish of the house to show for them the best options. Also they need to know who is authority to make buying decision as maybe the buyer have someone else make decision and purchase the house.

Question 5: Two main approaches that can be used to prioritize sales prospects

Although the process is eligible to remove the least promising leads, the remaining prospect represent for different sales opportunity.

Salespeople have to make sure to spend more time on their best opportunities. One of two main approaches that can be used to prioritize sales prospects is create a customer profile with the company goals fit with the best customer characteristics. The second approach is to identify one or more criteria, assess sales prospects according to these criteria and rank all sales prospects based on this assessment or set sales prospects into categories A , B and C, with sales prospects A is the top prospects with bestselling opportunity, B is potential customers who might buy a small amount products/services and categories C is prospect may be do not have budget now and can call later. Salespeople need to spend more time with categories A and B every day to close the sales and revisit categories C to remain them about the product and you are around if they needed.

PART C: Personal and Territory Management Strategy


Question 1: Five sequential stages of self-leadership

Setting goals and objectives: Salespeople need to setting goals with SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) to clarify ideas, focus to the efforts, manage time and resources effectively and increase the chances of achieving the goal. There are 4 types of goals: personal goals, territory goals, account goals and sales call goals. For example salesperson have the goal that getting more information about the prospects so they need to set up the specific goals what type of information they need, how much information is enough and set up time to follow.

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Territory and account classification: The process of surveying an area to identify customers and potential customers to buy the most ( Stephen & John 2011). The source need to be used are business and trade directories, company websites and mailing list providers. Salesperson need to set prospects and existing customers into the categories for planning a call and time allocation purposes to make sure they achieve the sales goals effectively.

Development and implementation of strategies and plans: establish and implement selling tasks and sales planning (weekly plan, monthly plan or yearly plan…). The sales planning need to write down, keep follow and flexible with the plans. The sales plan includes territory route plan which is combining information developed during account analysis and account classification to helps reduce encroachment travel time is not effective

Tapping technology and automation: using computers and smartphones, emails, texting, social networking with internet or Wi-Fi. The smart sales force automation tools that analyse data on past customer behaviour, cross-selling opportunities, and demographics to identify areas of opportunity and high customer interest.

Assessment of performance and goal attainment: planning for periodic checkpoint to compare the performance of the projected and actual one and to evaluate the performance.

Salespeople focus on the mental strength and put their energy on sales to make sure provide valuable knowledge to customers and ensure using their tie efficiently.

Question 2:

a. Sales approaches

Product demonstration approach: this straightforward approach is getting the attentions of the product. We can use audio visual to demonstrating our product to the restaurant by pictures, video…

Referral approach: the referral approach is quite effective as a satisfied customers already used and know the benefit of the product so can introduced the name for us. The first sentence should be mention about the third party that is one of our loyalty customers. Example: “Hello Ms. A, my name is Hallie Duong and I am a national sales manager for the hospitality product. Mr. B- our loyalty customer and he suggested that I mention his name to you.”

Customer benefit approach: the effective way to gain the prospect’s attention is mention about the benefit if the restaurant purchasing the product. To achieving this approach, it need to prepare carefully and give the good deals for the restaurant benefit in the opening statement.

Consultative selling: it takes time to achieve this approach as we need to spend more time to build the relationship of trust with the restaurant. Moreover, using personality and experience to analysing the problems and offers the solutions. Using emotional connection, asking questions and reviewing the information before make any recommendations also explain the features and benefit to customers.

 b. Recommendation

Referral approach is the best valuable method if we already have customers and they are willing to introduce the company to the restaurant as the existing customers will recommend and tell about us to the restaurant. It will save times and we can gain the trust by giving a good attention and provide qualify products. This individual difference is provided by the referral and an easily recognizable name to potential customers paving the way for salespeople to meet potential customers, sell product benefits and develop long term relationships.

But in case we don’t have any referral, the consultative selling is also one of the method can be helpful. Before selling the product, we need to research to learn and understand customer’s needs. Asking the question when possible, listening, building the trust to customers and always honest about the products then more persuasively the value, and close more deals.



  • Stephen, C., John, Jr. (2011). Selling: Building partnerships (8th ed). China: Mc-Graw-Hill
  • Gerald, M., Barry, R. (2001). Selling today: building quality partnerships (8th ed). New Jersey: Prentice Hall
  • Charles, F. (2006). Fundamentals of selling: customers for life through service (9th ed). New York: Mc-Graw-Hill


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