I promised to relate a small but very important piece of advice I received from a manager when I worked at The Olive Garden. I was working at the location in south Tempe, AZ on Elliot Road. We had a very personable management staff at that location. There were two standouts there, Tom (don’t remember his last name), and Ken Miller.
Ken was a very enthusiastic and upbeat man. He had a way of managing without the threat of force that was well suited to the restaurant business. I think Dan Fogleberg called this a “thundering velvet hand” in Leader of the Band. As I have found with anyone who wears their heart on their sleeve, he was susceptible at times to getting really caught up in the moment as well, but the great majority of the time, Ken was the one you went to when you needed help or advice with anything.
I don’t remember the exact context of what I’m about to share, but it happened to me 14 years ago, and I still remember it quite vividly. I was in the back, helping expedite some other servers food while my tables were eating. Ken and I were having a conversation, and we were talking about situations where the kitchen was slow, and patrons get a little antsy waiting.
Ken told me “Within 15 seconds of you going up and greeting a table for the first time, those people will ask themselves one question: ‘Do I like this person?’ If the answer to that is ‘Yes’ you can navigate anything, if not, you will be in for a very long night.”
Over the years, I have found this to be overwhelmingly true. Whether selling for IBM, iWired, ONteriors or Mad/Orange Pro, the customer relationship is the foundation upon everything hinges.
I was talking to my current boss, the owner of Mad Systems, a couple weeks back. We were speaking about cold calls and customer relationship management. The conversation went down several parallel paths, and I think we both concluded that the secret to establishing this relationship properly, really depends heavily on the lost art of etiquette.
The reason I mention this, is because although we all have unique and distinct inherent personality traits, we are all capable of using proper etiquette. So if a great deal of sales success relies on establishing rapport, and etiquette is one of the foundations of that rapport, then we should all be able to improve upon our sales skills, despite any personality differences we may have. It is really very encouraging if you think about it at any length.
So in the tradition of a dead art, the next post will be on etiquette, and its proper use, followed by some information on building solid rapport.