Methods of Selling

In order to sell, a business needs to be able to interact with customers in a way that enables them to exchange their goods and services for payment. A business usually sells in three ways:


E-commerce, or electronic commerce, refers to the buying and selling of products and services using devices connected to an electronic network, such as the internet.

Three things are required for e-commerce to take place:

  • a seller who has products and services that are displayed electronically
  • a buyer who has the equipment required to view the seller’s products and services, and a means of paying for them
  • a network that enables information and payment to be exchanged by the buyer and seller
E-commerce network. Using a laptop and smartphone to order sports shoes online. The network of deliveries around the world.


Selling face-to-face involves sales staff meeting with prospective customers and allows good interaction to take place. Face-to-face selling can take two forms:

Selling business-to-business

When a business sells to other businesses it is referred to as selling business-to-business (b2b). The seller will often have a number of sales representatives whose job is to visit customers on a regular basis in order to build up a good working relationship. Any issues can be discussed, and the customer receives a personalised service. This is known as selling business-to-business.

Selling business-to-consumer

Businesses that sell goods and services to consumers will be selling business-to-consumer (b2c). This usually takes place in a retail shop, and does enable advice and assistance to be given to consumers, who can see the products they are interested in. However, running a shop can significantly add to the costs of a business.


Short for ‘telephone sales’, telesales involves selling over the telephone. Providing a telephone number that customers can call if they want to make a purchase can be an effective way of providing advice and human interaction, especially when selling services, eg insurance.

Some businesses will use telesales to phone potential customers in the hope of making a sale. This is known as ‘cold calling’, and is often seen as a nuisance and inconvenience by the potential customer, reducing the chances of making a sale.