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Selling is a life skill they say. True that. If we take a brief pause and observe the quotidian things we perform, you will face the biggest awe. Not really. Take a break if you are getting too excited. You will just realise that whatever you do involve some or the other sales component and this presents an interesting background to contemplate certain observations. Let’s start with the most basic one. What drives a sale or a buying decision? More often than not, it’s the need. We buy a tooth paste because it addresses a need. A need to kill the germs which would otherwise make us sick which would in turn prevents us from doing our daily wok, which again involves some type of selling ( A job where you sell your skills, a business where you sell a product or a service and an endless list of such things).

The need again is of two types, the inherent need and the created need. Other words: must haves and good to haves. Examples could be a smart phone and an iphone respectively. The sales dynamics of the inherent needs are fairly simple. You need something and you don’t have a choice but to buy it. What’s more interesting is the created need. This is particularly important for entrepreneurs and the sales personnel involved in a start-up because more often than not entrepreneurs and start-ups try to come up with solutions that don’t exist yet. They try to create a need or address an existing need with a new innovative product/service.

With this pretext I tried to observe how few simple words made me end up buying those things which I probably would have done away with had it not been for those words. The examples discussed here are picked up from simple daily experiences and do not involve any fancy presentations or big talks but simple daily words (Some of the words were actually from Hindi and other local languages and they are represented as they were uttered with translations where needed)

Aur Kuch? (Anything else?)

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For most part of my past two years, I had lunch at a small Punjabi restaurant in Hyderabad. Good little place with healthy food. We were always served by an attendant named Viru, a humble 20 something kid who never had any formal training on what he does. But what surprised me is that knowingly or unknowingly he makes the customer order that extra dessert or a cold drink. All he does is ask this simple question every day after taking the order and before getting the cheque. No powerful words but simple ‘Aur Kuch?’ with a natural warm smile and we quite often ended up buying those milk shakes, which we wouldn’t have ordered otherwise.

Repair works but YOUR car needs replacement

We were once on a road trip to Chennai and of course we were speeding up and doing all sorts of things on the highway, which we are supposed to do in life but not talk about them. (I know that you got it right). Road trips are great but for those wild cats and dogs. Yes we hit a dog and a new Volkswagen just with an ultra-minor accident looked like one of those antique pieces you put on auction. Soon we ended up at the VW service centre; they diagnosed the car and guess what everything that got even a minor needed a replacement. Repair se nahi chalega? (Can’t we manage with a repair)? He answered in a part Tamil and part English that repair works sir but YOUR (look at the emphasis here) car needs replacement. So ‘the car’ doesn’t need a replacement but ‘our car’ needs a replacement. What’s the difference? This guy doesn’t even know us.

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Yes that’s the difference. Little words with emphasis on making the customers feel special works. Guess what? Do the hell with repair. We ended up replacing all the damaged parts.

But next month you have to pay more

In early 2013, Microsoft sold the newly launched Windows 8 at a highly discounted price. During the same period my laptop battery had a problem and I went to the Sony authorised reseller to buy one. All good until the store keeper asked me, “Sir, would you like to upgrade to Windows 8?”  I told him I would do it next month or so. He immediately said, “But next month on wards, you have to pay a lot more.” For someone who used a cracked version all through his life, the explanation was weird. Come on. Who pays for Windows? He started explaining how it would become impossible to use a cracked version as Microsoft would detect them the moment you go online. (Which I did not care as I knew Microsoft had been saying that ever since internet went main stream). He followed that up with explain that I would save as much as 5 times if I upgrade it now.

As usual I fell for it. It was of course a good decision considering the price I paid for it. But I didn’t need it. My windows 7 was working fine and even if Windows 8 were to be awesome I know I could still get the cracked version any day. But those words were compelling enough to make me buy a software (Indians, I know how hard it is.)

These are only a few examples and I am sure you all have had numerous such experiences. I am not saying use only such words. The emphasis was to discuss on how simple words can work in your favour. Big talks, engaging presentations are important but at the same time emphasis on using subtle and compelling words makes our life much easier. So, what are your not so salesy words?

[Contributed by Varun, co-founder of Mauka. An ardent fan of Steve Jobs and Yuvraj Singh. He is a 2012 Fellow in the prestigious Startup Leadership Program.]
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