Philip Hoff
Philip Hoff

By Philip Hoff, MD – MIP Process Technologies

I had a manager who once said to me: “If you cannot learn from your own experience, learn from other people’s experiences.

Travelling the world from North to South and East to West, one encounters people with different viewpoints, education levels, experience and backgrounds. Luckily, one comes in contact with different selling techniques and salesmanship.

So which nations are the best at it?

The Americans have the eloquence of speech and are the undisputed masters of marketing. The Italians, they have the passion, speaking with their hands; the Germans make the best quality products and that, with their legacy, is what sells for them! The Chinese are more subdued; selling on price is the big issue and the Indians can bargain with the best.

Then we have the Africans; the Mauritians at the market in Port Louis makes sure they address you in Afrikaans; the Nigerians invented the 419 scheme and are still catching people. The South African traffic light street sellers will always start with, “Hey boss, you are driving my dream car” for their opening line. It is meant to make you feel good so they can peddle their hangers, cellphone chargers, South African sport shirts or sunglasses, etc.

Having said all that, in my humble opinion, the nation where Europe meets Asia, is the best at it. My first experience of the Turkish sales techniques was in 2013. During a trip to the market in Kusadasi, the Turkish sellers, address and speak to you in Afrikaans (yes, Afrikaans!), German, French or Italian. They speak English like a Londoner.

I had the “privilege” of encountering a reputable carpet manufacturer. Many cups of Turkish tea later and seeing hoards of guys hauling carpets, in and out, of different types and sizes, is something to behold. Needless to say, I succumbed and walked away with a silk carpet designed by some very important Sultan.

But I leave the best for last.

On a recent visit to Istanbul, a shoe shiner with his wooden box of tools, walked past me, one of his brushes fell out as he was about to pass me. Knowing the value to him, I stopped him. He was extremely grateful for my act of kindness and offered to clean my shoes. He was very friendly (I saw this as being grateful), asking me about my family, and telling me about his.

Thankful for my shoeshine, I offered him a tip of TL2.00 (approximately R10.00), knowing a shoe shine at my South African airport costs R20.00. No, he says, “I want notes, it costs TL9.00 (R45.00).

I refused to pay and walked off, thinking how ungrateful he was considering I showed him he had lost his shoe shine brush worth at least TL50.00.

At that moment I see another shoe shiner in front of me doing exactly the same “drop the brush move” to someone else!!

This is their “hook” to sell!!

Brilliance or trickery – be warned! I am in awe!