Remember when you first saw it? The tuk tuk complete with an umbrella? Absolute genius I thought when I saw it. I haven’t ridden on it to confirm the service matches the look but I was already drawn to it. Among the myriad tuk-tuk’s, all giving a standard service, the owner has sold differently. And by doing so, he has made his sale that much easier. With the previously impossible heat that felt like the sun has come down a kilometre to the now sporadic showers, stepping on to a tuk-tuk with a shade is oh-so-welcome.  I couldn’t help thinking of how you, the progressive salesperson, can learn from this and distance yourself from the army of sales people (and products) lookalikes. All by being different in how you sell.

How can I be different in sales?

How can you be different in how you sell? For some salespeople their umbrella (difference) is their appearance. They are dressed to the nines complete with the latest electronic gizmos. Others are the MPESA agent who has earned the reputation of always having float and the newspaper vendor or matatu tout who doesn’t frown upon a 1,000sh note; if he doesn’t have the change he knows where to get it.

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Yet another is the informal vegetable seller at Soko Mjinga in KIjabe who, to overcome your objection, “Sina pesa” acknowledges your not having money and tells you, “Ukifika Nairobi nitumie.” And he proceeds to stuff your boot with the vegetables of your choice. And when you get to Nairobi you MPESA him the money. The sale is complete. All because he has learnt to study buyers and knows whom to extend credit to. That’s his umbrella.  Still, the umbrella could be the sales manager whom salespeople look up to because he holds their hand until they are not just walking but running; and is there to hold them thereafter when they stumble.

be different in how you sell

Why is differentiation in sales important?

But why bother to be different in how you sell? Because most products and services are similar and at par value this presents a challenge for the buyer; it makes it difficult to differentiate. And the problem with this is that he sees all sellers as the same. The most successful bank sales rep, sells products much similar, if not identical to, what the competition does; the shop in your estate with the highest footfall, probably sells the same household and personal care items the least successful one does; I have a customer service rep I will happily await to be free just to be served by; Google is used by over 80% of browsers globally yet all browsers surf the same Internet. I could go on and on with the different and unique types of selling techniques and strategies sellers use to stand out.

Generally, perhaps the only time one has a product that another doesn’t is the two week window before it is copied if not bettered. Umbrellas on tuk-tuks are now common place. But whereas products and services may be similar, I also know that salespeople are not. And therein lays the magic.

Why you hesitate to be different in how you sell

Being different from the multitude isn’t a complicated exercise. I mean, how complicated is placing an umbrella on the tuk-tuk? Or, the tout who genuinely compliments his lady passengers on their dressing to woo them to board? Or, getting out of your way so you can sell the luxury products you cannot afford by a mile? Though not complicated, being different from the army of sameness isn’t as common as one would imagine.

It takes courage to go against the tide and as I once read somewhere, and I have seen in my workshops, the opposite of courage isn’t cowardice-its conformity. And therein lies the challenge for the sales person-conformity; going about the job same as how everyone else does, without asking why, how or what. After all, ‘Questioning the status quo will mark’ me he thinks; I won’t belong. It’s much easier to have group think, to go with the flow. The problem of going with the flow is that even a dead fish does.

Dare to be different in how you sell

Being and selling different is the beginning of progress for the salesperson. It’s the zone in which the learning curve becomes a sharp angle not a long curve, or worse, straight line. The salesperson becomes a sponge for information. And why? Having put pressure on himself to be different, he cannot remain static; he must get better and better at his game. The traffic to his doorstep is already high-he cannot afford to let it go to waste. As it is, if they don’t buy you, they won’t do so your product.  It would be a wasted investment if, when I hop onto the shaded tuk-tuk, I find the rider speaking foul language or driving recklessly or doing anything that adversely diminishes the pedestal I have already placed him on.


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