Grass Roots Sales Tips: Body Shapers & David Jones

In life, everyone needs grass-roots grounding. Very early on, I was thrown into the deep end of salesmanship, and it was one of the most helpful experiences I’ve ever had.

When I was a university student, I used to be a department store “demonstrator” (spruiker, really). This began with a stint over the university holidays selling body shapers at David Jones’ flagship store in Elizabeth St, Sydney. My sister and I were set up with a microphone and a small stage between the escalators on the ground floor, opposite Make-up, and, wearing black leotards, we took it in turns to exercise while the other talked on the microphone. In between demonstrations we sold the product.

There were similar demonstrations at every other David Jones store across Sydney, but my sister and I out-sold them all by far.

It was a real thrill, and as university students, we needed the money. But mainly, it was the BEST FUN, and this is the real key: we loved it and it showed! Because of this attitude, and good practical demonstration skills, body shapers walked out the door that summer at David Jones, where, we were told by management, “Elizabeth St ladies never perspire”.

It was at the coalface of selling – only door-to-door selling could have been more basic and challenging – and it stood me in good stead for the rest of my life. I learnt the basic principles of sales on the job, and importantly I learnt they relate to every facet of selling from products, to educational subjects and information, to managing people (including one’s children), to philosophical theory (like climate change or smoking).

Here are some of the things I learnt at the coalface of sales:

1. Be honest and genuine

We made a lot of sales, for example, by telling people they could go down the road to Woolworths for a cheaper version of the product. I’ve applied this principle ever since (and you know people can smell a charlatan or or conman).

2. Believe in your product

After a few days demonstrating the body shaper, the physical results showed on our own bodies. It was easy to tell people they really worked.

3. Make sure your product is worth believing in

There’s no point believing in snake oil if all it is, is snake oil. That would just make you an idiot. If you don’t believe in your product, then find one you can believe in.

4. Love your clients or customers

Seriously! The customer is always right. Make sure you genuinely want to help them, and learn to know what they want and need.

5. Be confident

People respond to confidence & happiness. You don’t need me to tell you that ads of every kind are full of happy faces. This is for a variety of psychological reasons, but we don’t need to go into them here.

6. Be good at it

Whatever your product is, from a body shaper, a recruitment service or a sophisticated psychometric system, know it inside out and become an expert (but from your point of view – don’t pretend to know about something that you don’t).

7. The proof is in the pudding

My sister and I could prove the body shaper worked because we were always facing the audience in one direction. This meant that after only a few days of exercising on only one side, we became our own “before & after” example. People took one look at the difference between the sides of our bodies and just bought it. But we had to firstly notice it ourselves, and then we had to show them.

Provide evidence of how well your product works, and why.

8. Love what you do

You’ve only got one life, so make everything you do count towards your personal satisfaction. Success attracts success, and people will be drawn to you and your product.

9. Make sure people know you’re there

At David Jones, we had a microphone and a relatively captive audience.

You have to communicate your products and services. There’s no point in having the best product in the world, if no-one knows you do.

10. Look the part

My sister & I were young, slim, happy and reasonably fit. It helped a lot that we looked good in leotards.

Live your brand. If you are an HR Consultant or recruiter, then you might be the brand so dress appropriately, be well-groomed and be on time and courteous.

In every facet of life, a good sales technique helps. I have an old friend who is a magistrate, and she says she often wants to say to an un-engaged prosecuter, “Sell it to me!”. I think it applies to everything.

Selling is basic to human nature, not just because we like ”stuff”, but because it’s a genuine human exchange. As Sue Barrett, sales recruiter and blogger says, “Everyone lives by selling something.” A positive “sales” attitude applies to everything you do in life. It communicates that you are genuine, happy and useful, and have something unique to offer.

Lynette Jensen

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* This is a personal view and does not necessarily represent the opinion, belief or policy of the company. More posts below.

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