It happens everywhere…
As you would expect, I was accosted by a number of street merchants on the streets of Cairo attempting to sell me their wares. It dawned on me that there must be a sales or marketing gene floating around certain persons regardless of education, access to technology or ability to fluently speak the language of whom you are trying to sell to.
Those selling pyramid candles, dancing and singing camels, or frighteningly realistic monkey statues had polarised ‘advertising’ and sales techniques almost identical to what we all experience here in the Western world. Many of them were awful, really in your face literally forcing their product into your hands, and as much as I like backscratchers with scarab beetles as handles, they are not exactly at the top of my ‘must-have’ list. I likened this approach to the multitude of spam emails we all get (many from big brands may I add) and despite saying “no” they just keep coming back again and again.
The way in which we sell products and services has changed dramatically over the years and finding out what the interests and needs of your customers are and tailoring your approach is essential. Although I had no interest in buying anything on my trip, I encountered a couple of superb ‘salesman’ on the sandy dunes in Giza who could probably teach a few people over here a few things about communication and sales approaches! They of course asked about where you were from, if you were married and which football team you supported which is a pre-rehearsed script. I was however interested in finding out more about the recent revolution, and Egypt post-Mubarak, and a number of Egyptians, rather than dodging the conversation, embraced the interaction (and forgot about selling for five minutes!) and it was a welcome change. If only all companies and salespeople were like this eh?
Regardless of whether you are a multinational company with £500m turnover, a recruitment consultant trying to hit your targets, or a street merchant trying to scrap together a couple of Egyptian pounds to feed your family, the ‘rules’ of selling and marketing your product, service or personal brand remain the same. Listen to your audience, engage with your audience, know your audience.
My Holiday Reading List (all highly recommended):
What the Dog Saw (and other adventures) | Malcolm Gladwell
Foul! | Andrew Jennings (beware of impending disillusionment for all you football fans)