Adventures in Sales {and a Clam Recipe}

This week I attended a sales course during the evenings. It was the best course I’ve been to in a long time,.. years, maybe even in a decade or two. Gasp! Maybe it’s the best course I’ve ever been to in my life. Maybe I should copy-paste what I just wrote into an email and send it to the teacher for his satisfaction.

Details of the course are below.

On the last day, we were sent out to the streets to sell a few objects: one small packet of balsamic tissues, one Marlboro cigarette and one extremely ugly bracelet. Now this was tough. Imagine: approaching strangers to sell something completely out of the blue, not in the adequate shop for the item, not in any shop at all. That was quite an experience. Yes it was tough, but I ended up happy with a bit of an adrenaline rush.

How did I fare?

Balsamic tissues: my target was a lady standing in front of a restaurant. The pharmaceutical part of me just outright asked her if she usually suffers from hay fever. The answer was yes. Fabulous. Would she like to buy a packet of tissues to put in her bag just in case she gets a bout of hay fever?

At that moment her husband appeared, looking all menacing to me. His body language showed that he thought I was bothering her. There I was in my high heel boots, immaculate clothes, hair and make up, trying to sell one packet of tissues in the street. They then realised that it was a confusing situation. But insisted that I would not be selling them any tissues, thank you, definitely not. Ok, then I told them it was part of a sales course and so we all had a bit of a laugh.

Marlboro cigarette: I approached two guys who were smoking and said hi. They were smoking for goodness sake, so my strategies of what to say went down the drain. Instant improvisation needed to be done.

I said that it’s obvious that they smoke, and despite the fact that they probably have more cigarettes on them, I have one cigarette, I don’t smoke myself, so I am offering it to them to buy it. Completely stupid line, I know.

Somehow, not only did I sell it, I auctioned it to them for nearly 3 times it’s price.

Extremely ugly bracelet: I bumped into two of the guys doing the course with me so we decided that we would try and sell our three ugly bracelets together. Each had a different design. We stopped two ladies walking past and declared that we were opening a jewellery shop. Would they kindly have a look at the pieces for their opinion?

They kindly did so, and their expressions showed that they thought the pieces were ugly. So they guys announced that I, who am from Singapore and am a highly distinguished jewellery designer in Asia, designed the pieces and we wanted to see the acceptance with the Spanish ladies.

Here I took the cue. I spoke in English, in a very posh and exquisite manner. I declared that they are pure silver. Each and every piece I design holds a special meaning. That one (I pointed to one) was inspired by the waves of the ocean, my love of the sea.

Their faces changed and they suddenly seemed charmed by the bracelet!

That one (I pointed to another one) was inspired by the beautiful flowers that bloom in nature. There is nothing more magical than the opening of the flowers in spring.

They picked up the bracelets and inspected them in awe.

The third bracelet was more difficult. I was going to say that I was inspired by the free love that bloomed in the 60’s. Luckily then they interrupted saying that they really need to rush because they are going to see a play in the theatre. However, the bracelets are so lovely, so could they please give them a card with the name of a website where they could perhaps be bought. They wanted to choose from the other designs. So we gave them a card (each bracelet came with a card) and thanked them for their time.

The bracelet situation actually proved just how important the presentation can be, not just the product or service itself.

Cooking clams

Once in a while I like making clams steamed in white wine, to have as a starter before a relaxed lunch in the weekends.



1 clove garlic

Fresh parsley

1/4 cup white wine

Olive oil


White pepper


Clean the clams by putting them in warm water with a few large tablespoons of salt. Leave for at least 10 minutes. This should make the clams expulse any sand they have inside.

Chop the garlic and parsley. Heat a few drops of olive oil in a pot or clay dish. Cook the garlic. Add the clams, parsley, white wine, white pepper. Add salt and some water if needed. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the clams are all opened and well steamed.

Drizzle with some lemon.

Clams with garlic, parsley and lemon

Have a great weekend!

Sales course details: Lean Sales // Contact details found here. Classes may also be imparted in English.

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  1. Saskia (1=2) 2014-03-15 at 04:37

    Holy moly Sofia, you are SO brave, and an excellent improviser. I reckon acting might be another possible career option for you. Extremely intrigued to know what those bracelets looked like.

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-03-15 at 16:06

      I have to admit that when they said I was a well renowned designer I had to hold my breath for a few seconds because I was about to burst out laughing. But then I thought, right, I’m a well renowned designer from Singapore, so act like one!! 🙂
      I should have made a photo of the bracelets!

  2. Dalo 2013 2014-03-15 at 05:28

    What an interesting experience, must have been kind of fun to take on such a project as to selling those things on the street…although I don’t think I could have done it. And I can tell this course has helped, as your presentation of the clams is wonderful. 🙂

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-03-15 at 16:09

      You’d be surprised, when the tissues, cigarettes and bracelets where handed out, I’m sure everyone in the course (me too) thought: you gotta be kidding, I can’t do this. I’m sure you’d do really well and think up funny things to say to people.
      Ah, presentation (also of the bracelets) is due to my marketing side 🙂

  3. Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward 2014-03-15 at 15:41

    I agree – you are brave, smart and think on your feet. You continue to challenge yourself and impress. As for the recipe – YES. Simple and elegant; fantastic flavors that marry well. Beautiful dish!

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-03-15 at 16:13

      Well, we all challenge ourselves, right 🙂 Its fun and sometimes a part of survival… Oh I’m glad you like the clams, yes the flavours do marry very well. xx

  4. Guillermina Bósquez Stover 2014-03-15 at 15:46

    Wow! And you look so meek and dainty!!! I would have loved to be a fly on the wall for the 3 sales pitches…

  5. Sunny 2014-03-15 at 17:12

    What an experience! I would basically absolutely DIE if I were asked to approach strangers. OK I can probably do it, but the thought is a little daunting! I agree with how important presentation is though. There probably is always an angle you can work with 😉

    The clams look delicious! I don’t remember seeing a lot of them here, but back home these are a bit everywhere!

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-03-16 at 00:16

      Well maybe a week ago I thought I would die too if I had to do that, but hey! 🙂 Yes it was daunting but I lived to tell the tale. Luckily I sell way nicer things in real life, and not in the street…
      Maybe no clams but do you have mussels there, like in the north of France?

      1. Sunny 2014-03-16 at 13:08

        We do get mussels, but to be honest I prefer clams to mussels! Mussels and fries are a bit of a national dish here 😉

        1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-03-16 at 13:50

          I can’t say because even though in Lille it’s also their “national” dish, every time I go there it is NOT in season, and I have never got to try it!

  6. Ngan R. 2014-03-15 at 17:25

    What a neat experience–the story about the bracelets is interesting to show how your presentation can change someone’s mind. Very neat! And the clam recipe looks delicious!

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-03-16 at 00:17

      Yes, imagine one product packaged 2 ways. We would go for the nicer packaging, right? 😉 xx

  7. pianolearner 2014-03-16 at 00:11

    I am very good at technical presentations, and am fairly confident in front of people. But I would struggle to sell something I don’t believe in. I think I would not make a great sales person, unless it was for something I truly liked.
    I’m glad you’re enjoying the new role. I am sure you could sell tea to China or coal to Newcastle.

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-03-16 at 00:14

      Actually you have a point there, and I also need to believe in what I sell. Luckily I adore the products that I work with at the moment. Haha but these 3 things were only for half an hour’s practice… So I don’t think I could sell coal! By the way I’ve been busy but I want to by the flower patch book 🙂

      1. pianolearner 2014-03-16 at 00:18

        I have been really busy too with work and OU assignment. I hope you do get chance to buy it. I think it is beautiful. My next post will be about it and I will link to a number of blogs that show some of the internal photos. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. It has been in all the major newspapers, tomorrow it is in the Sunday Telegraph.

        1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-03-16 at 11:31

          Wow thats great news! I’ll post it too when I buy it and receive it 🙂 I haven’t done it yet because what I didn’t write here is that I’ve been away in Madrid really busy, but I’m back home now so I’ll try and do it today 🙂

  8. Amanda 2014-03-16 at 02:50

    This is such a great post. Awesome. Your pics are amazing. Great recipe. Yum.

  9. Helen @ Scrummy Lane 2014-03-16 at 09:06

    You are obviously a true saleswoman, Sofia! And I’m always impressed by the unusual things you make! Hope you’re enjoying your weekend 🙂

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-03-16 at 11:29

      Just the opposite haha, selling can be scary, and thus the course 🙂 I am enjoying the weekend, I hope you are too 🙂

  10. Joyce 2014-03-16 at 13:23

    Sofia that is a very amusing story. I’m curious, what does one do with the balsamic tissues?

    Your clams look fabulous! There is an abundance of seafood where I live, plenty of oysters, but no clams or mussels. I miss those!

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-03-16 at 13:53

      I don’t now what they are called where you live, in Spain tissues with a bit of mentholated smell..
      An abundance of oysters sounds good 🙂

  11. Laura Lynn 2014-03-16 at 19:06

    That sounds like quite a challenge! Especially the ugly bracelets. I really wish I could have seen them! Still, selling anything to a complete stranger is tough. I always say that when someone says ‘No’ that’s just an opportunity for me to call them back and change their mind. Even if it takes 10 ‘no’s’ there’s a ‘yes’ there somewhere. I learned that when canvassing for charity. Maybe the timing was wrong the first time, or they were in a bad mood the second time, or they just got some distracting news the third time…and so on. It helps that it’s a good cause and that most people are looking for ways to help. They just don’t know it. However it would challenge even my optimism to be faced with those 3 objects to cold sell.
    Love the clam recipe. It looks simple and delicious!

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-03-16 at 20:08

      Yeah I should have made a photo of the ugly bracelets! Hey you sound very convincing and won’t take no for an answer, want to come and work here with me? (No, you DON’T want to work in Spain 😉 not the most ideal place). xx

  12. Pemberley Cup & Cakes by Rosa 2014-03-16 at 21:19

    I don’t know whether I enjoyed most the story about your course and the selling experience or the recipe (I make this one a lot too). Como decimos mucho por aquí, eres una máquina, Sofía! 😉

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-03-16 at 21:35

      Una maquina no tanto, por eso he tenido que ir a un curso, pero cuidado que a partir de ahora lo seré! 😉
      A que es facil y rica esta receta? Besos!

  13. dedy oktavianus pardede 2014-03-17 at 11:31

    You should be gracefull Sofia, since you’re really beautifull……
    I’m not a smoker but i once brought one package of ciggarette from an irresistable beauty sellers in the stadion, then i gave the cigarette to the janitor in my campus in the next day
    the steamed clams looks irresstable too!!!

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-03-17 at 11:37

      Your cigarette story made me smile, so cute and funny 🙂 Oh the clams are irresistible, yes!

  14. apartmentwife 2014-03-17 at 20:59

    oh gosh, i wish you had filmed yourself approaching the strangers – it would be amusing. i don’t think i can sell *anything* so even with all my love for people, i’d be scared out of my wits :/

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-03-17 at 23:09

      I can just imagine you of course giving it all away for free, except for the cigarettes because its bad for them 😉 xx

  15. Mitzie Mee 2014-03-17 at 23:06

    Sounds like a fun course and those clams look so good:)


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