Two days ago The Missus and I returned from a vacation to Chile. We stayed in a beautiful hotel in the Bella Vista district in Santiago. Like most bohemian boroughs Bella Vista is chocked full of one-of-a-kind folks: artists, street vendors, ‘take a picture with a Llama’ guys, and food carts. One gentleman in particular sold bubble guns on a street corner. A bubble gun looks like a water pistol but shoots bubbles. It also makes a whirring noise while bubbles fly out of the barrel. Pretty cool toy. The bubble gun guy hawked his wares every day we were there and I imagine is hawking them today. His competition included a guy selling yellow fuzzy snake marionettes, a lady selling hand-brainded bracelets, and a huge array of booths selling sun hats and umbrellas. Tough market. Yet in the midst of the frenzy the bubble gun hawker always had an audience and always seemed to be captivating a new passerby. Clearly the bubble gun hawker understood a few sales fundamentals:
- Location location location! The bubble gun hawker wasn’t selling in the financial district. Nor was he selling near the university. He was selling his product smack dab in the middle of tourist-central. Families on vacation, near a hotel, with discretionary money to spend…that is where he sells. Invariably many sales professionals find themselves selling in the same or nearly-the-same locations throughout the year. Lead source, office location, service contracts all have a way of creating intrinsic geo-targets. Most salespeople neglect to return to micro-markets in which their name or company brand is somewhat established.
- Make it fun and make it engaging. Selling a bubble gun is fun because the product is fun. It’s cool to see bubbles blast out of a barrel. It’s fun to watch the salesman make a smiley face in the air with bubbles. Plus the gun looks pretty sweet. It is a salesperson’s responsibility (and craft) to bring a product to life and to make it sing. Salespeople can transform the relationship between a customer and a product by engaging on verbal, auditory, tactile, intellectual, fact-based, referral-based, application-based, solution-based, and design-based modalities. Make the product sing in order to make it desirable!
- Plant seeds. We didn’t buy a bubble gun (I’m a Nerf man). My daughter is 10 months old. Had I purchased a bubble gun she would have tried to eat it. That’s her thing right now. Nonetheless, the bubble gun hawker let us know each and every time we walked past that she’d love to have one someday. Maybe not now, but in the future. Too many salespeople don’t plant seeds for their next lead. They dismiss the basics: “Nobody reads a door hanger” or “I don’t have time to send my “Thank You” cards. These small seeds may not yield immediate results–they may not satisfy a salesperson’s need for immediate gratification–but they will if done consistently and systematically.
- No leads to Yes. We stayed in Bella Vista for nearly one week. The bubble gun hawker pitched us every time we walked by. He pitched everyone who walked by. He didn’t quit. Sales is job filled with adversity. The best salespeople have the ability to hear “No” and not be dissuaded. They also have the endurance to work through “No” in order to reach “Yes.” That’s intelligent tenacity. Simply because a customer says “No” does not mean they’re rejecting a proposal or an idea. It means they haven’t yet reconciled the loss aversion equation.
- Deliver a consistent presentation. Every person that the bubble gun hawker pitched heard essentially the same sales message. It was consistent and it was creative. After thousands of pitches the hawker had his game down. It was seamless. It was also egalitarian. I’ve heard salespeople say “I can read clients” or “I can tell right away if they’re buyers.” Truth is they can’t. Every customer should be treated as a legitimate buyer. Every presentation should have a similar blueprint. With practice comes mastery. Only then can a salesperson color outside the lines.
It’s easy to look at a guy selling plastic bubble guns dismissively. If you’re in sales, however, there’s a lot you can learn from someone like that. As many people say, “sales is sales.” In this case I couldn’t agree more.