What we learned from our bocaditos selling experience

At the end of the 4 days of making and selling bocaditos we took a few moments to reflect on the things we had gained and learned from that experience. And we thought we’d share them with you:).

  1.  When selling a product or service, give something for free first. People will be much more inclined to buy from you after that. This was one of the most surprising and important lesson we learned. The mamacha we had lunch from one of the days said she’ll buy one. She ate it while we were still eating our food, and as we were preparing to leave she said “Oh wait, I’ll pay you for the bocadito”. Without thinking we just said “It’s ok, it’s on us”. She then smiled, thanked us and said “Ok, I will buy two more then”. Another day we were entering a stadium and didn’t know we were meant to pay an entrance fee. When we told the lady that we just wanted to give one round to see if anyone wanted bocaditos, she let us go in for free. On the way out we went to offer her a bocadito as a sign of gratitude for her gesture. She was touched and on top of the bocadito we gave her she bought another one. And the examples could go on and on. Every such event would make us not only love these people more, but understand once more that it’s the giving first that makes the difference later.
  2. Provided you have good morals, you will NOT do well if you’re selling a product you don’t believe in or if you’re uncomfortable about anything related to that product/service (unless you’re very good at lying. But then again, does lying to make a living help you sleep well at night?). The first day, upon seeing how the kids reacted to the price we quoted, I started to feel very uncomfortable about selling the bocaditos for 1 Sol, as I felt they were too expensive for the place we were in. As a result, I didn’t sell as many as Boca and Katya did, who were ok with the price we set because they felt it was fair.
  3.  Some products sell themselves (e.g. bread). If yours is not one of them, know it’s then your attitude that sells. We were looking at the mamachas selling bread, or even food for lunch. They didn’t need to put any effort in selling because people needed to eat. But people didn’t necessarily need to have desserts, and even if they badly wanted it there were so many others to choose from. So we had to use our “charm” when selling, and we realised what worked best was being authentic, happy, smiley and genuinely interested in offering the people something that would make them feel good. We also noticed that the days we were happy and enthusiastic about selling were the ones when we sold the most.
  4. Don’t sell to white people things the white people can get back in their countries. We were told to go to Pisac for the Sunday market because there were going to be a lot of foreigners there and we’d surely sell the truffles in no time. Boy, were we in for a surprise! It very soon became clear our market was definitely not the foreigners, as the truffles were so common and just “the usual stuff’ for them, but instead it was the locals, as this was exotic and something they had not experienced before.
  5. Customize your products for your different target groups. We learned some things from our experience the first day, so when preparing to go to the school the next day we made the bocaditos smaller and colorful. Then, when we went to the market in Pisac we took it a step forward, and we had 3 sizes/types of truffles: for the adults with a sweet tooth, for the adults who just wanted to try, and for the children. Yup, it pretty much worked 🙂
  6. How much you sell one day depends on so many factors that you can’t beat yourself up for sales being lower one day than you had expected. What you can do is sit down and analyze at the end of the day, so you’ll know what to do next and what needs to be changed.
  7. If something doesn’t work, change it! Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Don’t be insane, change something! We only sold the truffles for 4 days but we changed things every day based on our observations the previous days.
  8. People will judge you, it’s up to you to understand it’s not about you but about them and not take it personally. It was so funny to observe how many foreigners were looking at us in shock, surprised that in a country like Peru, where they would expect the locals to sell any small things in the streets, they were seeing two Caucasians doing this instead. Besides that, most foreigners were used to buying sweets from proper stores, from behind a squeaky-clean glass and a germ free environment. Buying them in the middle of the street from a plate that had been taken around the market for a while was probably not their idea of “hygienic dessert”. So if we were to be intimidated by their looks we would have gone home crying after the first 5 minutes. Instead we once more embraced “As in Rome…’ and continued selling the bocaditos to the locals the way they had been doing for centuries.
  9. In an exchange, the human interaction is more exciting than the mere exchange of goods and money. If it doesn’t seem so it’s because it is done in a perfunctory manner and you as a seller are not even necessary. You might as well be replaced by a machine. We realised how true this was at the end of one day when we looked back and asked ourselves “what was your favorite moment of today?”. The answers were all to do with the people we had met while selling and the conversations we had had with them. We felt more excited about the interaction with 5 people than about the 100 bocaditos sold. Thinking about our experience as customers, we realised as well that the places we always loved going back to were those where we had developed a relationship with the people there.
  10.  You will go through moments of irritation and apathy, it’s normal, but just remember that how much you sell is directly proportional with your attitude. If you can’t change your state, close shop for an hour and light some incenses or whatever you do to relax and get back into a productive state. We realised that when we were not in a good mood we didn’t manage to sell much at all, so we were better off going home and returning the next day.
  11. When things don’t go as planned, come up with an alternative strategy fast. When we went to the school on the second day with the truffles prepared especially for the kids, we found it to be closed. We didn’t lose a second but immediately found out why, and when we were told it was due to the games in the stadium we headed to the new location asap.
  12. “The last 2 pieces, the best ones” really works. When people know this is their last chance they will be much more inclined to buy. We found it was many times easier to sell from an almost empty plate than from a full one.
  13.  If you get upset because someone didn’t buy from you, that attitude will affect your next customer. And he might not buy from you either. I remember the not so pleasant feeling I’d get every time I wanted to buy something, asked questions about the thing but in the end didn’t buy it, and then the seller got really upset about it. I’d move on and not be affected about it too much, but I’d always think about the next potential customer who’d be meeting with the bitter and unhappy face of the seller. The chances of this person sticking around and buying were much smaller (unless, as mentioned, we’re talking about a product which sells itself, in which case the attitude takes a secondary role). In any event, I found I could never get upset with the people who didn’t buy from me… it was weird almost, but I’d smile to them anyway and was just happy we had made contact. They were simply not interested, which is normal, and there would surely be other people out there who were bocaditos fans :).
  14. The intention. I recently came across this very interesting book called the Sacred Commerce, highly recommend it. One issue raised there was the intention behind doing that which brings you money, and the great difference between doing something just for the money, as opposed to doing it while being aware of the way it contributes to the customer’s life. Just a sales person, or someone who makes a difference? As with any other job, the way we see ourselves in that job creates our experience. It’s like the story of the 3 bricklayers working on building a monastery. When asked what they were doing, the first one said, “I am laying one brick over the other”. The second said: “I am constructing a building so I can feed my family”, and the third “I am helping build the mightiest cathedral ever seen”. I wonder how they each felt at the end of a day’s work, and which one was the happy one in life? It works the same for any job we have: are we just another employee, or do we make a difference to this world in any small way? It was the same for our bocadito selling experience: is our intention only to make the money, or is it also to offer the customer a delicious sweet that would make him/her feel good?
  15. Giving more than the customer expects makes you feel good, and that contributes to the great attitude that will bring you more sales. When people bought a few truffles we always gave them an extra one for free. That made them really happy and us even happier. Made us smile more and hence sell more.
  16. Recurring customers are the most efficient way to make sure you sell your stuff. You get them by the quality of the product, of course, but also by the quality of the service. And when you offer the extra bit they are not expecting, their loyalty will know no limits.

Try it and you’ll know it!:)

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