Many of us shudder at the idea of “selling” and often shy away when required to do so. It is the fear of approaching new territory, of being rejected by customers or elaborating more on a product or service that overwhelms us.
On Thursday 23 January, my Design thinking class activity for the day was to sell our products/service at a trade fair at The Business School, Kingston University. This was an opportunity to showcase and sell our products to the public for the very first time.
The purpose of the trade fair was to have an experience of talking to real potential customers, who would test our product assumptions, test our knowledge of our products, test our people and selling skills, and also test our entrepreneurial attitudes.
But also secret judges were to attend the trade fair to judge our start-ups in 3 categories: Best Product, Best Sales Team and Best Trade Stand. I must admit that it was daunting as we were not certain of how the day would turn out. But nonetheless preparation was vital for my team particularly in terms of:
Our product is/was the Journal of Memoirs, which is a family oriented activity book that helps to fight loneliness and improve mental health through weekly interactive activities. We therefore ensured that prior to the trade fair we collated the content required for the book and shared with the graphics designer who further created visual impression of the content.
Our intention was to say more with fewer words through the leaflet. We therefore expounded on our product in the leaflet, the product benefit in addition to our contact details i.e. email address and social media platform for further customer engagements.
Planning for the trade stand
Inexpensive but also creative ways of making our stand attractive and approachable for customers is what we imagined so we created motivational quotes as take home for our customers, printed out both the prototype and the fliers to hand over to customers, feedback forms for instant feedback et cetera.
Our intention was for customers to easily identify us from the other teams so we agreed on a dress code with a touch of red.
And on to the actual trade fair, ready to meet customers and sell our product. Despite the fact that we were literally frightened of selling, the passion for our product motivated us to approach many customers which earned us an award for the best sales team.
An amazing experience it was and some tips learnt for the next trade fair include;
- Understand the product/service by heart to be able to explain the same to customers.
- Customers judge the brand personality from afar therefore being approachable is vital.
- Ensure that the display designs, packaging and branding communicate exactly what one intends to communicate to the customers.
- The trade stand communicates a story therefore tell more with less on the stand.
- Customer feedback is vital for continuous learning and improvement