What is Selling?

During our recent visit to the Jagalchi Fish Market in Busan, South Korea, my partners and I from Mansmith and Fielders Inc. encountered a remarkable stall, manned by a vibrant and friendly 30-year-old man (let’s call him Mr. H). Let me share the story of how he showcased exceptional selling skills that set him apart from other stall owners.

As we entered the market, the first stall we encountered was run by an older person who didn’t speak English. However, across from them was Mr. H’s stall, where he warmly greeted us and took the initiative to introduce the market. Confidently, he stated, “We all sell the same products and at the same price, but I give better service and speak English,” instantly positioning himself as the go-to person for assistance during our visit.  While some customers might perceive non-English speaking, older stall owners as more authentic in terms of cooking styles and flavors, we were pretty sure the food we were about to eat would taste good, because of the freshness expected from the direct source.  And everything else being equal (especially the source), the personal service experience will definitely be the differentiator.

Mr. H impressively presented a comprehensive price list, took the time to explain each product’s pricing and even offered cooking recommendations for the seafood items. His engaging descriptions made us envision savoring the delicious seafood. As we decided to purchase from him, he went above and beyond by adding extra shell products to our order while chatting with us. When I mentioned wanting them prepared as soup, he suggested steaming instead, and to our delight, offered free soup with seaweed for all of us. 

While waiting for our order, I explored the market and noticed that most stalls indeed sold similar products. However, they mainly communicated in Korean, validating Mr. H’s differentiation through English proficiency. Notably, unlike other stalls that indicated “market price” for  the king crab, implying negotiable prices, Mr. H’s stall displayed a specific price for the day, instilling trust between him and customers. With such evident advantages, there was no need for me to inquire about other stall owners’ prices for the same product.

Mr. H’s trustworthy demeanor continued as he personally retrieved the king crab from a large aquarium, making eye contact and assuring us, “Trust me,” while pointing at the published price. I also noticed a Junior Chamber International (JCI) member plaque displayed at his stall, and when I mentioned my son’s affiliation with JCI Manila, we shared a fist bump, solidifying our bond of trust.

Analyzing the remarkable selling techniques Mr. H employed, I took note of the following key elements:

  1. Friendly and fun demeanor
  2. Proactive and warm greetings
  3. Genuine smile and high energy
  4. Clear differentiation through excellent service and English language proficiency
  5. Use of a printed price list, avoiding ambiguous “market price” labels to enhance trust
  6. Engaging customers by describing cooking methods and products
  7. Generosity by adding extra shell products to create goodwill
  8. Offer of complimentary soup to allow us to try his recommended steamed shell products
  9. Use of hands-on demonstrations, like pulling out the King Crab, to showcase his products
  10. Effective use of eye contact during conversations
  11. Verbal reassurance with the phrase, “Trust me”
  12. Display of JCI membership plaque as a sign of good citizenship (and youth)
  13. Enthusiastic engagement when discovering mutual connections like the JCI membership.
  14. Willingness to take photos for us

In addition, I took note of Mr. H’s effective marketing mix:

  • Product: Although the products were similar, his exceptional service and communication set him apart.
  • Price: Fixed prices were displayed for selected items, instilling transparency and trust.
  • Place: His strategic location near the gate provided him with increased visibility.
  • Promotions: Mr. H effectively engaged with customers face-to-face, offered additional shell products, and provided complimentary soup, enhancing the overall customer experience.
  • Positioning: He positioned himself as the English-speaking stall owner, excelling in customer service.

Reflecting on this experience, I concluded that selling is indeed the art of influencing prospects to make a purchase without any feelings of regret. I believe my definition resonates with the exceptional selling skills demonstrated by Mr. H. Would you agree with this perspective?”


The 3rd Mansmith Sales Summit is scheduled for August 15, 2023 with the theme “Data, Delivery, Discovery”. Discounted team registration can be availed at www.salessummit.com.ph


Josiah Go is the chair and chief innovation strategist of Mansmith and Fielders Inc. 

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