veg market car boot

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Two pounds a punnet: car boot fruit & veg and meat sellers demonstrated sales confidence

“Not many people here today, Margaret.” The two old dears at the car boot sale pitch next to us were sharing how their day had not been very fruitful. But they seemed happy. I imagine Margaret and Sheila’s primary objective was not so much to sell, but to have a nice day out. Tick.

In stark contrast was the man selling meat from a van and a similar fellow hawking fruit & veg. “Come on ladies, strawberries now only two pound-a-punnet!” Non-stop, all morning long. Sell, sell, sell. And so they did. So, what’s the difference in their sales confidence? A lot.

“How much?” This is the question you get asked most at a car boot sale. Some sellers price everything. Most don’t. The protocol is that the buyers are expected to hold something up, or point, and ask. It is the seller’s reply that is the most important part and it’s not even the price you respond with. Instead, it is how you respond. This is where you need to be sales confident.

When asked, some sellers hesitated and then said the price. If you were buying a second-hand car from a dealer and that same thing happened – a brief pause – you would immediately think “hold on, I bet he’d sell that for less”. This is because when the seller pauses it seems like they are searching for an answer. You then think that if they are searching for an answer then who’s to say that they landed on the right answer first time. Your suggestion of an alternative answer, or price, might well be accepted.

In response to a hesitant answer, about half of the buyers quickly replied “Would you take [a lower number]?”. And, largely, sellers did.

Other sellers replied in an unsure way: “How much is this vase?”, asked a man holding up a vase. The seller’s reply of “Eight…pounds, please” sounded unsure. Certainly not sales confident. The response? “Would you take £4?”

There is a link between the insecurity of the tone and the offer that comes back. The more insecure the tone, the more the buyer will try their luck. No one asks the meat man or the fruit & veg man ‘how much?’ because they are sure of their pricing. Never has either said: “Ooh, um… about 20 pound love, I think”. Their prices are what they are and people accept it. They’re confident, and they don’t hesitate. It’s something worth remembering in sales negotiations.