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The Del Boy guide to spotting sales opportunities


written by Chris Bourne

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Whether you’re a fan or not, Only Fools and Horses has given us a great character in Del Boy. The dodgy dealing wide boy from Peckham is a lovable yet sneaky character who saw the sales opportunity in everything from his humble headquarters in Nelson Mandela house.

Derek Trotter wasn’t the smartest man in the world (or even Peckham, for that matter) but his endeavoring sales tactics, blind entrepreneurial spirit and admirable ‘never say die’ attitude have had a profound effect on business people in the UK and much further afield.

So, how did he do become so endearing and, comedy aside, what can you learn from him? Other than fluent French, there are a few tricks we can all pick up from Del Boy. Mangetout Rodney, you know it makes sense!

Del Boy wasn’t afraid to fail
There’s a culture in sales in which you’re looked upon unfavorably if you fail, but Del Boy has had more downs than ups and still ended up a millionaire (we’ll skip over the part when he lost it all though).

The reason for this (despite his incredible luck with finding a rather rare pocket watch) is that he’s not afraid to dust himself off and go again.

Don’t forget that behind every successful person lies a string of previous failures.

If you’ve had a bad month, don’t beat yourself up and start doubting yourself. Instead, work out why it wasn’t a good month, what was out of your control and what wasn’t.

Then, being more honest than you’ve ever been with yourself before, write down the things you could’ve done better, and make sure you do them next month.

Del Boy was always an optimist

“Just you wait Rodney, this time next year we’ll be millionaires!” was a common phrase used by Del Boy and just goes to prove that he was ever hopeful and had unstoppable enthusiasm.

In the world of sales, you need to visualize your goals and never give up until you achieve them.

Del Boy had a large network

From Monkey Harris to Trigger, Denzil to Boycey, Del Boy has his fair share of contacts to call upon to help his efforts, and despite it always being the same old same old with him, they’d always help him out.

By building trusted relationships, Del Boy managed to dip his toe into many different markets and seize upon any opportunity, valid or not, that he thought he’d spotted.

A great way to increase your network is to reach out to business people similar to yourself who have a slightly different offering.

Del Boy was creative

When Del Boy’s sales were in a slump, he’d always find a way around it with his creativity.

When there’s a riot, he sells them ski gear. Chandelier need cleaning? Not a problem.

Del Boy’s ability to fill a gap in the market and see the opportunity in almost any situation provided him an edge over his competitors and gave him ‘a nice little earner’ from many a venture.

When selling, think outside the box. Don’t just go to and from work each day, only focused on your targets; think about how your customer’s businesses work, their challenges and if there are any other opportunities your company are missing out on.

Just because you’re employed by someone else doesn’t mean you should let your entrepreneurial spirit go to waste.

Del Boy was real

Yes, Del Boy could be a bit ostentatious at times, but underneath his front was a genuine person who was trying to succeed.

The Del Boy everyone loved was a genuine guy and not a ruthless, self-serving, egomaniac (like the somewhat berated Boycey).

The same goes for your customers; they prefer to speak to a real person rather than one that’s faker than Kim Kardashian’s rear end.

It’s easy to forget this, though, when you’re sat in a highly competitive office environment surrounded by peers who want to beat your sales number this month.

Just remember to keep it real when you’re talking with customers and they’ll always have respect for you, no matter what.

Del Boy knew his products

The reason Del Boy could come up with product benefits on the spot was because he understood every product he sold inside out.

What’s more, no matter whether it was a dodgy ex-military Russian camcorder or Peckham Spring water, he infectiously believed in his product.

Realizing the many reasons, not just the obvious ones, why people buy and use your products is key to further selling success.

So, there you have it. To sell like Del Boy, take a leaf out of his book and don’t be a 42 carat plonker when it comes to your next sale. What are your favorite Del Boy moments? Have you ever tried Del Boy’s tactics to aid your selling? I’d love to hear in the comments below.




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Written By -

I'm the Marketing Manager here at sales-i and being in marketing I obviously love crayons and of course I have a toy Chewbacca on my desk (fully equipped with the 'Maaaaaarh' noise! I have worked in the technology industry for over 7 years and have a good grasp on what's happening in the industry. I also enjoy* the technical side of software development. *The term 'enjoy' relates to the very few occasions where the techy side actually goes to plan, otherwise replace with the term 'gets frustrated'.

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