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My friend Carrie Greene, founder of Carrie Thru, wrote this great article that she said I could share with you.

Carrie helps entrepreneurs create the systems and structures you need to help you stop spinning, get focused, make decisions, set your priorities and most importantly carry through so that you can get your message to the world and have a successful and profitable business.

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Learning about sales at the farmers’ market

Here in NJ mid-August is prime time for farmers’ market.  Everything is at its peak.  We have a weekly farmers’ market in my town, but it’s pretty small.  My husband and I decided to try a new one that was bigger and nicer, even though it was considerably further away.

I had a strategy in mind…take a quick look at all the stalls to check out what was available and then spread our purchases out when we went back to buy what we needed.

My intention was to get tomatoes, nectarines, melon, green beans, zucchini, summer squash and maybe one or two other things if they caught my eye.

After a quick run through we stopped at one stand and even though everything looked fabulous, decided to just get string beans and a melon.   We’d buy the rest elsewhere.

I went to pay and met Rich.  He was very friendly and casually  said, “Did you see the basil?  It’s absolutely perfect.”  I said, give me two bunches; I can always freeze the extra.

He started packing up our purchases and mentioned that the peaches were at their peak, so if I like peaches to be sure and get them this week or next.   I added peaches to our purchase.

Someone else asked him about tomatoes.  I added tomatoes to the order and watched as Rich personally selected the best ones for us.  He then said “As you get to know me you’ll see that I make sure you get the best of the season.  Wait until you see my apples in a few weeks.”

I realized that there was no need to spread our purchases out…Rich had us and we were happy to be had. I added zucchini and yellow squash, blueberries and fresh mozzarella and paid for everything.  As I was about to leave he said, “Don’t buy eggs at the supermarket this week.  Our eggs are right off the farm.  They have beautiful bright yellow yolks, are much better for you and taste better than what you buy.”  Next thing I knew I was picking them up.

We thanked him and left with overflowing bags.  We looked around at the other stalls, picked up one or two more things and left.

As we headed home my husband and I discussed how despite our strategy, we ended up doing all of our shopping with Rich and that we got a lot more than we expected to. We wanted everything and were confident that we’d use it, but it wasn’t our original plan.

So what happened? Considering that each stand had the goods we wanted; everything was beautifully presented and available for purchase, why did we do all of our shopping with Rich and why did we get more than we expected to?

It’s really simple.  Rich had the opportunity to interact with us and did.  Yes, some of it was luck, we happened to go there first, but when we went to other stands afterwards they never interacted with us other than saying “Anything else?” and telling us the cost.

Rich took the time to get to know us.  He introduced himself to us.  He never assumed that what I picked up was all that I wanted.  He spent time with us and didn’t just ring up our purchase.  He found out about our three teenagers who LOVE fruit.  He knows that they will eat a large watermelon in a day and that Eric alone will finish off a dozen eggs in less than a week.

He shared information about his other products.  Let me be really clear about this… there was never any pressure to buy.  In fact, what I perceived was his desire to share with me and add value to my day (and plate!).  I truly wanted everything we got and am confident that it will all be eaten and enjoyed.

We left Rich after happily paying him and were excited about what we had bought.

OK…so how can you apply this to your business?

1.     You have to help people buy from you. Displaying your goods and services is not enough.  Yes, it is important to have a place to show your products off, but a beautiful website and top rankings on Google will not bring you sales.

2.     Speak with your prospects.  Get to know them and let them get to know you.  Help them make their own decisions about whether or not the goods you have to offer are the goods they want to buy.  Spend time with them even if you have other things to do.

3.     Interact with your current customers. Just because someone decides to buy your product does not mean that this is all they want or need.  After you say “Thank You!” take the time to see what else your customer may need and how you might be able to help them.  One more thing here…make sure your clients know about what’s coming next so that they come back (I can’t wait for the apples).

4.     Don’t keep your products or services a secret. Even though everything was displayed, Rich did not assume that I looked at all of it.  I never would have bought as much from Rich if he hadn’t specifically mentioned them to me.

5.     Remember…Buying can be a pleasure for your client. I don’t regret a single purchase, if anything I wish I had gotten more.  I was not bullied into buying anything.  Rich just shared what he had with me.  I can’t wait to see Rich next weekend so that he can share more of his bounty with me and I will happily pay him for it.

One of my mentors says, “Sales isn’t something you do to someone, it’s something you do for someone.” Thank you, Rich, for helping me internalize this message.  Yes, Rich sold me products.  He offered them to me, charged me for them and I paid him.  He closed a sale and even up-sold me but did it for me — not to me — and we both left the exchange smiling.

Here’s what you can expect from me … more opportunities to speak with me so that I can get to know you better.  I promise you two things: 1) I will never strong arm you into buying anything you don’t want AND 2) If I have goods or services that will help you I will tell you about them and if they are right for you, I will help you buy them.

What steps can you take so you can be more like Rich?

Feel free to comment on Carrie’s blog here.


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