Lessons from the Apple Seller

Saturday morning, West End markets, a throng of people pour through the stalls. They’re there for no other reason except to experience the atmosphere and to spend money. One stall holder, at least, knows this.

“You’ve missed your calling” I overhear the customer at the counter say, “You should be a philosopher”.
“Ah well, maybe one day” he laughs “The apple-selling philosopher!”

As people come and go, I observe his business philosophy in action.

He stands behind the counter pleasantly greeting anyone who enters, tempted by the fruit samples out the front, or the neat quirkiness of his stall layout.

“How much for the broccolini?” She holds a bunch out to him.

“$3.50 a bunch, or 2 bunches for $5”

Odd that he should immediately offer a discount, without negotiation. The customer takes a second bunch from the basket.

His stock moves fast: “I’ll just take 2 trusses of tomatoes, thanks”
“That’s 5 dollars, but I can do 3 for 7 if you like”
“Oh, why not?”
Why not, indeed?

“Just these apples thank you” says the next customer.
“That’ll be $5.00 and grab a couple more on your way out.”

Aha! How else do you upsell apples? This stall holder was magic to watch. Not one customer left with just what they came for.

What was this guy doing right?

  • He knew the pace and personality of his customers. They didn’t have the time to compare price or quality of product with another stall. All they knew was this salesperson was pleasant, efficient, and was giving them a ‘deal’.
  • He knew the power of rapport. Almost every customer left his stall with a smile on their face, not thinking about the extra money they had ended up spending.
  • He didn’t let a chance pass. He gave every customer the opportunity to increase their order. And it worked, almost every time.
  • His weren’t the cheapest prices at the markets. This meant he had scope to negotiate.
  • He backed up his promises. “Those oranges are good! Have a taste!” (Of course they were)

Consequently his stall was busy; there was always a customer at the counter and many would return next week. What do you think? Maybe he didn’t miss his calling at all…

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