Selling like an Arab – More than a bazaar technique!

Arabs are known to be very successful business men. What can we learn from their sales behavior? Primarily, they build on friendship and relationships. Let’s find out more about what it means to sell like an Arab.

The sales tactics used by Arabs can be experienced firsthand by anyone who has bought carpets from a shop in the Middle East. The Arab sellers use a sales sequence – spotting the buying signals, closing tactics, and so on, that have been perfect over a thousand years.

Indeed, the same methods that have always been used by Arab traders to make a sale in 12th century are still in force today. The reason these methods are still used is because they work, and brilliantly, at that.

Many tourists see Arab selling tactics the moment they land at an airport in Morocco or Tunisia, as they are they have young Arab men in the vicinity shouting the names of “best” hotels.

And then foreign tourists are accosted by extremely polite young Arab men, offering to be their guides, for absolutely free, of course, just because they “love showing people around their city...”

This is low cost advertising and marketing at its best, as hiring these young men is cheap and often effective, because as “free” guides, they lead the foreign guests to a shop – a carpet shop – as in our example.

Where human resources are cheap, populations are high and there is an army of young men looking for work, such as in underdeveloped nations, such marketing techniques work very well indeed. They work in, say, India or South Africa, just as well as they do in the Middle East. In fact, using cheap labor from emerging countries for internet marketing and telemarketing is as old as the internet itself.

Once the foreign tourists are led to the carpet shop, the carpet seller enquires politely about if they would like to see his carpets. Even if the foreign tourists decline to do so, the shopkeeper doesn’t stop being polite. He sends them on their way to the town market, gives them directions to the best gift shops and more.

That’s where the fun begins, as the carpet owner will have a referrer or an associate in the other shops as well. This referrer will treat the tourists to a tea and talk about the great carpets he bought from the seller across the street – the one the tourists met moments ago.

Soon, the carpet seller will join too. He now has a captive audience as the tourists have just had tea at her referrer’s shop and are obligated to at least give him a listen. The carpet seller politely talks about his carpets, their design and the work that has gone into them, while saying all the while that the tourists are under no obligation to buy from him.

He uses visualization techniques to get the tourists to imagine how great his carpets would look in their living room back home in London or Paris. The carpet seller uses the most flowery language with a lot of imagery. It’s hard for the tourist to say no to someone as polite as him.

He shows the tourists various carpets, quickly estimating their financial position by studying them and doing some hard guesswork, and sells them carpets that are within their budgets. And then, he moves for the kill – a compelling call-to-action, to which the tourist simply cannot say no.

His call-to-action offers the tourists value – the carpet; benefits – as in how great the carpets would look in their living room; and finally price – a compelling one, one which is easily affordable.

The carpet seller is prepared to be patient and does not get upset if the tourist starts bargaining over the price. He doesn’t mind bargaining at all, and is ever willing to cut down his price, as long as it is reasonable. Whatever happens, he succeeds in closing the sale.

The sales tactics used by the carpet seller have been passed on from generation to generation of merchants in the Middle East, and it is something that never fails. Can you try selling like an Arab? Do you think this is something you could make use of at work? Do let us know what you think!