The sun was at its scorching best that Thursday afternoon as I entered the trotro station. The
usual pushing, shoving and struggle for space between both humans and vehicles that
characterises the main Kwame Nkrumah Circle trotro station made the situation more
unbearable. I finally managed to board the stuffy mini-bus and rightfully I felt a sense of relief
to have finally escaped “far from the maddening crowd.” As I settled in among the few
passengers already in the vehicle I realised the wait was going to be long but I had no other
choice than to wait, and pray to God that the vehicle got filled up early enough.
Having resigned myself to having nothing to do but to wait, I found myself observing the
hawkers as they scurried to and fro trying to sell their wares. With all manner of sales strategies
acquired at the ‘School of Hard Knocks’, they tried to outwit both direct and indirect
competitors. Sales strategies in the lorry park range from the traditional to the sophisticated
(by hawking standards). While some were engaged in shouting on top of the voices to attract
the attention of prospects, others resorted the best way to grab your attention was to push
their wares as close to your nasal cavity as practicable.
Interestingly, I spied on a particular seller, an ice-cream seller, who was adopting quite an
‘unconventional’ means of selling and was achieving some considerable success. Whilst his
colleagues were moving from one vehicle to another trying all means possible to get people to
purchase or patronise their wares, this seller picked just one vehicle at a time to practise his
sales strategy. Fortunately for a keen observer with an interest in sales like I was, he picked our
vehicle which was more than half-full by then.
The sales strategy of this ice-cream seller was simple. He picks a vehicle that was almost full,
walks over to it and just stands there with his box on his head without saying a single word. No
fanciful selling antics, no shouting his lungs out, just simply standing in a position where anyone
who entered the vehicle would see him. When passengers entered the vehicle, all hot, tired
and obviously thirsty from trekking under the scorching sun, they would turn to look at the
“yoghurt” seller and as if by reflex go for one.
At first it came across to me as just coincidental but after four straight scores, I decided to
watch out for what would happen the next time someone came along. Sure enough, a middle-
aged woman came long to board the vehicle. Her demeanour was evidently one of someone
who had experienced a hard afternoon. After settling in, she glanced around as if for
something to buy. Though she looked in the direction of my subject of interest, i.e. the yoghurt
seller, it seemed she was not in the mood for an ice-cream.
After a few minutes passed without this woman buying whatever she had in mind. Then as if by
some magic she looked at the ice-cream seller and out of the blues ordered one for herself.
Once again, the master yoghurt seller had sold without ‘selling’. This gentleman, as was
evident, did not possess an MBA (Marketing option) but here he was putting into practise all
principles associated with the 4Ps of Marketing. His application of the rules of good product
placement was simply awesome. His use of the silent promotional tactics would have been the
envy of marketing guru, Philip Kotler.
To all those packed into the trotro that hot afternoon, there was nothing unusual about the
whole incident, but not to me. I found myself being educated by a seemingly ‘uneducated’
fellow right at the trotro station. The sales lessons I learnt from him were quite astounding.
LESSON # 1
The placing of a product (or service) is right only to the extent to which it offers convenience to
He realised that the consumers (i.e. we, the honourable patrons of the trotro) would find it
more appropriate not to have to shout across the station to call a yoghurt seller. The products
were literally right under our nose. To enhance the chances of you increasing your sales find the
most appropriate place to market your wares.
LESSON # 2
In sales, sometimes it pays to adopt a totally different and radical approach to beat off the
As a sales person, you do not always have to “go with the flow.” Do not do what everybody is
doing. Whilst his colleagues were scrambling all over the lorry park, he had placed himself
strategically and was reaping the rewards of having gone against the crowd.
LESSON # 3
Patience can sometimes be the best policy in a highly competitive market.
It does not always pay to react to every little change in the business environment. The yoghurt
seller knew better not to be moving from one vehicle to another whenever it seems as if he was
not going to make any sales at one particular vehicle. He was patient enough to wait for the
sale and truly the sale came. This technique is also used effectively by predators in the animal
kingdom. Animals such as spiders and chameleons, and plants such as the Venus’s flytraps do
not usually go chasing their preys. Even they know that “good things come to those who wait.”
LESSON # 4
Sometimes the best way to sell is not to attempt to sell at all.
He just stood there as if he had nothing to do. It seemed as if he was not selling whilst that was
exactly what he was doing and surprisingly he was closing more sales than most of his
Eventually, our vehicle became full and we got ready to leave the station. As the trotro left the
yard, the last lesson of the encounter dawned on me.
LESSON # 5
Life is a school. Everyone you meet is a teacher. Every encounter is a lesson. Every day could be a
time for a test. Therefore never disregard the teachers you come across everyday nor the daily
lessons you are taught in the University of Life.
J. N. HALM
P. O. Box DS 2134