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Learning Advertising from the Greatest Salesmen

This is the story of how I met one of the best salesmen.

Copywriter, Hopkins wrote continuously, “Advertising is salesmanship in print.” Some of the best ways to become a fantastic advertiser is to study expert salesmanship.

My girlfriend told me about a group of people at her mall that she dreads walking by. They’ve persuaded her to buy, one of her relatives, and one of our friends. The grand total these salesmen made off of just these three people had been over $300.00. If these people make eye contact with you, they’ve essentially already closed the sale. These salesmen run Dead Sea Premier kiosks. These kiosks carry skincare and grooming supplies.

Because I wanted to learn how these guys closed sales so well, I asked my girlfriend to take me to one of their booths. She was reluctant. She warned me how good they were, but I was so curious that I decided I’ll take on the risk. I truly doubted any salesman was that good.

There were at least two of these Dead Sea Premier kiosks at the mall. We walked by and around the first of these kiosks, but the salesman didn’t even try to sell to us! He primarily focused on getting two older women instead. He was familiar with his target demographic. Apparently, it wasn’t me.

However, I was really, really determined to get sold to. We then approached another one of their kiosks. A salesman then came up to us. To protect the innocent, let’s name this salesman, Mr. Accent (he had a strong accent). He was from Israel – which gave him credibility of knowing about the Dead Sea skincare benefits.

First thing he asks, is for us to put out our hands. My hands were in my pockets so I pretended to be hesitant. He reassured me, and then I took my hands out. He implies that my hands are nice, and then he immediately transitions me near a bucket where he places my hands. I was nervous because I was completely determined to not buy. He jokes about how I’m standing so far away from the kiosk and their lotion/cleanser. That forced me to be polite and to step closer.

This cleanser makes my office hands smoother than I thought were even possible. Then, all the dirt from my hands make the white bucket look nearly brown. So Mr. Accent jokingly asks me if I took a shower. My girlfriend and I laughed. Already, by this time, the color of the bucket had completely surprised me. He gives a reasonable explanation as to why this is. I’m now interested. My defenses are starting to come down. I even stupidly agreed how the product is amazing to him.

From my knowledge of persuasion, here’s what Mr. Accent did:

  1. Reciprocity. Tried the product for free. I’m using up his valuable time. I start to feel like I owe him something in return.
  2. Scarcity. Near the end of his demonstration and pitch, he tells me that they’re doing a 1-day sale. Not very believable, but he gave an actual reason for this. If I recall correctly, it was because it was their 10-year anniversary today. Using scarcity with an actual reason is much, much more effective than scarcity alone.
  3. Authority. He’s essentially from the Dead Sea. So I trust he knows his facts well.
  4. Consistency. He made me admit that the product worked amazingly well and that I was completely surprised by the results. If I think the product is good, why wouldn’t I buy it?
  5. Likability. This guy is incredibly friendly and even humorous. The guy seems cool to me. He got me to believe that he’s on my side and this is the best price his manager will ever let him give. (Side note: He also showed me respect before he said much to my girlfriend. Also, he was courteous to her but never flirtatious.)

There are a total of six principles of influence according to Dr. Cialdini. I listed five that were used by Mr. Accent.

At the end of this demonstration, we nearly bought. My pride (of not being willing to be persuaded) stopped me from buying. However, my girlfriend plans on going back to buy. We got him to drop the price so low that I think it’s a good deal when my girlfriend buys it later.

I told Mr. Accent that I did online advertising. We also complemented him on salesmanship skills. He admitted that he closes about 80-90% of people that he has test the products.

In summary, even though I didn’t buy today, I was still persuaded that his product is good and that we should buy from him later.

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15 thoughts on “Getting 80-90% Conversion Rates on $60+ Retail Purchases

  1. A lot of the big malls in MA have people who do this. Usually starts with the hand cleaning stuff.

    I’ve seen two types of people working them. Foreigners, like the guy from Israel with really thick accents, and smoking hot model looking people.

    Like you said everyone feels bad because they clearly don’t want to be a jerk to the guy but at the same time they don’t want to be sold to. I’ve seen people walk by and just be like ‘F— YOU DON’T TOUCH ME’ and it was hilarious.

    Its funny in America that we try and say be nice to everyone, and the marketers make bank off this. Its in public to, this helps them a TON. Who wants to act like a prick and ignore the person in front of like 300 other people.

  2. Oh I feel so proud to be an Israeli 🙂

    It’s funny, we do we have a lot of people flying to the US to sell Dead Sea products after they finish their military service.

    Just FYI – there are very talented salesmen in this business but the pitch you were presented by this Mr. Accent was something he learned from his bosses and memorized well. And again, this pitch was thoroughly tested an optimized so there’s a reason for that.

    One more thing – I think what gives Israeli salesmen the high conversion rate is the cultural difference – our medittereanean character makes (most of) us more friendly to strangers (and slightly less polite and more direct 🙂 ) and combining this with the American manners and as you said – no one wants to be a prick when getting approached in public – it definitely helps the conversion rate 🙂

  3. How very brave of you to take the trip to their booths. This is a good lesson in sales, the public approach and people manner totally make sense in marketing.. Amazing how this guy closes about 80-90% of his test products.

  4. Hey Mike! I actually took a dip in the Dead Sea once; I had the skin of a 3 year old for 6 months after that! 😉

  5. i got nabbed by dead sea sirens at the Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Fl. about 2 years ago. I was DRUNK and just won a bunch of cash playing blackjack. I actually had a lot of fun with their pitch. I knew it was a hard sell pitch and crap product, but it was fun to see how effective it was. Plus I was drunk and the Israeli girl was hot.

    I spent $40 on their crap and gave it away to someone. I got her down from 80 bux to 40 and she rung me up. She then said there was sales tax but i told her i wouldnt pay that since this is an indian reservation. She said “only indians are exempt” and she laughed when i swore up and down i was cherokee. I didnt have to pay the tax.

    You can learn so much from the Israelis salespeople at mall kiosks.

  6. Mike, great timing with this post. I had to pull the wife away from one of these booths just the other day. Def can learn from them. Wonder how much they bank.

  7. I used to get my hustle on selling used DVDs at a kiosk at Potomac Mills and again at Tyson’s corner selling iPod covers; both in Virginia. They were horrible jobs, but I got to practice my sales skills and work on my Facebook campaigns in between customers so I was able to put up with it.

    I had a young Pakistani guy working next to me selling knock off cologne for a while. That mofo could sell scented water to a fish. I also got a kick out of the rivalries that would develop between competing kiosks over $10-$20 sales.

  8. So funny! I just came across your site by accident and this was one of the first articles I read.

    The funny part is that I live in South Africa and we have exactly the same kiosks in many of the malls here!

    Just as in this case, the stalls are manned by attractive Israelis and whilst I’ve never allowed myself to be sucked in, I’ve watched them and they are indeed top notch salespeople.

    We can learn a lot from the characters 🙂

  9. Israeli guys are leeches all over US malls selling this dead sea crap

    The only reason they close sales is demonstration to show that it works, instead of talking about it… The benefits might be questionable.

  10. hi

    i work in south africa for a kiosk like this , we are in several malls !!

    me personally mostly in Nelspruit and johannesburg !

    yeah like you say israeli’s are the best and what we do is hard but in the end defnitly worth it. To have a success rate of 90 is very good i have one of about 70!!!!!

    so yeah guys come and check me out !!!!!!

    I work for OBEY YOUR BODY!!!

    come by eastgate mall , The glen, Northgate, Design quarter , Riverside mall and Ilanga mall and ask for shaun!!!!!!!!!

    see you soon!!!

    yalla leilatov!!!!!!

  11. You really want to get sold.. Go to Jamaica, and just hang around the street vendors.. The ones that actually sell you handmade stuff… They are usually barefoot and almost scary looking.. But the sales jobs these guys are second to none.. I’ve not seen anything more PURELY authentic, no trickery.. Just Mastery… I was amazed at how much “stuff” we came home with… Where we said we’ll only spend couple hundred.. we ended up dropping a 1gnote on the street.. Ya theses guys were THAT good… Check it out for yourself.. The Dead Sea Scrub , was also good, but you know you are being sold… Jamaica… My wife and I were so mesmerized.. By elements like – Story, Ego stroking(that felt real), Value comparisons, Reciprocation and about 10 other elements.. and A whole slew of things that I’ve never seen been used before… True masters…
    Thought I’d share my experience..

    Ttfn

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