Beach Vendors – The Best Salepeople in the World?

I recently took a cruise to the Virgin Islands. We made stops at St. Thomas, St. John and St. Martin (or is it Maarten?).

Today’s story comes from the French half of the island of St. Martin (Orient Beach – the clothed side). This is supposed to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. However, it’s home to some of the best salespeople in the world.

Seriously, the beach vendors are some of the most skilled salespeople I’ve ever seen. They fall into a few categories – ware sellers, hair braiders and musicians. Here’s a quick roundup of what we can learn from them.

Begin with a compliment or suggestion.

I saw this happen every single time. They begin with making a connection. “This necklace would look lovely on you.” or “You have the face to pull off braids.” (Used on yours truly.) It plants a simple question in the prospects mind, “Really?” When they see that look of interest, they move to the next step.

Providing a bonus or sample.

The vendor picks up on your interest and begins the process of showing the value of their product or service. Most often, I heard: “We’ll give you the beads at no charge,” or “Listen to my jams (complete with 30 seconds of ‘free’ listening.)”

Focusing on the benefits for the close.

This happened to me with a hair braider. I asked for $10 worth of braids. As she was braiding, the lovely lady said, “You’d look gorgeous with your whole crown.”

She talked me into it with the ease of care, the lovely look, etc. I ended up spending $85 on 46 braids.

I had a little buyer’s remorse afterward because I like to see what I’m getting, but it was one of those things you do on vacation. I also got to interview this lady on her culture and profession. This is where I learned their most valuable sales strategy.

Selling like their life depends on it. 

The people of the islands have little industry or choice of professions, so they take their skills and put them to work. Yes, it’s a little annoying to sit on the beach and be asked to buy this or that. However, it’s an interesting study of how effective they are at sales. They do it because their livelihood lies in their drive to hit the beach and close the sale.