To Sell Successfully, You Have to Be Willing to Be Different


We are complex. We confidently assert that we are independent thinkers but then we can feel uncomfortable -- even embarrassed - if we break out of "the norm." However, in business the biggest rewards often go to people who are willing to be different.

One night, I was in a mall at suppertime. There were a dozen places to eat at the food court and the crowd was thin. Behind one counter, a middle-aged Oriental woman passionately took action to improve her odds of success. In thickly accented English, she crowed at every potential customer within ten feet, "Hi! Want try some?" as she tempted people with morsels of steaming, spicy chicken skewered on neon-colored toothpicks. Half of them pretended not to hear, deliberately looked away, and walked by. Those who looked saw her flash a proud smile. Nearly all of the lookers accepted their reward and about half of them bought something from her.

At the other places, employees cleaned or waited on customers, but mostly they leaned on the counters and watched the mall world drift by. It was a slow night. None of them offered samples or asked customers to buy. In the 20 minutes I watched, her eatery earned as much business -- including mine -- as all of the competition combined. She alone was passionately willing to do what they would not.

I looked at the 15 year old boy behind her counter and thought, "I hope you realize how lucky you are to learn so young what your Mama knows. Some adults take years to figure out the way to get ahead is simply to do what other people can't or won't do."


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