The Tale of Two Carts

I love travelling on trains when on business.  It ticks all the boxes for me. Good with my CO2’s, laptop on the table, comfy seat, countryside whizzing by, no effort from me, cost effective, quiet carriage and a fresh cup of coffee.

And it’s the last benefit that reminded me of selling practices last week.

Gloucester to Mansfield, with a change at Derby, meant two Intercity trains both with refreshment carts that I could choose from and enjoy. But what a difference in the way they were handled.

Cart Number One. Moving up and down the walkway. Quiet. Calling “coffee, tea, hot chocolate?” repetitive and apologetic.  Worried should people say no. Didn’t want to be there.

Cart Number Two. Enthusiastic and believing in their value. “Who’s peckish then?”, “You like the look of my beverages don’t you madam?” Cheeky, looking for opportunities, watching us, looking for signals, alert. If someone said no thanks “Not a problem, but if you change your mind just holler”, “It’s that time, don’t you think, for a cuppa”, “Sir, I saw you peeking at my trolley, anything grab your attention?” “Why not treat yourself Sir, to a piece of cake with that tea?”

The parallels are everywhere in sales particularly retail sales. People who are asked to cross sell products to customers calling into their space.  Building society cashiers, PC World assistants, B&Q helpers, conservatory salespeople, IFAs.

The tip is to emulate our friend on the Refreshment Cart – it wasn’t a particularly rewarding job, lots of potential rejection and repetitively wandering up and down. But don’t take it too seriously, detach yourself a little from the pressure, show enthusiasm and then just look for opportunities like the gentleman caught sneaking a peak at his trolley, throw out some bait and just ask.

It’s not that difficult to cross sell.  We just make it so in our heads.

But do you know what the best part of business travelling by train is?  People watching, don’t you just love watching people? I might write about that next time.