(Kadamba Kanana Swami, September 2017, Cape Town, South Africa, Evening Class)
There are techniques to book distribution. Vaisesika Prabhu is not only a leading distributor in our society but Vaisesika has demystified it. Book distribution has always been sort of a mystical thing! How do you do it – is it hypnosis OR is it just being assertive OR do you sweet talk people into it, “Hi, are you from here or out of town? Well, you are the lucky one! Congratulations, only a hundred people today get a promotional copy of this book. There you go… ”
Then comes that point when you have to ask them for money, “You know, maybe you can help out a little with the printing costs. In the shop, a book like this goes for a lot more but today on the streets, we are only asking for the printing cost and whatever extra you give, it goes for the good work. You have a good heart!” All kinds of things; just trying to talk people into it.
Some people just naturally sell books but others struggle. There seemed to be some kind of mystic power that some people had whereas others did not. Of course, some people can sell anything, they are just salesmen but is that what it takes?
Anyway, Vaisesika did not just give pep talks but he started to do seminars where he explained what to do and one technique that he presented was ‘asking a question’. A question is a hook. That is one major principle he has, to keep on asking questions. Try not to tell things but ask questions. That is a good tip, it is something not all of us knew.
“Are you from Cape Town or are you from out of town?” Keep them busy. “Are you a student or are you are working? What do you do? Something academic? You look very intelligent.”
Flatter; there is no such thing as flattering too much, Vaisesika says. You think that you would have to be a little subtle about it. No. He says the more you flatter, the better.
I do not know if you can deal with all these technical things but it is very interesting. On YouTube, there are some of his seminars. He is now the international leader of book distribution who can really teach us how to do it. His approach is that we are not only trying to sell a book but we are trying to keep the relationship positive at every stage. He has definitely got it down. I am not that smooth a salesman. I am sometimes too strong, sometimes too overpowering a presence for people. Apparently. What to do? Such is life.