The Selling Concept

The selling concept, another common business orientation, holds that consumers and businesses, if left alone, will ordinarily not buy enough of the organization's products. The organization must, therefore, undertake an aggressive selling and promotion effort. This concept assumes that consumers must be coaxed into buying, so the company has a battery of selling and promotion tools to stimulate buying.

The selling concept is practiced most aggressively with unsought goods—goods that buyers normally do not think of buying, such as insurance and funeral plots. The selling concept is also practiced in the nonprofit area by fund-raisers, college admissions offices, and political parties.

Most firms practice the selling concept when they have overcapacity. Their aim is to sell what they make rather than make what the market wants. In modern industrial economies, productive capacity has been built up to a point where most markets are buyer markets (the buyers are dominant) and sellers have to scramble for customers. Prospects are bombarded with sales messages. As a result, the public often identifies marketing with hard selling and advertising. But marketing based on hard selling carries high risks. It assumes that customers who are coaxed into buying a product will like it;

and if they don't, that they won't bad-mouth it or complain to consumer organizations and will forget their disappointment and buy it again. These are indefensible assumptions. In fact, one study showed that dissatisfied customers may bad-mouth the product to 10 or more acquaintances; bad news travels fast, something marketers that use hard selling should bear in mind.17

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