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Be a Sales Chameleon
In the past two issues of Growing Possibilities I have discussed different topics regarding my recent trip to Africa. However, there was one part of my trip that was frustrating and worth mentioning. It was the experience I had shopping in tourist-centered open marketplaces. Competing vendors sold similar handmade wares.
When I browsed through their items, I was repeatedly overpowered by their aggressive sales style. The proprietor of a stall would select an item and rave about its quality while following me around and trying to lure me into his store. “Come and see what else I have,” he would say. Following me around while continually talking at me, he would not take no for an answer. Then, like clockwork, he would ask where I was from. When he learned I was from America, I knew the unspoken thoughts were, “I have a rich person in front of me.” I wish it were so.
The negotiation games followed. I would be asked how much I would pay for an item, then, no matter what I said, the vendor would try to haggle over the price. The truth is, I don’t mind a little bickering back and forth but I didn’t like this aggressive game. I walked away because I found it so annoying and overwhelming.
Then I met Ernie at a busy outdoor market in Livingstone, Zambia, outside of Victoria Falls. He started out like the rest of the vendors but changed his approach when he found out I was American. He said, “Why don’t you look around. American’s like to shop on their own. If you need any help, I’ll be right over here.”
Ernie and I had a great conversation and of course I ended up buying the most from his shop. We did some negotiating but he responded to my bottom line. It turns out Ernie had attended business school and understood the process of selling.
I talked to other vendors and suggested they change their tactics to suit the shoppers, they would make more sales. I advised them to be like a chameleon and change according to where the tourists were from.
My advice is applicable to all people involved in sales. Know your market segments and accommodate to their shopping style. Here are some examples of how it works:
Success in selling requires you to be more responsive to the individual buyer. You don’t need to change who you are but you do need to alter your approach. Become more in tuned with your potential customer. The chameleon adjusts its colors to that of its environment to blend in and for safety. If you adjust to your approach to your prospects, you will gain more sales.
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