Sales lesson from the souk

It was hot. It was chaotic. But above all, it was fragrant. That’s what I remember most: the scents. And the colours, the incredibly vibrant colours. 

Colourful market at sunset

The very best time to sell somebody something is right after they’ve just bought.

Cairo was a crazy, beautiful city, full of life. This was way before the Arab Dawn. I have no idea what it’s like now, and the young me grieves for Egypt.

Wandering around the souks, juice stalls, and trinket sellers, I learned a lot about selling and running a business before I even knew that’s what I’d end up doing. Mostly, I just wanted to wander around soaking up the life and wrapping it around myself in hopes I could take some of it home.

But then I floated into a cloud of jasmine, and… something else. Something sweet but not cloying. With a sharp, spicy edge. And I looked up at the perfume seller waving a tiny bottle under my nose.

I hadn’t gone out to buy anything, but how could I resist something that delicious? Jasmine is my favourite scent.

So, we haggled, and I parted with some money, turned around – and found myself the absolute centre of attention. Stallholders all around me were suddenly vying for my attention, waving their wares in front of me, imploring me to take a look.

“La, shukran!”

Lots of smiles, regretful “no, thank yous”, and waves at the lovely women who’d wanted to touch my blonde hair.

That was a sales lesson in full Technicolour: those stallholders had made me the centre of their universe because they understand something most small business owners don’t: the very best time to sell somebody something is right after they’ve just bought.

They’re in a buying mood, you see.

What can you offer your customers just after they’ve bought from you? What else might they want?



Vicky Fraser is a copywriter, author, and entrepreneur. She really did run away with the circus… but when she’s not swinging from a trapeze, she’s showing other copywriters and small business owners how to work with better clients, make more money, and stop missing bathtimes, first words, and dinners with angry partners. In fact, she wrote the book on it. Get your copy here.

PS We spent a day tackling the garden on Sunday, which included mowing the lawns. And Joe managed to do this

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