Thursday, February 25, 2010

An Old Dog and The Pound

I was sitting with my grandparents during Saturday morning Shabbat services in sunny Delray Beach, Florida amongst a crowd of sweet geriatrics festooned in every imaginable machination of pastel costumery, when a sharp dressed man reminiscent of a mustachioed Gary Cooper approached.  As I have learned is the new custom in this healthily germophobic land of hand sanitizers, the man extended his clenched first to my grandfather as a greeting rather than shaking hands.  (We whippersnappers call this giving ‘The Pound’) 

A similar routine had occurred several times that morning, but I had enjoyed the irony of a gesture that was only five years ago reserved for generation hip-hop now being used out of perceived medical necessity by the golden girls and their hobbled hubbies in smug isolation until this fellow tapped me on the shoulder.  A bit startled, I locked eye contact making my best ‘we’re-both-cool-guys’ face and bumped knuckles.  Then this gentleman leans in with surprising vigor and says to me “Greet everybody with the same respect as the person who is most important to you.  Everyone will like you, and that’s how to be a great salesman.”

I ask my grandfather why he told this guy that I’m in sales and mess around with a blog about sales best practices, and he tells me “I did no such thing.  In fact, I barely know anything about him other than that he was a very successful menswear salesman in New York for many years.”  What!?  Maybe this guy’s thing is doling out unsolicited sales advice, but the moment felt almost cosmic in the context of an ongoing religious service.

So now I am left to extrapolate what wisdom this man would have shared relating to this comment had his career matured in the age of the blogosphere. 

We sales professionals can get so intensely focused on pleasing the main decision maker that we lose sight of the impression we’re making on other influencers.  Despite the constant reminders from every source of sales literature urging us to concentrate on VITO, nobody likes to make important decisions completely on their own, and the backing of a few confidants could make the difference between winning the deal or losing it to the brown-noser with low prices and a flashy presentation. 

If they’re with the person you are trying to win over at the time of introduction, they’ll probably get the chance to add their two cents when you leave the room.  Not letting anybody in the proverbial room get away without a direct smile and recognition is a no-lose habit worth reinforcing into second nature.  I imagine every advisor to the tri-state area’s fashion buyers of yesteryear appreciated it too.