Sales Techniques that Sell in Any Language

Originally published on January 16, 2019 by the Montrose Daily Press.

About a month ago, my husband, Phil, and I were pushing our son in his stroller in the beach town of Kata, Thailand. Seemingly out of nowhere, little 10 month old Daxen said, “Taxi.” “Did he just say ‘taxi’?” I asked Phil, unbelieving. Before Phil could answer, Daxen said it again.

Since we’ve been home, we’ve had fun sharing this and other such tales of our trip to Thailand. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about business practices we observed and comparing/contrasting them to business practices in the states. There are far more similarities than differences. Even so, something about Thailand felt different; friendlier perhaps, more easy going.

Whether you’re in Thailand, Iceland or Olathe, here are five sales techniques that translate in any language:

1. Make sure the customer knows you are there. Daxen didn’t learn how to say “taxi” because all the taxis were corralled in some area on the edge of town waiting for us to come to them. Daxen learned how to say “taxi” because taxi drivers and tuk-tuks lined the streets in Kata. Drivers smiled and asked, “Taxi?” as we walked by. When thinking about how you sell your product or service, are you where your customers are? Are you telling them and selling them whenever possible (and with a smile)?

2. Solve the problem for your customer. Phil and I were a mid-30s tourist couple taking a baby to the beach. We were excited to share it with him, but we weren’t sure how we would make the beach fun for a baby. As “luck” would have it, a very friendly man sold us an adorable bug floatie and beach toys. Dax had a great time. That beach vendor had our “number” and probably saw us coming from a mile away; yet in the end we were happy and he was happy. Do you anticipate your customers’ needs? Can you sense when and how they may need your product or service?

3. Give the authentic experience. We did not go to Thailand to have an American experience. We explored every opportunity to eat where locals eat, shop where they shop and ask as many questions as we could about the culture. The simple message here is, “you do you.” Whatever it is that makes you different or authentic to Western Colorado or your industry, ride that horse all the way into the sunset.

4. Meet your customer where they are. Our large “American” three-wheeled stroller stuck out like a sore thumb in Asia. The sidewalks were too narrow, it didn’t fit inside shops or restaurants and there were lots of stairs. We struggled with it quite a bit. The people who got our business were the ones who acted like our kid and giant stroller were the best thing that ever happened to them. They welcomed us in, and made space for us. A customer should never be an inconvenience to a business, regardless of how far above and beyond the business may need to go in accommodating that customer.

5. Be nice. For real. When someone comes home from a place tells their friends about it, the best compliment is, “The people are so nice there!” In Thailand, they are. Manners are a big deal and the Thai people are incredibly kind, welcoming and they smile all the time. Much like point No. 4, when you go out of your way to ensure someone is taken care of, smiling and having a good time, the power of word-of-mouth beats the heck out of any advertising you could possibly do. Thailand has this down.

I recently had the pleasure of talking to Cottonwood third graders about business and entrepreneurship. When I asked them what makes businesses successful, an eager young lady raised her hand high with enthusiasm. “What do you think?” I asked her. “Well,” she said, “They just have to be nice to people.” Amen, girlfriend.

If we look at this list and reverse engineer the outcome, it might look something like this: Johnny Customer did not make a purchase in our store. When asked about it, Johnny should never say he did not buy from us because he could not find it the store, because our product didn’t satisfy his need, because the experience felt inauthentic, because he didn’t feel welcome, or because staff was rude to him. Johnny’s decision should have nothing to do with his experience with us. And if that is the case, then even a non-customer like Johnny will likely recommend us to someone else.

This isn’t rocket science, but it does take some finesse and intention. My family left Thailand feeling better for the experience. We should all make that the goal for our customers.

Chelsea Rosty is the director of business innovation for The City of Montrose. She can be reached at crosty@ci.montrose.co.us.