Used Cars is one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. Kurt Russell plays a slick salesman who would do anything to sell a car. To sell our books, we won’t go to the lengths that Kurt did, but he had the principles of selling down well — to a hilarious extent.
I used Kurt’s methods (whittled down to my level) at the Venice, FL Book Fair this past weekend to sell my one title. A quick survey showed that vendors around me sold one or two books, while I sold many more.
Seven selling tips I learned from Kurt Russell:
1) Get out from behind your table.
Whenever a person wandered into the car dealership lot, Kurt dashed out to reel them in. Go to your customers, don’t make them come to you. Work the crowd. If you hide in the shadows, read a book or chat with other vendors, customers will walk on –there’s too much else to catch their attention.
2) Compete with other vendors.
Kurt was in competition with the car dealer across the street. Each sought to reach the public with ever-more glitzy promotions. No one of us wants to be that gauche, but we must catch the readers’ eyes. Display an item which gives a hint to your book subject, without cluttering your area. I had crime scene tape hung around the canopy. One author had a live raccoon. Invest in a large, colorful poster featuring your eye-catchy book cover, your picture, large-lettered testimonials. This will let readers know you’re a professional, an authority on your subject….or that others reviewed your book favorably. Give them reasons to have confidence in their purchase.
3) Smile big.
Kurt…Well, he always looks good. We must look approachable, like someone who’d be a pleasure to talk to…like someone who’d write an interesting book. If you’re not interesting, why would the prospective reader suppose your book would be interesting???
As soon as a person ran his hand over a car fender, Kurt knew he had a buyer. Watch for the browser whose eyes light on your poster or roam lovingly over the stacks of books. Look for the lonely passers-by who would love to talk books. They WANT to buy. Give them a reason to buy your book by communicating the benefits they’ll miss by NOT reading it. Know your target audience and tailor your list of benefits to them. Have that list in your mind to draw upon as the conversation allows.
Be helpful and, unlike Kurt’s smarmy character, be sincere. Even the smallest gift, compliment, or kind gesture, will create a bit of obligation in the mind of the buyer. I used my tea bag/card (see previous blog ) to start a conversation. I offered to get them out of the sun, into the shade of my canopy. I remarked on their dog. I guided them to my fellow vendor’s books. Be nice and people will be more inclined to let you tell them about your book.
6) Dig for Common Ground.
Kurt had a trick. If the buyer’s name was Gomez, he introduced himself as Sanchez. If the buyer’s name O’Hara, he’d give his name as O’Reilly and switch to a brogue. (Underhanded, but funny.) Start a discussion about the beautiful day, about purchases in their hand, about their jewelry–whatever might be a lead in to your book. I look for people who look athletic or who might travel or camp. Tailor your conversation to the person in front of you. Ask what your buyer likes to read, let them talk, but always bring the topic back to your book.
7) Make your book theirs.
Kurt always coaxed the customer into the seat of a car. Once inside, they were more inclined to buy. Put your book into the hands of your buyer….let them flip through the pages. If it feels good to them, they’ll buy.
Even if your visitors don’t buy, leave them with something…. a friendly feeling, a flyer with your Kindle version information, your little give-away, hints on how to begin writing a book, an invitation to visit your useful blog, and always an enthusiastic Thank You. They’ll remember you fondly and may come back to your table or buy on line. Several women returned hours later saying they HAD to buy my book.
Fill the pipeline by spreading your name and good feelings in every way possible and sales will come to you in the future.