Monday, February 4, 2008

Sales Secret from Mexico - Start the Conversation

Laying on the beach in sunny Puerto Vallarta for nearly 2 weeks, I was gently reminded of one of the simplest secrets to more sales. It boils down to getting a conversation started.

War stories have been told and many have experienced the vendors in Mexico whether on the beach or at the market. I had to listen to many a bragging story poolside about how one of our comrades negotiated a great deal. For those of us from America it can become sport for us.

As I had time to reflect, I realized these people make their living making it easy for you and me to take home mementos of our experience or local goods. There are so many of them. I wondered how they could compete. It made me curious.

They all use the same approach. Some with more finesse than others but their goal is simple; to engage you, the tourist, in conversation about their product.

With most of us sunbathing, book reading or napping, you might wonder how they could succeed without being a big nuisance. I have to admit, during the first few days, they were a little distracting but when you realize their culture and business model I found it is fairly easy to adapt.

Their techniques were varied. On the beach or by the pool they might whistle to get my attention. Others times they called gently, "hey lady!" and held up their wares. One guy came through our beach at the same time every day calling out in his ringing voice "Muffin man, muffin man! Line up 2 by 2 to get your fresh muffins!"

They were very gracious when my reply was, "no, gracias." However, if I did take an interest in their wares by taking a long look or asking a question, they were quick to start a conversation. Describing their product and asking me a question in return.

In contrast when we were in the market downtown, we were regularly invited into the shops to take a look around. "Looking is free" they would comment. Or my favorite, "You like this? Today for you, senora, is almost free."

While I giggled from time to time as I observed and participated in the sales process it drove home the point. The sale starts with a conversation. Do all sales conversations end successfully? No! But I was reminded, the more conversations you have, the more sales you will get. I know that sounds obvious but it made me ask myself the following question, which I will in turn ask you.
  • How many techniques do you employ to start a conversation with your prospects, customers, and partners?
  • Are you comfortable with the conversation starters you are using today? If not, what else might you do? Get creative.
The more conversations you have, the more your sales will grow!

Another AHA from the beach: Why some of the vendors do better than others. They remember their customers. We first visited PV last year. One of the vendors we purchased from remembered us. Amazing! Out of all the people strewn out along Banderas Bay. His friendly greeting and inquiry about the earrings I bought last year was just another confirmation that the business basics are the same everywhere.

Our new friend is Daniel. He works the beach every day during the tourist seasons. We learned a little about his family. Now that we know him and he knows us, we wouldn't dream of buying jewelry from anyone else.

Sounds familiar doesn't it. Start the conversation. Build rapport. It is about the relationship!

Happy Selling!

No comments: