It all started with a pedicure.
On the beautiful island of Bali last week, we were busily enjoying the Inspired Business Bali Retreat. As busy mothers and business women, juggling all the balls, it was our chance to unwind, relax and rejuvenate in the tranquil surrounds of north-east Bali while taking time out to work on our businesses — and gave us an opportunity to do some of the self-care things we never get time to do back home. Staying at the beautiful Entrepreneur Resort’s Vision Villas near Keramas Beach, you could get everything you wanted — massage, poolside cocktails, yoga. But the lady who usually did pedicures and manicures was away that week.
My colleague and I set out to do something about our ‘winter feet’ — feet and toenails that were desperately in need of some love and attention. We hired two scooters and rode them from our hillside resort down to the beach, thinking we would easily find a nail salon down there, as you would in the touristy areas of Legian, Seminyak and Canggu.
After stopping at a tiny roadside stall to fill our scooter’s tank with petrol from an empty Bombay Sapphire gin bottle, we rode from beachside village to village, soon realising that it wasn’t at all touristy in these parts. Which was refreshing and wonderful, but not when you want to find a nail salon!
We were just about to give up when we noticed a small glass-fronted shop with a sign saying ‘Nails’ on the front.
It seemed closed (it was late in the afternoon). But as we tentatively walked up to the front door and peered inside, a friendly girl (aren’t they all friendly in Bali?) inside caught sight of us, broke into a big smile and came to open the door.
We explained that we wanted to get a pedicure each. She said we’d have to wait twenty minutes while she called in a friend to help, but she could get started on one of us straight away.
Perfect, we were happy.
Her friend arrived on her scooter within twenty minutes as promised (she travelled all the way from Ubud) and within an hour my friend and I walked away with shiny, fresh toes that were now open shoe worthy.
As often happens, the Balinese girls chatted to us in their broken English while they worked on our toes, asking us where we were staying and what we were doing. As we were finishing up, my girl handed me a card and said:
“If your friends want a manicure or pedicure, please tell them about me. I can come to your villas”.
The card that she handed to me had her name on it, Sandat, with the words “Nails & Massage”.
I said to her “Oh, you do massage too?”
It had been difficult to book a massage at our villas because there was only one girl available and available slots were limited. We hadn’t been able to have the daily massage that we’d hope for when we arrived (oh, first world problems!).
“Yes, I can do massage!” Sandat replied. “How many people need a massage? I can bring a friend.”
I told her we had five ladies at the resort who would love a massage. She gave me her WhatsApp number and we connected online straight away, with her telling me she would be at our villas the next day with her friend, ready to massage five women.
It was a win-win. She identified an opportunity to sell us something we wanted and she and her friend got the chance to earn some money that they wouldn’t have earned, had Sandat not been forward in offering her services.
It was a beautiful example of authentic, natural selling and I spent the evening marvelling at how well the Balinese do that.
One of the retreat guests mentioned to me that she hadn’t once felt harassed, or “icky” or “sold to” during our time in Bali. It feels more like the Balinese are genuinely curious about your needs and finding ways to meet them.
I’ve been to Bali many times over the decades and it’s always struck me how resourceful the Balinese people are. They have a natural entrepreneurial spirit with an ability to find ways to make money. It seems to run in their genes and as a result they ‘sell’ very authentically and naturally.
[And no, I’m not talking about the awful beach hawkers that most of know and despise! That’s the kind of selling that’s pushy and forceful and makes us want to run for the hills.]
My theory is that the Balinese know how to sell authentically because they don’t have the luxury of unemployment payments like we do and the majority of people don’t have access to quality education. They didn’t get any JobKeeper payments from their government during the tough COVID years. They all had to battle it out on their own. And it was tough.
There’s no safety net in Balinese society. If you don’t know how to make money, you don’t survive. Simple as that. And so the Balinese have become very resilient and business-savvy people as a result, always looking for opportunities to sell.
And it got me wondering — Why is it that so many of the business owners I work with in Australia struggle to “sell”?
Learning to sell is the most critical skill you need to learn when starting and growing your own business. But inevitably all clients I work with say:
“I don’t want to be salesy or pushy”.
And I get it, because that’s how I felt in the beginning too. I’d come from a corporate consulting engineering environment in which ‘selling’ was not a skill I had to develop in the true sense.
In our culture we haven’t grown up with many positive role models for natural and authentic selling. Most of us associate selling with the uncomfortable experiences of door knockers trying to sell us things we don’t need. As Seth Godin said:
“We don’t mind being sold to, we just hate being sold to poorly.”
So how do you sell authentically and naturally?
Selling feels authentic and natural when you have the intention to serve, not sell. It’s motivated by an underlying desire to genuinely help someone to solve a problem they have. Or to add value to their situation in a way that makes their life easier. The solution you offer is truly valuable. It’s about focusing on building relationships and creating value, rather than simply trying to close deals to meet sales targets.
Which is exactly what the Balinese do without even trying.
And I believe we can learn a lot from them.
In service to your success,
Kate De Jong
Helping Startups and Small Businesses Succeed
+61 424 176 658
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