It’s easy, really. You just talk to people.
I know, I know. That doesn’t make for a great, informative post. Also, I realize that this comes easily for me. Well, relatively easily. I’m a teacher, you see, and I talk to people all day. All day.
So it’s not difficult when I’m vending, and talking to other people (NOT SCHOOL PEOPLE). However, I have had to figure out some things that help my vending time move smoothly, and also some psychological tricks that help folks to make the decision to buy (or not, if I’d rather they move along). If you are worried that you won’t know what to say, that you’ll be awkward, that you’ll say the wrong thing, then this post is for you. I’m here for you. You’ve got this.
You can do this! Let’s begin with some basics.
Starting off, please note that I break rules. To break a rule, you must know the rule first, and one steadfast rule of in-person vending is: Never Ask a Yes-No Question of a Potential Customer. The idea is to ask open-ended questions, to get them talking and therefore giving you more opportunities to sell to them.
I have figured out how to ask a yes-no question and turn it into a selling opportunity. My standard question of potential customers is:
Have you visited our soaps before?
If they answer Yes, then I say:
Oh, good, which one is your favorite?
We then begin to converse.
If they answer No, then I give them my Elevator Speech:
Okay, all of our products are all-natural, with no artificial fragrance or color; we only use essential oils for scent. And everything is handmade, from scratch, in my home in Denver.
Usually they reply something along the lines of, “Wow!” or “That’s fantastic!” or “Thank you.” I reply in kind, and then continue the conversation by asking:
What kind of scents do you like?
Aaaand the conversation is started. There’s your open-ended question. They start talking, and I start picking up soaps and shoving them under their noses. (Not really. Okay, maybe sometimes.)
The reason I ask a yes-no question to start is because I think that kind of question is easier for a customer to answer. It’s more shallow, and small-talk-y, which means they are more apt to begin the conversation by responding, even if reluctant. Also, their answer more often than not gives me the opportunity to say my Elevator Speech. If it’s a busy day, and there are a few new customers there, they all perk up and listen to my speech, and I can talk to all of them at once. The higher engagement starts at the end of that pitch; the ones who wouldn’t buy anything anyway just fade away, and the ones who are really interested stick around and keep talking.
There are also a few psychological tricks I use to keep people around and also to increase sales. It helps to have some sort of bulk-purchase deal to discuss when they are deciding on a purchase, but if you don’t have one, that’s okay. My favorite psychological trick starts when a customer picks up a soap and carries it along the table. This person is making a decision. The question I ask is:
May I start a bag for you?
Seems simple, right? She hands it over, and I put it in a bag. However, it is also an opportunity to go for the bulk purchase. If you don't have one, the trick is still there. The psychology of the word, “start,” implies that we are not yet finished; we have to add more soaps/items to the bag. If she replies that she only wants that one soap, and reaches for her wallet, then I roll with that. If she mentions ANYTHING about not being able to choose, or deciding on another, then I mention our Buy 4, Get One Free deal and ask directly if that’s what she wants to do.
Guess which “item” I sell more of than anything else?
That’s right. 5 soaps.
Now, let’s talk about you, because that’s why you are here. What are you selling? Are you able to create a discount for multiple-item purchases? Even 2-for deals are a good idea. My lotions, sugar scrubs, and bath salts are all $12 each, or 2 for $20.
What about your Elevator Speech? It’s called this because it’s a speech you could say in the span of a short elevator ride, if you had to, that encapsulates the description and benefits of your items for sale. Let’s break mine down, so you can create yours.
“All of our products are all-natural…” This shows a benefit. People who buy handmade soap want things that are natural, organic, and not full of crap that sounds like “chemicals.”
“With no artificial fragrance or color. We only use essential oils for scent.” This shows the benefits and luxury of the soaps. People who know about essential oils know they are expensive. It also reiterates that we use botanicals, and not things that are “artificial.”
“...everything is handmade, from scratch, in my home in Denver.” This shows that I am the artisan, so they are buying directly from the person who made it, and from scratch to boot. It also tells my locale, so they can make a decision about buying from a local artisan, rather than someone from farther away. I use this to my advantage at any show in the Denver area.
So, now it’s your turn. Let’s start with your elevator speech. Ask yourself:
Hey, I don’t care if you copy my speech and insert your information in there. Go for it. I’m here to help.
We can talk more in detail about customer interactions in the comments. Have you had a doozy of a customer interaction? Did you freeze up? Were they asking weird things? (More than you think…) Leave a comment and let’s have a conversation about What to Say When, so everybody can learn from more specific situations.
Have you downloaded my Ultimate Outdoor Vending Checklist yet? If not, CLICK HERE to get it!
to sign up for my newsletter!
Who writes this?
Hi, I'm Amy Kalinchuk. I am an author, publisher, crafter, entrepreneur, roller derby skater, wife, mom, and friend. I try to be organized and maintain an air of enviable breezy elegance. I do not always succeed. But crafting? I can do that. And small business. I can do that, too. So can you! No, seriously, you can do this! I'll show you.