You’re at an excellent vendor affair. There are tons of customers in your target market. It was well advertised…but you’re not selling anything? You could be making some serious vending mistakes without realizing it.

  1. Your table presentation is less-than-spectacular. If you have a lot of product for cash-and-carry, then make sure it is organized in a logical manner. Think of a grocery store and categorize your products with the same pragmatism. Make sure things aren’t on top of one another and people don’t have to go digging through piles of stuff. Use height to display in a small space. Make it easy for customers to pick up your products and interact with them, as if they were in a brick-and-mortar store. If you don’t have lots of products for cash-and-carry, then make sure you have samples of everything you’re selling. People who are at vendor events truly prefer to be able to grab and buy at the moment, so catalog or internet sales at events are not ideal. Try to build up your inventory before you spend money on booking events.
  2. You’re giving off an unfriendly vibe. Vendor events can be very long, especially to spend so many hours on your feet, but when you sit and hide behind your table, you seem disengaged with your customers. People who come to these events want the personal touch, or they would just be shopping online or in a department store. All you have to do is stand up and say hello, ask if they need help, or to let them know you’re there if they have any questions. Most importantly – smile and say hello! Even if people aren’t customers today, they will remember how you behave for the future.
  3. You’re talking about your most “popular” products. Unless someone specifically asks what your best-selling products are, people want to feel like what they choose is unique. Instead, if you notice someone looking at something, share an anecdote about the product. Or you can ask if they had an idea in mind so you can guide them to the perfect product they were looking for. They want their needs filled, not the general populous.
  4. You’re on your phone way too much. It’s normal to spend empty time perusing through Facebook or checking your email, but if you see customers nearby, put down your phone and give eye contact with a smile. People lost in their phones give the perception of being disengaged, even if that’s not necessarily true.
  5. You’re over-selling. People want to be heard. Instead of trying to sell your product, ask questions about what the customer wants to buy. Ask about their interests, needs, even give a genuine compliment. You don’t need to start going off about the history of your company or why people should buy from you – pay more attention, listen more, and you will sell more.
  6. You’re using your vending table as a lunch table. Sometimes this is hard to avoid, especially if you are vending long hours or alone. If possible, bring a second person with you so you can take lunch “shifts.” If that’s not possible, pack a cooler and keep your food off the table and inside the cooler. When there are no customers around, grab a bite of your sandwich. Customers will feel funny interrupting you while you’re eating, so keep them comfortable by keeping the food out of sight.
  7. You’re not dressed to sell. Ideally, you’ll be wearing something with your company logo. If you don’t have something like that, or your product/service doesn’t work that way, then dress business casual. Presentation matters because it demonstrates that you are a professional and care about what you’re doing.
  8. You’re making the purchase process too difficult. This is the age of digital money. You absolutely need to accept credit cards! It’s so easy to sign up for Square and offer credit card services for anything you’re selling. Square offers free/low-cost credit card processors that you can plug into your smartphone with very low processing fees! If you’re using paper receipts, make the order form/receipt super-easy to write out. You could even pre-print them at home so all you have to do is quickly fill in the items. Be sure to also have plenty of small bills to make change and bags for customers to carry their purchases!
  9. You’re not responding to negativity with positivity. We all encounter those customers who have something grumpy or rude to say. Do not take this personally! Instead, use some verbal judo with: “I’m so sorry you feel our products are too expensive, perhaps you could let me explain how we price our products?” “I understand you believe you could find this item in a different place, but perhaps you could let me explain what our small business does to support the local economy?” This is hard and it takes practice, but if you could engage in mental-mindfulness, you can realize customers are just expressing a deeper frustration that you can flip into something positive.
  10. You’re not creating a long-standing relationship. This begins with having literature and a clear way to contact you. You can use brochures and business cards that offer your website, email, and phone number – all of this contact information builds trust which builds a customer base for future orders.

Do you have any other suggestions for vending success?

Kristen Fusaro-Pizzo
President
Vine Vendor Network

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5 thoughts on “The Top 10 Mistakes You’re Making While Vending

  1. These are great! I have two to add: You are sitting the entire time. Yes, standing is tiring but standing shows you are engaged and you aren’t being hidden by a table/products/etc. I sit in-between customers. Also, not bring enough small bills in your start up bank especially if you sell smaller items. You never want to miss a sale because you can’t break a large bill.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love tip #9. I feel like framing negative comments like the ones you mention positively not only helps your customers understand where you’re coming from, but also helps shape your own frame of mind! Thanks so much for sharing this great list.

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  3. I love this, Kristen! One more tip that I absolutely think makes a difference is color. Color of the tablecloth you choose or display pieces can really draw attention to what you are selling and lead someone over to your booth or table. 😉

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