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Memories Sell

Sales advice from Gulfshore Business Associate Publisher Rob Wardlaw.



A then-client of mine was devastated when Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992. His home and business were completely destroyed. He had evacuated safely, but the only possessions he was able to save were those that he could fit in his car. Despite what had happened, he had previously planned a trip to Manhattan to meet key contacts to promote his business, and he decided to follow through.

Back then, I worked for a book-review publication and I was on his list of people to meet. When he arrived, we spoke briefly, and he presented his audiobooks to our reviewer. After that, he told me the story of his recent misfortune—I felt bad and decided that I would gather a group of colleagues to take him out after work. After all he’d been through, it was a small gesture to lift his spirits.

What followed that evening was the type of experience that happens rarely in life, when things flow spontaneously and everything is just right. We started by taking my client for a drink at a country bar because he said that he liked country music. Aside from the music and the sawdust on the floor, the bar was loud and rowdy and the servers were all women wearing cowboy boots. One had a bullhorn and frequently shouted such orders as, “If you drink you can stay, but when you stop drinking you must leave.” A fistfight broke out while we were there—and by that I mean a full-fledged brawl. That was a good cue for us to leave.

After the country bar, we decided to eat at a Mexican restaurant that was a short distance away. While I don’t remember the food, I do remember the atmosphere. When we arrived, the Neil Diamond song Cracklin’ Rosie was playing—followed by an hour of Neil Diamond’s other greatest hits. Many in this Mexican restaurant were singing along. This was by no means the best food I’ve eaten with a client, but it was definitely among the most enjoyable.

We finished the evening by taking my client to a former speakeasy. He thought this was so cool and something that he’d never experience in his town, Homestead. We didn’t have the address, only the street name and the fact that the entrance was from the back alley. Each of us took turns ringing doorbells until we found the right door. Ringing that bell was like hitting a jackpot on a slot machine. A small slot in the door opened and a voice behind the door asked for the password. Inside, I don’t believe much had changed since the 1930s.

The lesson of this story is that it was memorable. Even these many years later I still remember the details from that evening. But more important, it was memorable to my client. How do I know that? Because for many years that followed, he would send my colleagues and me a Christmas card saying how much he enjoyed and appreciated that evening. He said it mattered that we cared about him beyond just doing business. Plus, he had his own story to tell of a night out in the big city, giving him bragging rights with his friends back home.

Always strive to be memorable with respect to your clients. The marketplace is saturated with lots of salespeople. Being memorable gives you a considerable advantage—one that will instantly set you apart from your competitors and cut through the noise and clutter, leading to more successful sales. 

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