You won’t sell more just because you’re cute

Miha Breskvar / / Sales

Three weeks ago I was hired by a new client. To give you an idea of what kind of consulting duties I was entrusted with, I have to tell you that my new employer was my three kids and a few of their friends from the campground. It all started on Saturday, when they spent the entire day painting rocks of all sizes and shapes, and then on Sunday the moment of truth arrived: Is my kids’ artwork worth anything and do my kids have any sales skills?

They set up their shop a few meters from our camper. That was great for Mom and Dad because we could keep an eye on them. It was a bit less great for them, because we were stationed practically at the end of the campground and anyone who sets out toward that point is headed for the beach—without a wallet, of course.

To our great surprise they learned their first lesson intuitively. It very quickly became clear to them that location is vital for good sales results. So they decided to move their shop. They moved it almost to the center of the campground, next to the cafe and the path leading to the grocery store, the vegetable and fruit stand, and the shop selling the obligatory swimming gear. Right to a location where people will definitely already have their wallets along.

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And then we had some peace and quiet for a while.

But not for long. Soon the kids came back to the camper, sad and disappointed. You can probably guess what my first question was: “So, did you sell anything?” Even though the answer was “Four rocks,” the way they said it immediately revealed that this didn’t qualify as a great sales success. Especially if we conduct a customer analysis. Their mom bought one rock, their grandma bought two, and their dad bought one (and I even bought it at a discount because I didn’t have enough change on me).

It all seems that in order to achieve good sales results you shouldn’t bet everything on how cute the salesperson is. Granted, that will get you free ice cream, lemonade, and many kind words. But not much of what the kids really wanted: cold, hard cash.

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I couldn’t stop thinking about their disappointed faces, so I offered them some help. I suggested that we do for their art shop what every single business has to do when it sells its products or services.

We started with a few basic questions:

1. Why would someone even buy your rocks?

It’s interesting that when you pose such a “business” question to kids, they jump right in and start brainstorming answers. The first idea was: “To crack nuts with them.” This may not have been the best suggestion because there weren’t a lot of walnut trees in the campground. But the ideas that followed made significantly more sense, revealing various new customer segments:

  • “To hold down tablecloths, so that the wind doesn’t blow them away.”
  • “To hold down napkins.” (Again for protection against the wind.)
  • “To put them on the ground in front of the camper, so that it doesn’t prick your feet.”
  • “We can run a string through the rocks with a hole and make a necklace.”
  • “As a souvenir, for foreigners.”

When we analyzed the benefits, the next question was completely logical.

2. Who do you think would buy your rocks?

We didn’t carry out a special survey or a detailed analysis or define the typical customer groups, but potential groups kept pouring out of their active young minds:

  • “Mommies.”
  • “People from other countries.”
  • “Daddies who want to keep the area around the camper nice and neat.”

When we identified people who would need the rocks and clarified how these rocks would be useful to them, we had to answer the next question.

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3. What makes your rocks special and different from the alternatives that solve the same problem?

Because they can’t paint even two rocks exactly the same way, all of their products are undoubtedly unique. Moreover, they can also be personalized or custom-made (so that they match the napkins, tablecloths, and the like).

The kids were still showing considerable interest in the subject, so I asked them one last question.

4. Why would certain people still hesitate to buy your rocks?

  • A woman who’s leaving the store, holding bags in both hands, would have trouble bringing one or more rocks to her campsite (especially those from the “hold down” category). A simple solution would be to offer a delivery service, especially because they already had all the required equipment at their disposal (a bike with a basket).
  • Considering that they had used water colors to paint the rocks, concern about their products’ durability was quite justified. They could offer a warranty that was valid as long as both the customer and the seller were in the campground at the same time.


The kids found this game of ours quite fun, so they agreed we could make a few more decisions and changes to their approach:

  • They should display their products by type: “to hold things down,” “construction material,” “handicrafts with a sentimental value,” and so on. This clearly communicates the products’ purpose and usefulness.
  • They should adapt a few products from the new line to the needs of potential customers. Lionel Messi (which was an excellent motif in my opinion, which is why it sold: to me) should be replaced with a more current and local motif. Considering that we were at the halfway point of the UEFA European Championship and that the campground was located in Croatia, the sign “10 Modrić” would be a better motif for anyone buying a souvenir from Croatia. Or Ronaldo, who can be placed on the table covered with a tablecloth, while watching him play on TV.
  • They should offer free delivery to every customer (available up to the end of their vacation).


This wrapped up my first day of consulting services. If I had continued to pester them with questions, such as how they could improve their promotion, who their competition was, what their advantages were, if their prices were appropriate, how they could use their references, and so on, this would have been way too much for a Sunday afternoon.

Even though it was only the beginning of the week, the weekend was fast approaching, and the kids were empowered and motivated. I’m very eager to see if they will in fact introduce all of the changes suggested and if a new, more systematic approach will also help them sell the rocks.


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P. S. If you’d like to know if we managed to increase our sales or you’d like one of these ABC-manuals for yourself, let me know. I’ll be happy to share our sales results with you or help you in any other way.