Selling: how Nairobi’s street sellers embody great selling skills

Sellers trying to get the attention of a motorist. Photo credit: Google search

So last week we started off this series on selling — Why selling is the most important skill for an entrepreneur and yes we had quite an interesting discussion around the topic of selling.

Today i want to push it even further and simply look beyond the concept of why selling is important. Last saturday, i decided to study what makes consumers purchase or simply put: what makes you chose item A from B. Well, it's quite a complex thought process i discovered.

Consumers are complex. They can be impressed by just nitty gritties. By just simple details or just how we engage with them. I realized that some of the most crafty sales strategies don’t require anyone to go to school so as to get it right. There are people who have mastered this art quite successfully. At the top of that list is people who sell merchandise in the Streets of Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya.

The following are some of the tactics they use to pin down customers.

  1. “Hii unless tukosanie bei…” (This is a perfect one but the only problem is that we might conflict on price)— This is a master tact that puts the consumer’s mind on the defence. Attempting to prove a point that yes they have the purchasing power. Usually used when trying to sell a unique item. Works like a charm especially when trying to sell a product that seems to be for a set “class” of people.
  2. “Hio bei ata mimi sijanunua nayo..” (I haven’t even bought the item at that price” — Usually thrown in when a buyer tries to negotiate for a lower price. Nearly all sellers in the city use this line. Makes you feel the need to offer a higher bargain.
  3. Pampering the buyer — Ever visited a store(especially a place you are a return customer)to buy something and the seller starts by asking how work has been, how well you are fairing etc and gives you a lot of assurance that things will get better. You my friend are being turned into a loyal consumer. The pampered buyer who will never shop elsewhere to avoid feeling “guilty”.

The list is inexhaustible, but i’m sure you catch my drift and of course, you can comment with more examples at the bottom.

Today’s new term/tact:

Upselling is a sales technique whereby a seller induces the customer to purchase more expensive items, upgrades or other add-ons in an attempt to make a more profitable sale.

For instance if someone comes to your store and buys shoes — convince them to get some socks as well. You can make it sound this way: “We do sell socks as well at 300ksh but because you have bought shoes we will sell the socks to you at half the price: 150ksh”

Side note: the actual price of the socks was 150ksh but the 300ksh was just a selling gimmick. So if you are adding the socks profit on every single pair of shoe you are selling — i know you will smile.

That’s it for today! Let’s catch up next sunday. Happy selling. Happy buying. Happy people.


Entrepreneur. I sell policies, ideas, political ideologies and businesses. Talk to me on Twitter: African IdeaPreneur™ , Facebook:

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