How do you sell something?
Is it about what you sell or more about how you sell it? Or is it a measurable balance of both? Can you separate the impact of each on the outcome objectively in every case? Do you need to have a degree in management to be able to sell something by communication? Is selling more skewed towards art than science?
A flurry of questions bombard my half-awake mind as I watch hawkers desperately trying to sell daily necessities, stationery, eatables, clothes etc. to a bunch of indifferent passengers lost in their own garrulous exploits on a bright sunny Monday morning on board the Diamond harbour local train.
As I am about to get sucked into my vortex of thoughts and daydreams, an earnest baritone voice stops my escapade dead in its tracks as the train gallops ahead. Being a regular now in this local train, I notice this man pitching for inexpensive metal chains as ornaments every day. His offer is an unbeatable 3 pieces for 10 bucks. But the catch lies elsewhere. It’s how he makes you realise the value of those 3 chains are way beyond its price. Having noticed him umpteen number of times by now, he never ceases to amaze me. His sales pitch lasts for about a minute most of the times but it hardly showcases price as its USP. Every day he tweaks his content smartly, sometimes chipping in bytes of current affairs to grab attention, phrasing his lines in the rhyming rhythm of poetry, but succinctly adhering to his emotionally compelling logic of meeting the need to look beautiful and feeling happy about yourself, even if you can’t afford to. His eyes exude an unshakeable confidence, his entire act a reinforcement of his convictions. But to me, the hook is where he is being brutally honest by saying that its fake, lacks lustre and authenticity, but clinches it back by adding ‘’something is better than nothing right?” That is where it hits me. Honesty. Humour. Heart. That’s what you need to reach out to any potential buyer even if your product fails to cater to unmet needs! So much for jargon!
In all these days, I have never seen a single passenger getting cajoled into buying the chains in spite of the man’s captivating attempts. Yet, he resurrects the failed salesman in himself every single day, pulling out something new from his hat, living his one minute of fame with king like zeal and passion, with a sense of belonging as deep as that of a parent to his baby chains, only hoping to part with them as fast as the train permits him to. Attached to detach!
In his struggle for survival and sustenance, he is left with no choice .His spirit never breaks. A man battling poverty and trading blood and sweat for a square meal, has only two pockets full of hope to spare. Sometimes that is all we need!
I really don’t know whether what I am going to say will conform to any of Kotler’s frameworks or any theory of marketing and sales.
I am going to buy those chains one of these days as a token of my appreciation for teaching me an invaluable life lesson that each day is new, in spite of our ordeals remaining the same, our destiny in the palm of our hands and the realm of possibilities determined by the choices we make.
This transaction is called buying inspiration.