Increase your sales at zero cost by remaining open to the possibilities your product offers

There’s good reason why sellers must remain open to possibilities. Wearing blinders to only what you know lends itself to limiting the possibilities of a sale

It’s a humid 34 degrees in Malindi. I must obey my thirst. I ask this vendor to sell me pineapple slices. Although he doesn’t have a handcart with evidence of sliced pineapples, in my view, it’s not an unreasonable request. The pineapples are dangling all over his bicycle. I’m therefore taken aback when he tells me he doesn’t slice his up-he only sells them intact. Before I recover, his competitor dives into the gaping opportunity- “Njoo nikuuzie kaka” (Come over) he requests. “Nitakukatia nanasi nzima lakini; halafu utaongeza shilingi tano nikanunue paperbag hapa karibu dukani.”(I’ll slice up the entire pineapple and you’ll add five shillings for me to buy a paper bag to wrap it in); and he’s already peeling the juicy fruit even as he says this. And just like that a sale was lost-and won! What really still gets to me is that the one who lost the sale even had a knife with him. One wonders what it was for!

There’s good reason why sellers must remain open to possibilities. First, buyers are human beings and therefore dynamic. The recruitment policy could be clear that we don’t take on new recruits with their loans. That’s until we poach the saviour salesman from the competition who is saddled with a mortgage and the product (recruitment policy) is tweaked to accommodate him. Secondly, all the uses of a product may not be immediately evident. Look at Mpesa. The message initially, was Tuma na Mpesa; it has graduated to now include Lipa na Mpesa. And why not? When you make a payment, you are transferring (tuma) money from one point to another. A subtle difference with enormous possibility. Thirdly, the market itself is dynamic and hitherto non-targeted buyers may find your way to the fold. An example of this that I find most intriguing is Arimi’s (cow) milking jelly which women now swear to as the best (human) skin jelly developed. Forget that it even has a picture of a cow on it-it’s flying off the shelves and it’s not just farmers who are buying it. Likewise mosquito nets are known to be used for fishing and as a veil for the bride!

Wearing blinders as Mr. I don’t slice pineapples had, lends itself to limiting the possibilities of a sale. And so, when I walk into your electronics shop and request to make a three way payment for a tablet, you tell me that your policy (product) does not allow this; the next seller says, this is new but okay-the only thing we must agree on is that you will pick the item after full payment and, secondly, with the continual upgrades we cannot guarantee this model will still be available then, so you’ll take the upgrade or such other model as will be in tandem with the payment made by then. And a sale is made.

Of course such accommodation has limits. I did not expect the seller from Malindi to sell me half a pineapple-that would have been a different model of business for him altogether. He only sold whole pieces intact but slicing a whole one wasn’t too much of a stretch. Neither was asking me to add five shillings for the paper bag. Remain open to the possibilities of your product offering- it can dramatically improve your sales with almost nil increase in cost.

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