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Sell Like the Fair Guy

Yesterday, my kids and I took our annual “last hurrah” summer trip to the Iowa State Fair.  I grew up in Minnesota and spent many a summer day and evening enjoying Minnesota’s fair.  I have taken that tradition down to my kids and try to make it to the Iowa fair once a year. 

On this trip I noticed some expert salesmanship that small businesses should take note of for their next show, exhibit and event.

Fair sales tip #1 – Don’t let them “think” about the sale.  Make the most of your presentation and offer customers something they can’t refuse.  If they don’t buy now, they will not get the same offer (unless they sit through another presentation). The Super Chammy guy in the grandstand was an expert at this.  His presentation was 3 ½ minutes long.  In the beginning he wowed his small audience by dumping a whole liter of cola onto a 12X12 square of white carpet.  He then soaked the whole thing up with his magic Super Chammy, leaving behind no stain and an almost dry carpet (I know, I felt it myself).  The next minute was used to share other uses for the Chammy. Use it for spills, dishes, cars and even swimmers (my kids are swimmers and were immediately sold when they were told Michael Phelps uses one after he swims). The last 30 seconds were spent talking about price. And then he did it.  He told us that the first 5 lucky people who raised their hands would receive a 2 for 1 deal.  Amazing.  He immediately counted the hands to five, and took his twenty bucks from each.  Did the not so lucky losers leave the area?  No!  They loitered around until he did his next presentation one minute later.   3 ½ minutes later he easily sold 5 more deals.    The trick to this is to truly offer something special and be honest in your presentation.  The Shami guy did have a great product.  The product did what it was supposed to do.  And the offer was better than they offer on the internet.  His profit was smaller, but he was selling more volume than he usually would.

Fair Sales Tip #2 -Make your buyers advertise for you – Notice that when you go to a fair or exhibit there are one or two things that you see everyone carrying around. You want to ask them where they got it, don’t you?  Yesterday it was the Super Chammy and a hair tie(name unkown). The Shamis were not packaged in a bag. Instead they were rolled up and bound together with a rubber band and a flyer advertising the website, etc.  Everywhere you looked Shami’s were sticking out of peoples purses, backpacks and bags.  Personally, I knew I needed one before I even hit the grandstand.

The other product was a hair tie that magically transformed your little girl into a ballerina princess. Every little girl under the age of 10 with shoulder length hair was sporting a little ballerina bun and a huge proud smile.  When we hit the grandstand I watched my 9 year old daughter’s eyes searching for something.  Bingo! She spotted the booth and the line of little girls.  Of course we went and got in line. Instead of just shopping for our favorite color, a sales person took Leah’s hand and led her to a chair.  2 minutes later, she was a little ballerina with big pouty “please please please” eyes.  What mother on earth would make her take that of her hair and walk away as a has-been ballerina.  Certainly not me! We bought it, and she kept it in her hair to join the other little sales girls out on the fairgrounds.  We were asked 3 times where we got it.

Sales Tip # 3 Line Them Up – Ever notice how people will line up behind other people just to see what everyone is waiting for.  This phenomenon was everywhere.  Booth owners caught on to this very quickly.  Instead of offering free stuff for people to walk up and grab, business owners arranged their giveaways and samples in a systematic way so that people had to start at the beginning and go all the way to the end.  There was free items and samples in the beginning, middle and end. What was in between all of this free stuff?  Sales people. Brochures. And of course things to buy!.  And people were buying right there.  Who would want to wait in line again!  Again, this approach minimizes people “thinking” about the purchase and coming back later. 

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