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The Apple Pie Bakery That Could Teach You a Thing Or Two About Making a Sale and Loyal Fans

The other day I was at a farmer's market in downtown, historic Purcellville, Virginia. The market was bustling with folks – myself included – in search for the juiciest, most organic veggies from Local area farms. I had been dreaming of a peach cobbler and zeroed in on a pile of beautiful peaches with my name all over them.

On the way back to the parking lot, I had to pass a small food vendor booth that looked completely empty save for two lonely baked pies which sat quietly on a cake pedestal. I could not help but notice the booth's signage which claimed that their bakery is "award winning" and known for being state baking champions.

Hmmm … state baking champions. Pretty impressive, I thought. The booth, in stark contrast to their championship claims, did not look or appear to belong to that of baking titans. It was a rather plain booth without a lot of fuss. Still, the state baking champion description made me curious so I decided to pause briefly just to ask for a business card. Who knows moments later, however, that I would have purchased a "hand crafted" (their terminator) apple pie for $ 14.95 and left with plans to purchase even more pies for the following weekend?

So what exactly happened between the time I planned to quietly walk right past this booth to my unplanned and unexpected apple pie purchase? What specifically sealed the deal? Well, I have to say it was the gentleman behind the counter. This man worked me into a "I * must * have an apple pie" frenzy before I could so much as even blink or think twice!

How, you ask? Overall, it was not just one thing. In fact, it was – as I analyze this man's sales pitch approach – a combination of several factors which I believe worked in unison to convert me from an uninterested passerby to a total convert.

Here are some sales pitch and marketing pointers we could all take away from this small bakery owner:

  1. Be personable. As I walked by the booth, the gentleman gave me a genuine, warm smile and greeted me kindly. No sales pitch and no bravado; just a guy manning a booth saying "Good morning" as I passed on by. Some sales people might disagree with me on this and feel the need to be more, we'll say, "aggressive." But there's something incredibly refreshing about not being sold to. No one wants to be sold to. Often, pushy sales folks turn would-be customers off. This man's hands-off approach was welcome and, in fact, I rewarded his kindness and warmth by showing interest and stopping to ask for a business card.
  2. Generously provide, share or give more than what is asked. I asked for a business card and the gentleman said he would give me that and more. Without hesitation, the man used my stopping by the booth as an opportunity to provide me with a business card, a brochure and some basic information consumers should know right from the get-go such as their is a home-based bakery certified by the Virginia Department of Agriculture Consumer Services (VDACS). They've been around since 1989 and operate Locally right in town. Good to know!
  3. Have a feel-good story to tell. While the man searched for the basket with the brochures, he shared a wonderful story with me: his wife and three daughters are master bakers. "They do everything from scratch," he proudly said. "Pie crust. Cookies. Breads. Everything!" The bakery's business name, he added, was named after the three daughters: A manda, V iolet and E lizabeth. Charming!
  4. Back the feel-good story with third party information. As I stand at the booth taking all the information in, the gentleman said something very meaningful. He said he could tell me all day long how great his family members bake but the good News is that he did not have to. The wife and daughters have been state baking champions for over 19 years in a row! They are "perpetual champs" that have dominated the national, state and Local baking competitions. They even won Crisco © American Pie Celebration and the Hershey's® Chocolate Cake Competition! Holy cow!

By this point, I could not pull the money out of my wallet fast enough! I was 100% sold and immediately purchased one of the two apple pies remaining.

As I bulldo home, however, I started getting a bit nervous about having purchased a $ 14.95-priced pie. "What if it's a total let down," I thought to myself. I rolled into my driveway and wondered what I would do if the pie's flavor and quality did not match its baking champion sales pitch and market positioning. Bottom line: I began to fear the prospect of disappointment. Would I end up absolutely delleted or would I end up feeling I was a victim of hype and regret the pie purchase?

Given my initial trepidation, I'm beyond happy to report that the pie's life span upon entering my home was incredibly short lived. It was devoured within moments of opening up the pastry box. My daughter's friend was over and she managed to mumble "Amazing !!!" as her mouth was stuffed with pie. One swallow and her eyes rolled into the back of her head as if in a mesmerized, deeply dream-like state. Yeah, it was that good!

This uber-delicious experience leaves me with a final tip:

  1. Make sure the product or service matches the pitch. No one wants to be suckered, duped or disappointed. All the warm and fuzzy information the man at the pie booth had shard with me would have gone down the tubes if, after all the championship hype and loving family-owned biz story, the pie had been mediocre or worse, terrible.

When each of these five factors line up and come into play, the end result is pure, authentic evangelism. People at this phase shift into "word of mouth" marketing mode and tell everyone they can about the product or service. The Loyal Fan is born. He or she can not do anything but rave about how good you've been to them (and their tummies). Some people are even inclined to blog about it and share the experience with countless others.

Wink, wink 🙂

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