What A Six-Year-Old On The Subway Taught Me About Sales

sales mindset
"Customers are buying confidence. It's up to us to show it." -Mark Hunter

You might have already heard me gushing about our new kitten. If you haven’t, I’m in love with a teeny-tiny, leopard-spotted furball.

We found her on the other side of the city over the weekend, and for those of you who aren’t familiar with the subway system in Manhattan, the weekends are a bit like playing the lottery. It’s cheap, doesn’t usually get you anywhere, but you keep playing hoping you’ll win the jackpot.

Anyway, bad train analogies aside, we didn't hit the train jackpot and spent a fair amount of time navigating the underground world.

On our last leg as we backtracked toward our destination, there was a little girl who couldn’t have been more than six-years-old who schooled me in sales!

She stood up as the train started moving and announced that she was selling her artwork. Now, this isn’t particularly remarkable, there are kids selling candy and things on the subway all the time.

She proceeded to pull out her portfolio: an artfully decorated binder that was tabbed with her various priced works. This girl was organized. She explained her offers, smiled, and asked who wanted to buy from her. Then she stood there - cool and collected. She didn’t explain; she didn’t equivocate; she didn’t bargain. 

I watched in slight amazement as one person after another asked to see her artwork and procured cash that hadn't existed for the previous subway act.

One woman bought a few pieces (!), then asked the girl how much she’d sell the glittery drawing that donned the front cover of her binder.

Without missing a beat, she looked at her and said “twenty dollars.” I was floored and internally high-fiving this little girl.

Walking off the train, I turned to my guy and asked, “Did you see that?” My mind was reeling with the grace and confidence this girl exuded, and whether she realized it or not, the powerful sales mindset she was exhibiting. Judging by her wallet as she made change for someone, it was working pretty well for her.

We could all stand to take a few pointers when it comes to our mindset around sales. How many of us have the equivalent of a binder full of artwork that we’ve never shared with anyone else, let alone put a price tag on and asked others to purchase? 

The very thought of it can make some of us recoil. 

Something tells me if a six-year-old can do it on the subway, we can all do it, too. 

Here are Three Sales Mindset Pointers From our Subway Muse:

1. She believed in the value of her work and didn’t ask someone else to define it for her.

This is HUGE and probably one of the main reasons some of us aren't making the money we want.

So many of us don’t really believe in the value of our work and what we’re offering, and we look to others to define it for us. 

We want to know what other people think we’re worth and measure our work’s worth by this. While our businesses don’t live in a vacuum and we absolutely have to consider the value of our offerings, proof of concept, and what our market can bear, it’s pretty difficult to sell something at ANY price if we haven’t first owned its worth.

2. She didn’t decide what people could pay or explain her pricing.

This is a game I have definitely played in the past, maybe you know it as well? I try to guess what someone can afford and set my prices accordingly, which ends up backfiring on so many levels and doesn’t come from a place of leadership or confidence.

I’ve also been on the receiving end of someone who is explaining why something is priced the way it is, which comes across as justifying their worth, and tends to do the exact opposite. 

The truth is, sales are rarely about what someone can afford, and we don’t know someone else’s money story!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten this wrong. Much as we might like to think we’re all-knowing, psychic mind readers, we’re not (my guy will back this up). 

Watching this little girl on the train, I realized, she wasn’t worried if someone had cash on them or if they could pay for her artwork. She didn’t bargain. She didn’t make deals with anyone. She didn’t apologize for her prices. She just showed up and made her offer and left it up to each individual on the train to decide for themselves. 

When she named the price for her showcase artwork on the front of her binder, she didn’t go into a story that it was over four times the price because she had spent more time on it or used more expensive materials, she just named her price and let it hang.

Many of us can get caught in telling a story and starting a sales tap dance when we name our prices, especially if they feel high. Take a cue from the power that comes from naming your price and not saying another word. I promise people will ask questions if they want or need to.

3. She expected a sale.

After she named her price, I watched as she stood confidently and looked at all of us calmly waiting. I could tell she expected a sale. She knew someone was going to say yes, and more than one someone did.

She expected that people would like her artwork and would want to buy it. She didn’t use qualifiers like, “Well, only if you want to buy this.” 

She didn’t seem attached to the outcome, but she absolutely looked like someone who knew... someone is going to buy this, and I’m just going to stand here and wait until they do. And, they did.

Now, I can’t tell you if she was unattached to her expectation and that’s a topic for another blog, but I can tell you that she oozed calm confidence. And confidence creates. 

Here's the best part. As this girl made her way around the train selling her artwork, that same woman who bought a bundle and asked about her binder cover? I watched as she opened up her bookbag and took out a poster tube and carefully rolled her artwork up as she put it away. 

The woman caught me watching and said, “This is going to be worth something one day. I collect her work. She doesn’t know me. She never remembers me. But, I always buy her work when I can.”

Bam. Those aren’t the words of a sympathy purchase. This lady was NOT kidding. Where I saw a kid’s cute marker and glitter handiwork, this woman had bought into the value and was investing.

Over the years, as I've worked through pricing and sales, and as I’ve helped my clients with the same, I’ve come to realize how much of selling has to do with our mindset and what we believe to be true. Yes, a little strategy always helps. But, it’s the mindset underneath that really does the selling.

If a six-year-old can do it on the subway, you can do it in your business. Where might taking a cue from our six-year-old subway sales expert help you in your business?

Wishing you your version of success!

selling confidence

P.S. Ready to UPLEVEL your business and own your work's worth? I'd love to support you! Click here to learn more about how we can work together, so you can make more money doing what you love.