Mohanís art of selling

Street vendors in India can be as customer savvy as any famous marketing guru. With barely any basic schooling, they live and operate by their wits. Their livelihood tools are speed, being hands-on, a thorough understanding of who their customer is, a persuasive personality with a ready smile, keeping an eye open and using some differentiating method to score over other street vendors, and the ability to be at the right place at the most opportune time. What more do you need to be able to sell?

In Mumbai's traffic jams are young vendors peddling books and magazines. One day I observed a bookseller rushing from one car window to another, reshuffling the order of the books in his hands. This aroused my curiosity.

During another Mumbai trip, at that ephemeral traffic signal, I again saw deft shuffling of books within the short, valuable time the street seller has to sell his wares. Here he works within the discipline of street lights, adjusts with the time car passengers take to read book blurbs, and simultaneously extracts money from them. I bought three books from a vendor called Mohan and had a chat with him at the street corner. When I asked him why he shuffled the books, Mohan laughed saying he changes the book display order for passengers on either side of the same car. Then he explained how to understand diverse kinds of customers. They have to quickly identify the customer type from looking at the car, how the driver is dressed, the mood of the passenger in the back seat. From Mohan's descriptions, I understood that he possesses the fine art of customer identification. He shuffles his books depending on on-the-spot recognition of customer type. How many frontline sales managers of corporations do you know who can absorb such sales techniques and apply them in their jobs?

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