Lessons from a Thai street vendor

I recently had the pleasure of traveling to Thailand for some business and vacation.   They call it the “land of a thousand smiles” and for good reason.  Thai children are taught to smile and be very well mannered.  Bangkok is a city of street vendors and I thought it might be useful to obseve their success in the context of good direct marketing.   Here is what I noticed….

  1. They always make eye contact, smile and greet you with sincerity.
  2. They invite you into their store or to look at their merchandise.
  3. They ask you where you are from….to know you better and tailor their offer/price and to keep you engaged and involved.
  4. They make every attempt to get to know you by observing who you are with, what clothes you are wearing, your language/accent…..even your sunburn!
  5. They watch your eyes, your responses and shopping movements to know just what to say, or present, next.
  6. They price based on everything they have learned from you up to the point when you ask “How much?”.   They charge what the market will bear.
  7. They quickly adjust and negotiate price based on your verbal and non-verbal language.  They make you work a little for the deal so you will feel you got a bargain and tell your friends.
  8. They service you….offering to unwrap, try on, measure, etc.
  9. They up-sell like crazy….”take three, good price”
  10. They cross-sell like crazy offering 3-4 complimentary items with each purchase.   They clearly know how to make the most out of every customer.
  11. They wrap and present your purchase like a gift and take your payment respectfully with honor.  It all makes you feel important.
  12. They use your testimonial/example.   As you walk away from their stand they tell the next shopper “He got good deal, he happy!”
  13. They say goodbye like you are their new best friend.  They put a card in your shopping bag with directions back to their stall.  They want you to come back and bring your friends!

Now, the average Thai street vendor is not a highly educated, worldly or experienced person but they have perfected their craft of direct selling and are proud of their skills and success.  Each sale brings them a sense of personal satisfaction and joy.  You can see it on their faces.

Can we say the same for our direct selling business?   Can we learn something from the Bangkok street vendor?   I think so.

Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at tjukes@b2bdmi.com or (954) 383-5221 (direct line).

Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services B2B catalog company clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at tjukes @ b2bdmi.com or (954) 383-5221

Comments or questions are welcome.

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