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    How to Sell to Americans

    I’ve been travelling a lot over the past few weeks, and I recently returned from a trip to the Dominican Republic. I’m always struck by the different selling tactics utilized in other countries, and I’ve found some common techniques among those selling in the Caribbean. My experience showed me that young men follow you around, constantly ask if you want to buy this or that, and if you touch anything, they’ll pressure you even more than before. They’ve created these “relationships”, where one person will go to the beach and convince you to go down to the shopping center, where he’ll then proceed to lead you to all the shops where he receives commission. It’s so frustrating to be hounded on the beach, on the way to the market, in the market, and on the way out of the market. It makes me, my mom, my sister, and my travelling female companions lose our desire to shop! And, our male companions are annoyed with the need to be over-protective when these “salesmen” come around.

    My mom finally gave one guy an extra dollar because he DIDN’T pressure her while she was shopping! And, she told him the reason for the extra money was because he wasn’t constatly bothering her. She gave the guy a free lesson on how to sell to Americans, and it may seem counter-intuitive… leave them alone and let them shop! You would think that after seeing similar behavior every day, the local vendors would learn that in-your-face techniques backfire. It makes a buyer feel like they’re being suckered into something they don’t want or need, which increases the likelihood of post-purchase dissonance. While this may seem high-level, it makes a difference when a group of shoppers returns and tells all the other potential shoppers not to frequent the local market because of the uncomfortable conditions. The vendors would sell more if they backed off a little!

    However, I must admit, they have perfected one portion of the selling cycle. They’re good closers, and they know how to ask for the sale, which is a failure of many amateur sales people. When I was a leasing agent, it was imperative to offer a lease application at the end of each tour of the property. If you fail to ask, you often fail to close the sale. While their methods were annoying, the local vendors in the Dominican were on target with their desire to close the sale. Take a lesson from each extreme: be helpful without pressuring the buyer, but have the guts to close the sale when you’ve found a suitable solution to the shopper’s problem.

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