Italian Persuasion and
Sales Secrets...

By Yanik Silver

During a recent vacation to Italy I've been watching, listening and observing how the Italians persuade, influence and make the sale. It's fascinating and extremely profitable to study.

First, as tourists we are influenced by recommendations by someone we perceive as an authority. For starters there's our guide book. All the major guide books will give you sleeping recommendations and dining spots. 

My wife, Missy, and I brought along 2 books. 

The Rick Steves guide to Italy and also Frommers. So if Rick or Frommers says go to this restaurant we're more likely to go there. Or by asking the front desk or concierge for a recommendation we'll take it.

Next, let's talk about shopping. Many of the sales people I've encountered who work retail have a very understated yet effective way of making the sale. In Florence, we went to many of the high-end Italian shops. Inside the Armani store I was looking for a new sport coat. I found a wonderful jacket that I wanted to try on. 

The problem was I was wearing a polo shirt and that's a bit thicker than a regular dress shirt so the jacket wouldn't fit right. So my sales guy gave me a new Armani shirt to try on underneath my jacket. He quickly took a look at me and brought back the exact right size. 

The gentleman then brought me 5 different jackets to try on but none of them worked. However, all was not lost since after trying on the jackets I fell in love with "my" Armani shirt. 

Yep, I ended up buying it even though it was way overpriced. 

A few steps away down Florence's "5th Ave" we walked into Gucci. There were lots of items in there with the famous "G"'s that we don't have over here in the States. I immediately sprinted over to a burgundy Gucci motorcycle helmet and stuck it on my head to continue the tradition of being an obnoxious American. :)

After making a fool out of myself, I wandered up into Men's shoes and found a pair of loafers I loved I asked the girl working in shoes to help me find my size and she brought them out for me to try on. Then she did something I've never seen before at retail...she kept absolutely silent. 

Missy and I talked about the shoes and if I should get them or not. We discussed the comfort of them and if they were slipping or not. But during all of this - the  sales girl remained quiet. 

From negotiations we know silence is the most powerful tactic any side can take. Usually the sales rep is telling me how great the shoes look, how carefully they are constructed, etc. But here absolutely nothing but silence. I'm sure you can guess - I bought the shoes.

Now if you think I'm the only one who was shopping - think again. Missy did her fair share in Venice.

Since it got a bit colder, Missy went looking for warmer clothes. We went in and out of boutiques all day and even returned to the same ones 2 or 3 times. Once Missy found a sweater to try on and before she could leave the dressing room, the sales rep came bounding in with 2 or 3 more colors in the same model. 

In another boutique, Missy would be trying on one top and the sales rep would have the other colors lined up for her on the counter and several other outfits that matched her choice. It was pretty amazing to see them in action. Of course, she ended up buying more than she originally came in for.

Another thing we saw at retail shops was the packaging. For many of the items we bought they immediately wrapped them up so they would be suitable for a present. We even went to a Pharmacy to buy Advil because my back was hurting and the pharmacist wrapped that up like a present.

What else do you do on vacation besides shopping? How about eating? 

Italian waiters do a masterful job at selling and persuading patrons that's really worth studying. One of my favorite meals in Florence the waiter used the assumptive close to take our order. I asked for a recommendation on appetizers and he would mention the mushroom and tomato dish was excellent. 

Then he'd start writing and talking at the same time, "one mushroom and one tomato for the lady." 

He went on like that with the pastas and entrees assuming we'd have 2 of everything. He was wrong but I'm sure they do a whole lot more business like this. After the meal the show continued. When explaining dessert he said, "We have the World's best cheesecake and Europe's number one chocolate cake."

Who gave them that honor? I'm sure no one. They just said it. We did split the cheesecake and it really was delicious. It tasted a bit like 'no bake' cheesecake - but Missy and I both love no-bake cheesecake at home so we're biased.

In Venice it's the experience usually and not the food that takes center stage. In Saint Mark's square we sat down and had a glass of wine, a coffee and a water. The bill? A jaw-dropping $45. We were charged for music and bread/cover charge plus the outrageous amount for our 3 beverages. But it's okay because it was an experience we were paying for and not the drinks. 

This restaurant has a complete band outside playing classical Italian music and the whole experience of sitting in the center of the Square to watch the people mill about was worth it. But it just goes to show you if you create an experience you can get away with highway robbery. 

And what is the most famous experience in Venice? Gondolas, right? There's no better example of paying for an experience because where would you pay about $150 for a over glorified canoe? 

Now I'm not complaining because the gondola ride is a must for many tourists. And Missy and I loved it - but when you stop to think about it you wouldn't pay for this anywhere else. 

Now before you dismiss all of this and say "My business is Different!" - just stop, re-read and think about how you can apply this in your business. I promise you can. 

Ciao! :)

(c) Surefire Marketing, Inc. 

Yanik Silver is recognized as the leading expert on creating automatic, moneymaking websites...and he still doesn't know how to put up a website. 

He is the author, co-author or creator of several best-selling online marketing books and tools, which can be found at