Thoughts on Selling Booze at the School Fair

CaptureBeing a sales guy is terrifying.

You can only lose.

You can only leave money on the table. You can only undercharge.

The buyer will not pay more than she wants (in the vast majority of cases). People think it’s the other way around. The sales person is trained and the buyer is often an amateur (certainly in the B2C context) but the hard truth remains – the buyer has to value the product on offer more than the money in her purse otherwise the transaction will not occur. The sale will not be made.

The sales guy always leaves money on the table.

It’s simply a matter of how much. Sales guys don’t like to accept this as it does not accord with their self-image not because it isn’t true.

But in some cases where there is no expectation of how things should be, you can decide what psychologists probably call (I haven’t checked) the “frame”.

And of course this is not just about selling. It’s about all interaction. The selling bit above is just an example.

It’s that time of year again…

…the run up to Christmas. My children are maintaining the fiction of their belief in Santa for my benefit. Touching really. 

It’s school Christmas fair and I am manning the bottle tombola (mostly booze) – two-tickets-for-a-pound (our proposed frame), 5-to-1 chance of winning (a fact: five times as many tickets as bottles.)

Sales proceed smoothly as essentially selling booze cheaply is hardly the toughest sale.

But for the sheer hell of it…

…I decide on a new frame.

No one who has yet to buy a ticket knows the two-tickets-for-a-pound frame. So I can change it. And I do. I change it to four-tickets-for-two-pounds. Which has no real economic impact to the business as we have a defined pile of product but allows this busy executive to leave early and have a bacon sandwich and a wander around.

I’d say 80% of the punters went for the new frame without any demur. So I reckon, if we’d had a supply chain of cheap booze rather than a fixed amount of product to shift we’d have been sales heroes with all the accompanying trappings that brings.

Even some of my helpers who had yet to blossom into full confidence due to being 13 or something offered a multi-frame approach (“four-tickets-for-two-pounds or two-tickets-for-one-pound”). They still often got the bigger sale.

Now this is a trivial example…

…and there’s no real difference between a pound and two pounds and it’s all for a good cause and it is booze so the 80% success rate is perhaps easy to understand.

In my little business I find that I come up against potential customers all the time who have no idea what the “coach”” frame looks like which is an opportunity for me to take horrible advantage of them (and forever be looking for new customers) or to really tailor something great just for them and maybe turn them into an ongoing customer which means I can do less of the horrible sales thing.

And just look at the frames that have been changed recently:

  • You buy your music a track at a time if you want (a teacher at school said that a pupil had asked him recently “what’s a CD?”)
  • You rent all the music in the world for 15 quid a month if you want
  • You lease a car, don’t buy it
  • You sell your book on Amazon Kindle for a quid as a means of lead generation (at a profit instead of a cost)
  • You can be stumped when asked “why do you wear a watch?”
  • You no longer need a publisher to be published
  • You can be a publisher (who after all make most of the money in most industries where there’s a publisher in the supply chain)
  • You can have three part-time (and senior) roles and feel like a freedom-fighter who’s won
  • You can crowd-fund a project
  • You can trade foreign exchange like a pro from your kitchen table

All of these new frames went up against existing frames and won for a host of different reasons.

You can re-frame anything you like providing the new frame offers a win to both you and the human on the other end of it.

2 Responses to Thoughts on Selling Booze at the School Fair

  1. Clare December 16, 2013 at 3:44 pm #

    Really interesting examples Mark. Your application of concepts is second to none.

    • Mark Nugent December 16, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

      Thanks Clare. I still have a nagging feeling I shouldn’t be pushing booze, but it’s just so profitable!

Leave a Reply