I find it easy to talk to anyone, but this skill did not come naturally to me. Years of watching my father, a natural salesman, use his charisma and charm to negotiate and sell a chocolate popsicle to a woman in white gloves taught me how to pay attention to details so I would know exactly what to say. Starting conversations with random strangers, especially when you have the objective to sell something to them, is intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.
- Start with the basics – “Hi! How are you today?” You really can’t go wrong with a classic greeting asking someone about his/her day. It’s generic enough that even the shiest person has had plenty of practice using this statement.
- Come up with a wacky statement related to your table. I love the silly statements I use because how the person responds indicates to me if that person is likely to be my customer. The reason this works for my brand, though, is because I have branded my company around whimsy and playfulness. I sell soap and candles and usually say: “Come on down and take a sniff!,” “Free sniffs!,” “The candles are $20, but the sniffs are free!”
- Offer a genuine compliment. As a person approaches your table, take note of him/her and offer a compliment about some aspect that you find sincerely appealing. For example, “I absolutely love your purse!” If you can make it work to your products, even better: “You clearly have excellent taste in jewelry.”
- Ask about their personal style related to your table. This approach works best if the person has already come near your table. Depending on what you sell, ask the person about his/her taste. I will usually say: “What are some of your favorite scents?” If they know, great, I start directing them to products that work. If they are unsure, I help: “Do you prefer bakery, flowers, or clean?” Use your own product selections to ask them about their personal preferences.
- Thank them for coming out to the event. Appreciating someone’s efforts always goes a long way and lets this new customer know you take the time to be grateful. Once you thank them, you can draw them in for further conversation with small talk by asking about the parking situation, traffic, the weather, and then follow-up with who you are: “Thank you so much for coming today! Was it a long ride for you?” (Yes/No) “I’m so glad you took the time to get here; I’m Kristen, your neighborhood soap lady!”
In whatever approach you choose, remember that the customers who are shopping at vendor events are doing so because they’re looking for a personalized experience. Offer the warmth of your kindness and you can never go wrong.