Project Meyampuk: How Meaningful Conversation Can Improve Sales

As a salesperson, not only do we have to know "WHY?" we are selling; we need to understand "WHY?" the customers would want what we are selling. How would the "stuff" fit in their life? How or what would they use it for? Is it a need? Or is it a want? And, when would they want or need it?

Project Meyampuk: How Meaningful Conversation Can Improve Sales
Photo by Qiming Chen on Unsplash
Menyampuk” - to butt in into others’ conversations, without being invited to..
 
At 11:15 am, I “belum kena” (haven’t had) my daily caffeine fix. Thus, after browsing through the collectables at “The Collectible Market” held at the Paradigm Mall today (on a Sunday), I duly queued at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf outlet (Coffee Bean). If you know me well (which I guess most of you don’t, yet) I’m waiting to inject a good dose of “cold brew nitro” into my veins… Ok, ok, more like into the mouth, picked up by the tastebuds on my tongue, down through my throat, into my abdomen, down through the intestines, absorbed by the villi in the intestines, and passed on to my circulation system ie veins and arteries, bla bla bla... and then!
 
No, I'm not like David or Bruce Banner (depending on how was your intro to "Hulk") who turns green or Morbius who becomes strong when he gets blood. No, my thinking circuitry just becomes alert when I get my shot of caffeine. If in the evening, it will be the “chai latte tea”.
 
 
 

I’m Telling You

I’m telling you these so that if you want to “date” me, this is my favourite coffee outlet and my drinks there. As I was queueing, I saw the dude in front of me wearing this t-shirt, from the back. Later, as I was waiting for my drink, this dude was waiting for his drink too, with his friend.
 
 
 

Sampuk

Apparently, both were fans of Marvel characters and comics. Thus I “sampuk” them (butt in into the conversation nicely, albeit in a “kay-poh-chee” or busybody way). But not in the kay-poh-chee way la… (confused?). As the t-shirt had “More Than A Fan” written on the front side, I asked the dude, “You must have watched ALL the movies listed on the back of the t-shirt, some of them may be more than twice, have the games on them, got all the comics, posters and all?”
 
He sheepishly admitted, “Errrr…….yes”. To which I asked, “You are here looking for more?” - as the market just started (I feigned a surprised face). And the buddy replied, “No, we have to sell some of our collections. Running out of space at our houses.” I was intrigued, “Are you doing this full-time, part-time? Do you make money selling this stuff?” and “Do your interests remain the same? Or do they evolve/revolve?” Just like a kay-poh-che aunty asking…
 
He said, “That is among the challenges!” He went on to explain that as interests change and evolve, things that you were hunting like crazy at one, now almost became “meh…”, untouched for many months, or even years. Yes, I see that with my son - the Ultramen we bought for him, the Godzillas, the Gundams (which he completed in a few hours, and those that are still in the box!), the Manga stuff etc.
 
 
 

Hobby or Obsession?

Comics that you were crazy about at some point, you have read more than ten times, and had not been touched for years! This seemed to confirm what I experienced with my hobbies and also what I observed with my sons. As we walked along the market this morning, I pointed to Arif things that he was crazy about at some times in his earlier childhood - Ultraman, Power Rangers, Godzilla, Gundam, Manga figurines etc. - and he would go, “ok…” Just “ok”.
 
I could still remember the two times he begged and begged me to get his first two Godzillas! Now it was just “ok”.
The same goes with these two guys. They went really crazy for some stuff and are now just “ok”. Still, they said, as they were sorting out stuff that they thought they could let go of, they were playing almost a tug-of-war with the stuff. Sometimes they felt nostalgic and sentimental over the items.
 
 
 

Letting Go

But they had to let some go, to “roll the funds” and make way for new stuff”. Often maybe break even overall and sometimes made good money if the item is “seriously” collectible. That, if they don’t take into account the rental of the booth or spot at such a market. They are also not doing this full-time - as collectible sellers. It’s a hobby. They would put up a booth at this kind of market from time to time to clear the space in their houses.
 
At times I had to part ways with my beloved bicycles too. No, I did not make a profit with any one of them. I had a break-even on one though - the Brompton. It was because demands for Brompton at some point spiked! And remained high ever since. I looked at those bicycles differently, though most bikes that I sold off were vintage bikes. I bought some of them in pristine condition; or rebuilt to replicate the exact bike or at least similar to bicycles of that period - typically the time I was a teenager.
After riding them for some time, I modified and changed some components to make them easier to live with and ride daily. Thus losing their “vintage” and “pristine” values. I counted those as depreciation anyway and the fact that I had enjoyed riding those bikes regularly. Unlike most people who bought them as collectibles, and would like the value to appreciate.
 
 

A Selling Career/Profession

This brought me to ask myself, and would like to ask you the readers too, how do you see the things you are selling and your profession/career as a salesperson? Are these collectibles, daily essentials, or what purpose do they serve? Would that be something that the customers need, want, or just have for fun? Any prestige, value - real or perceived - attached to it? These are the essential questions that you need to ask yourself and your customers. And you need to know the “appetite” of your customers too.
 
 
 

Necessities versus Desires

Typically for businesses, if they are small and medium enterprises, they would go for necessities (needs) rather than their wants. If they began to taste success, they’ll start to spend on their wants too. Very seldom that they’d splurge on things they want - ever heard the word “bootstrapping”?
 
Similarly for individuals too. When they earn the very bare to meet their basics, they’ll spend on the very basic stuff. But once they make a bit more, they’ll start to spend on their wants. Sometimes, they don’t even “upgrade” the quality or level of the basic stuff but they’ll splurge on their wants.
 
 
 

Observe and Understand

Thus as a salesperson, you would have to learn, observe and understand this pattern of needs, wants, and even luxuries. And meet these requirements. For you to achieve that understanding, you have to give your time, attention, and effort to understand the customer, and the client. A worthwhile investment I can guarantee you. And like most investments, even the collectibles, you have to be patient and wait for the time for it to rise in value and bear fruits - sometimes, not from the expected channel.