Difference Between Personal Selling and Sales Promotion

Key Difference – Personal Selling vs Sales Promotion

Personal selling and sales promotion are components of integrated marketing communications. Both attempt to communicate a message created by an organisation towards the customer. The key difference between personal selling and sales promotion lies in the process adopted. Circumstances define the timeline of usage of these communication tools as both offers different advantages. On the pool of marketing mix, integrated marketing communication refers to promotion. Advertising, public relations, direct marketing, personal selling and sales promotion are the general promotional tools.

What is Personal Selling?                                                                  

Personal selling is a promotional method where seller uses his/her skills and expertise to build a mutual business relationship with potential buyers in which both parties gain value. For personal selling, the organisation uses individuals while, sharing of information with the buyer are usually face to face. The value gained can be in the form of monetary or non-monetary benefits. Monetary benefits are sales for the organisation and incentives for sales representatives while, for buyers, it is the benefit of purchase or knowledge as they are made aware of available products or services.

Personal selling is generally used for high valued products and products which demand personal convincing. Also, personal selling is used at times of new product launch. Examples of products for which personal selling is used are high valued machinery, cars, cosmetics and perfumes, and high-tech equipment. The benefits of personal selling are high customer attention, interactive discussions, customized messages, the ability for persuasion, potential to develop a relationship, and the ability to close sales. However, it has few disadvantages too. The disadvantages are labor intensity, high cost, and limitation of reach (less number of customers).

 Difference Between Personal Selling and Sales Promotion

What is Sales Promotion?

Sales promotion can be termed as a customer motivational tool where buyers are enticed to purchase a product or encouraged to try a new product. The objective of sales promotion is to increase sales in a quick span, increase usage or promote trials. Sales promotion is offered for a limited period of time and creates a sense of urgency with customers. Sales promotion can be further segmented as consumer sales promotion and trade sales promotion. Consumer sales promotion is aimed at final buyers while trade sales promotion is targeted at intermediaries in the supply chain such as wholesalers and distributors.

Personal Selling vs Sales Promotion - Key Difference

Example of Consumer Sales Promotion

Generally sales promotion provides an incentive for purchase. Examples of incentive for consumer sales promotion are discounts, free gifts, redeemable loyalty points, vouchers / coupons, free samples, and competition. Examples of incentive for trade sales promotion are trade allowance, training, store demonstration, and trade shows.

Personal Selling and Sales Promotion | Difference Between

Free Wine Tasting – Trade Sales Promotion

Through price discounts, the seller can attract new customers away from competitors which in turn make them regular customers. Further benefits of sales promotion are encouraging repeat purchases, disposal of stocks, improved inward cash, luring reluctant customers for trials and providing information.

What is the difference between Personal Selling and Sales Promotion?

An introduction to sales promotion and personal selling has been provided and now we will focus on the differences in between them.


Personal Selling: The key purpose of personal selling is to create awareness and build a long term relationship which will lead to closing the sale.

Sales Promotion: The key purpose of sales promotion is to increase the sales and dispose of stocks in a short span of time.

Personal Interaction

Personal Selling: Personal selling is performed by individuals and has a face to face interaction where customers are offered information on products, and mutual long-term relationships are built.

Sales Promotion: Sales promotion does not have any personal interaction and offers incentives to encourage purchase and to disseminate information.


Personal Selling: Personal selling is negotiation based, and incentive is an option. But, it’s not mandatory.

Sales Promotion: Sales promotion would definitely have an incentive element to entice customers to increase sales.

Nature of Product

Personal Selling: Personal selling will be used for products which may have the characteristics of high value, technically complex, or custom made. The product may have any one of the above characteristics or more.

Sales Promotion: Sales promotion will be used for products which usually have a low value, standardized or easy to understand usage.

Market Size

Personal Selling: Personal selling is used in markets with less potential customers or customers with high purchasing power.

Sales Promotion: Sales promotion is used in markets where a larger number of customers exists and the product is of low value comparatively.

Cost of Undertaking

Personal Selling: Personal selling is expensive as it needs employee training, dedicated workforce, repeated visits and transportation.

Sales Promotion: Sales promotion is less expensive to conduct compared to personal selling.

The above factors differentiate personal selling and sales promotion. Though both of them are part of a marketing communication the purpose they serve and the process adopted reflect the different dimension of each. But, both are effective tools for integrated marketing communications.


  1. Kotler, T and Keller K. (2012). Marketing Management. 14e Global ed., Pearson Education.
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1. "Chanel MYER Sydney City 2013" by Pear285 (talk) (Uploads) - Own work. [CC0] via Wikimedia Commons
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3. "Wine Tasting" by Emily Thorson from Philadelphia, PA, USA - Drinking free wine is so fun! Huzzah!. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons