In his book, Marketing Management: Analysis, Planning and Control, Philip Kotler put forward that the nature of a product can be divided into three levels or layers:
- The core product: This focuses on the benefits the product brings to the customer. This is the solution the product offers. The core product is viewed as the most important feature in the levels or layers of a product. I call the core product ‘the product in the product.’ The core product is what the customer takes away from the product. It is the benefits derived in the product.
- The actual product: Actual or physical product is a tangible product we can see and touch. This focuses on quality and design of the product. It is the product the buyer sees.
- Augmented product: This consists of measures taken to help the consumer put the actual product to sustained use. They are: customer service support, warranty and any after sales service.
However, I want to add a product layer which is a vital one. Standing on my practical sales experience of over 20 years, I want to add here that in personal selling, the salesman is a product. In fact, the salesman is the first product! He is the starting point of the product. Every other layer of the product depends on the salesman’s success. Therefore I put forward the following as the ideal sequence for the layers of a product:
- The salesman
- The actual product
- The core product
- The augmented product
My reason is simple, if the buyer fails to buy the salesman in the first place, he won’t get to the level of buying the actual product, the core product or the augmented product. In personal selling, the salesman comes first before the product he is selling. I see the salesman as a major factor in these product levels. Every other level of the product depends on the success of the salesman. Once the salesman fails, other layers will likely fail. Similarly, once the salesman succeeds, his success will likely affect the other layers positively.
If the salesman sells himself properly to his prospect, the prospect will buy him and other layers of the product and vice versa.
See yourself as the best and take charge!
You are the best product in the world! You are the main factor in the elements of sales. Nothing will happen in sales without you, the salesman. You are the man behind the success. Every other thing comes to shape when the salesman is doing the right thing.
But you cannot give what you don’t have. The salesman must be in control if he desires to achieve result. He must conquer himself and his environment if he wants to succeed.
You have to believe in yourself and in your product if you want to succeed in your selling. You must buy the product first before selling it to the buyer. Acceptability of the product in your mind is a prerequisite for success in your selling. You cannot sell what you don’t love. People buy when they see the level of your belief in your product and in yourself.
Selling yourself first:
You sell yourself in many ways. The way you appear is imperative. The way you speak to the prospect or customer makes or breaks the process. The salesman’s poise, style and, of course, knowledge of his products and services go a long way to sell the salesman to the prospect.
You should look saleable before approaching the buyer. When you look good enough to be trusted, you create the environment for the buyer to listen to you. You are a complete product and the first one the prospect buys – because you are the first one he sees.
Buyers buy from the best:
Buyers buy from the best salesmen. They buy from salesmen who are believable. You cannot be credible if you have not expressed credibility. You have to find a way to express why the buyer should believe what you are saying about your product.
This does not just happen; it takes a process. You have to take your time to build friendship and trust to attain this level of selling. What you say or do as a salesman matters a lot. You must be conscious of the fact that you are called to get things done and this you must do professionally. You must be a positive minded person. This is how to be credible. This is how to sell yourself to the buyer.