Smile & Test Your Way To Market Stall Success

For those of you who are about to enter the business of market stall selling, the first lesson is unforgiving. Through trial and error, you’ll soon realise a simple fact – it’s not about what you sell, but how are you selling it.

Even if you manage, hypothetically, to display an anti-aging pill, nobody will stop to buy if your approach, message, and selling techniques are not in sync. The items that you sell are of secondary importance. The sooner you realise that, the more people will convert into customers, and the better off you’ll be.

Find this hard to believe? Well, to our mutual amusement, there was a 90-something old grandpa who sold potato peelers on the streets of NYC, making just over a million in profit. Now let’s optimise your market stall selling techniques, so you can make a comfortable living out of this, and then some.

Market stall optimisation

Here, I’m slightly tempted to quote Alec Baldwin’s character in Glengarry Glen Ross. Know what his evergreen message for successful selling was? Always Be Testing!

Because here is the harsh truth that none of us wants to grasp fully. Testing means that some of your initial assumptions will fail, and you’ll have to come up with a steady stream of new routines and selling techniques in order to see results.

And this process is hard work.

Imagine how much more profitable you’ll be, if the same number of customers stop by your stall, but instead of 10% conversion, you manage to get 13-20 percent. This would easily double your profit, considering the same exact location, while selling the same exact product.

Most of us are irrationally fearful when it comes to testing new assumptions, but being prepared to fail today, means setting yourself up for success tomorrow.

Smile your way to more market stall sales

Many websites go through scores of A/B testing, only to find a single and repeatedly correct hypothesis – smiling matters!

Unable to interpret people we are unfamiliar with, our brain has learned to process a lot of information by simply observing facial gestures. Smiling, as research concludes, always comes on top for concepts like trustworthiness, friendliness, compassion, affection… It triggers mechanisms in our brain, which consequently lower our defense mechanisms, and we are more likely to be asked out on a date, agree with something, and guess what – be more acceptable to a sales pitch.

It’s not a coincidence that websites where there is a person smiling as you land on the page, often convert up to 200% more customers.

Practice your smile, for it will take you a lot further in being able to quickly establish trust and cultivate a friendly relationship. People will react better, and you will see more sales.

Getting sales at your market stall means refining your attitude

Always friendly, and always smiling. Even if you encounter a rude and disrespectful customer, you can change the dynamic by leading with example. Tough situations present the best opportunity for practice.

And it’s not only about putting on a smile. You’ll have to greet people, say a friendly farewell, even if they decide not to buy from you.

As websites and large stores have customers coming back after a couple of days to complete a purchase, you can influence people the first time they pass by your market stall, so they are more likely to buy from you even after a week or two later.

You never know whether a customer is shopping, or simply taking a look. Walking the extra mile even with those who are not showing clear purchase intent, will often times persuade them to buy from you in the future… Remember to never hang your hat!

Handling customers at your market stall

Different types of products and different types of customers react differently to demand, urgency and scarcity. But let’s simplify this with a translation.

The number of people standing by your market stall can have a huge impact on how customers perceive you. In some cases, people react positively when there are dozens of customers around your stall, asking questions and interacting. In others, when people see a crowd they usually walk by.

Depending on what you sell, and whom you are selling it to, you will have to figure this out by yourself.

Therefore, if continuous testing shows that your crowded stall translates into messages of urgency and scarcity, and people tend to buy even more, then by all means keep more people interacting with your stall. Tell a story; come up with a longer sales pitch, capture attention…

If however, people are repelled by a crowd, then cut your sales pitch short, and find a way to stay super polite, while completing each transaction faster.

At first, manipulating the flow of people around your market stall may very well seem like an exercise in frustration, but over time you’ll become far more confident and have a larger arsenal of techniques in order to lengthen or shorten the interaction.

Lowering the price – yes or no?

This is the only method that doesn’t take herculean effort. But beware. Price cuts can often send a wrong message. You don’t want to look desperate, and certainly don’t want to minimize your profit, thanks to manufactured emergency to sell more.

Make the calculus and decide comfortably.

The most important thing of running a market stall, or any business in fact, is to analyze each and every move. So keep a journal for your selling techniques, and know for sure what works and what doesn’t.

If there is a symptomatic curve when you lower the price, then find out what is the best time of day, and by how much. Statistics can tell you a lot more than intuition can!

Additionally, try keeping the same price tag, but offer different bundles, combining products that don’t sell, with products that tend to sell better. You’ll incentivize customers and increase the perceived value of your offer.


Folding up this letter, the most important message remains to smile, test, and test often. The successful market stall sales pitch is refined over lots and lots of trial and error. If you learn how to let go of initial assumptions and adapt to the market, you will start increasing your profit slowly but considerably.