On a trip to Peru a few years ago, I was amazed at the sales skills practiced by local street vendors and shopkeepers.
I’ve always maintained that “sales is sales” and the principles learned selling one product in one industry are totally interchangeable with other products and in other industry. This trip reinforced that belief along with the notion that these principles are universal within all countries and cultures. Let me give you a few examples of how these four highly effective sales principles were applied.
1. The first principle is building rapport. As I talk about this sales principle, keep in mind that in effective selling, salespeople sell themselves first. Also, people buy from people they believe, like and trust. I’m always a sucker for little children selling their wares. While walking in the main square of Cuzco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire, I was approached by a young girl, maybe seven years old. She asked me where I was from and then asked if I wanted to buy one of her crocheted finger puppets. She told me her mother had made them and that she had many different ones.
She followed me through the town square showing me her little finger puppets and each time she reached into her bag to show me a different animal finger puppet, she would ask me if I wanted to buy one from her. She walked with me for maybe ten minutes through the middle of the city and then down several side streets on my way to the hotel. I was becoming a little worried about her safety, but she continued to walk with me and talk with me and show me all the different finger puppet she had in her little bag. During that ten-minute time period, we bonded. There was no way for me to escape purchasing from her. I wanted to buy because I liked her and had become somewhat attached to her. I didn’t really need any finger puppets, but I did think they might be a fun Christmas present for my grandson. She engaged me in conversation allowing me to gain trust in her. I purchased enough finger puppets to start a small zoo. Oh, by the way, price was never a factor in the buying decision; she had my trust.
2. The second principle is capturing your prospects attention. One of the days we spent in the Amazon rainforest we went piranha fishing. After a morning of catching piranha and catfish, we visited an area where large lily pads were growing in a pond adjacent to the might Amazon River where a Yagua Indian family was paid to keep the pond free of debris from the river. They knew that on a typical morning there would be a few small boats of tourists with their local guides coming to see the giant lily pads. They had a modest display of homemade crafts hung on posts along the pond in hopes of generating a few extra dollars. It would have been very easy to just pass by without paying much attention to their display, but I couldn’t look past their attention getter. They had two of them in hopes to capture my attention and entice me to purchase their wares. What captured my attention? - a boa constrictor and a baby sloth. I stopped to see the snake and the sloth and ended up buying several of their crafts. Attention getters really work. Our group stopped to visit a native Yagua Indian village, home to about thirty men, women and children. All the girls, both young and old, had their faces decorated in bright red markings from the red fruit of a tree growing in the rainforest. In anticipation of our arrival, they had put on their makeup. The makeup was quite an attention getter. As a group we purchased many of their handmade trinkets. There is nothing in sales quite so powerful as a demonstration.
3. The third principle is showing the prospect the value of your offering. While at the same Yagua Indian village, the chief and several of the other men demonstrated their skill with “blow pipes” using poison darts to kill their prey. We competed with them in a contest to see who had the greater skill. They won, but the act of demonstrating the use of the blowpipes was enough to entice several clients to purchase blowpipes and darts. Poison for the tips of the darts was not part of the transaction. We also had the opportunity to watch the members of the tribe perform several of their ceremonial dances. Again, watching them demonstrate their dances encouraged several members of our group to participate with the Yagua people in their festivities. Demonstrating the value of a product (showing the prospect “what’s in it for them”), is a classic sales principle.
4. Always ask for more is the fourth universal sales principle. One aspect of this principle is not being afraid to ask for a fair price. A little four-year old girl approached me in Cuzco, asking me to buy a finger puppet. Remember, I had already purchased a whole zoo full of finger puppets from another child. This little girl was just learning the trade, and even though she had the courage to ask me if I wanted to buy, she wasn’t sure what to charge me. I knew the “going” price was one Sol (Peruvian dollar). She turned to her mother and asked her what to charge me. The mother turned to her little daughter and said, “this is your sale, what do you think?” The girl hesitated, looked at me, then looked at her mother again, and after getting the “look” from her mother, turned to me and said, “two dollars”. She had the courage to ask for more and I was willing to pay it. After I purchased the finger puppet, she asked if I wanted to buy a little hand-made doll.
The effective and consistent application of these four universal sales principles will significantly increase your sales performance.