With understanding in hand and getting out of your own way, intimidation by such opulence is lessened.
“A pair of shoes for Kes. 280,000. That’s a bargain for Kenya’s billionaire club.” So screamed the Daily Nation story. The story went on to report, “…that an elite group of only 25,000 people worldwide wear made-to-measure Brioni suits; and for those in Nairobi a tailor can be especially flown from Italy to take measurements and again to deliver the finished piece which goes for Kes. 1.2 million.” One suit.
How do you sell to someone whose budget at his local pub is the half a million shillings you have been struggling for close to five years to save, or you can only think of as a loan? First, get out of your way. Get rid of the smugness of self-righteousness. The biggest predicament to selling such luxury items is the salesperson’s unfounded certainty that she is morally superior. This manifests itself with thoughts or sentiments like, “What a waste of money? They should use that money to feed the poor; even if I had that money I wouldn’t stay at the Kes. 125,490 per person per night Sir Richard Branson’s Kenyan Safari Camp at the Mara.” While the saleslady has these thoughts crossing her self-righteous mind, her house help shares with her peers, “Imagine, mama alinunua nguo ya harusi elfu ishirini hivyo tu, pap! Mshahara yangu ya mwezi tatu! Na nilimuomba elfu mbili nilipe fees ya mtoto akakataa” (Imagine, madam impulsively spent Kes. 20,000 to have a dress made for a weeding she was attending. That’s my three months salary! And she declined my Kes. 2,000 loan request to pay for my son’s fees!). How different are your thoughts from hers? And who’s morally “right”and who’s “wrong”? Such thoughts limit you in selling. Classes in life have been and will always be. Get out of your way!
Having gotten out of you way, seek to understand. Why would one want to buy a 2-bedroomed apartment holiday home at the Coast in the first place, let alone spend Kes. 0.1 Billion on it? We can borrow from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs here, which speaks of one’s needs in life progressively moving from basic, safety, belonging, esteem and self-actualisation. It’s not enough to train to be a DJ or radio host when you are “self-actualising”. No. You buy a radio station and occasionally feature as DJ/radio host to satisfy that childhood craving. Because at home you have a hangar (not a garage) and an airstrip (not a drive way), your child can school hundreds of miles away from home (where you spend only two million shillings annually on his education), and where parents attending PTA meetings or visiting days in a chopper or a Cessna is standard procedure. What to do then as a salesperson? Enlarge your vision of what’s possible, expose yourself to understanding about the lifestyles of the wealthy (by reading Forbes for instance), and project your thoughts to this target market. It sounds all surreal yet salespeople who sell high-end European cars (or bank wealth mangers) do so every day-they sell a 16M shilling vehicle, and will probably drive home in a company loaned vehicle worth about Kes. 1 million.
With understanding in hand and getting out of your own way, intimidation by such opulence is lessened. And one easily say, “Here at the Caramel, a tot of Remy Martin Loius XIII brandy is only Kes. 41,000, Sir”, without a jaw-breaking stutter from one intimidated at the price of a mere tot, because it is more than what 94% of Kenyans earn as a monthly salary.
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