Sometimes, the simplest situations can turn into a reminder of how the image you present can both help and hinder. I remember once, when my wife and I went into Sam’s Club to change the name on our membership cards. We thought that it would be a simple process, but it wasn’t. Thankfully, the customer service person was a true gem, and extremely helpful in the process. At the end, she asked me what I did for a living. Without thinking, I said, “I train sales people.” At that, my wife gave a rueful laugh. “Well, that was real unique,” she said with a smile. “Oh boy. You and everyone else.” I grinned sheepishly, realizing that I probably looked and sounded quite stupid.
Truth is, though, I do train sales people. I train them to hone and fashion their message to present themselves, and their product or service in the best light possible. In social gatherings, events, almost everywhere I am asked what I do for a living, I have responded with something like “I create unique sales strategies, which attract more prospects, retain more clients, and drive more sales.” That statement sounds a bit different from my hurried statement of “I train sales people” given to the girl at Sam’s Club doesn’t it? So I asked myself, why my approached had changed, and I came to a somewhat unpleasant conclusion.
At the time of the conversation, I didn’t think that presenting myself in the best, most accurate light mattered. After all, she was just a sales clerk. How could her impression of me matter very much at all? I had fallen into the trap that my students learn to avoid like the plague early on. Even if the person you’re talking to might seem insignificant at the time, they certainly are significant to someone, somewhere.
Here is a small story to illustrate this very important lesson. One day, in the early 1900s, an older lady walked into Macy’s. One by one, the sales people looked her over and said, “You go wait on her. After all it’s just another shopper.” Finally, one of the younger sales ladies went over and asked the older lady if she needed help.
For the rest of the day, this younger saleswoman and the older lady went around Macy’s and shopped. The older lady was pleasantly surprised at the friendly and helpful nature of the younger saleswoman, who carried her bags, help her pick out different items. At the end of the day, she even found a ride home for the older lady. In every sense of the word, the saleswoman had thrilled and exceeded the expectations of the older woman.
The story, however, does not end there. A few days later, a middle-aged, well dressed man walked into the same store and asked for the manager. The salespeople whispered among themselves, some of them recognizing the man standing among them. Respectfully, the manager was called over. The well-dressed man asked to see the sales woman who had helped his mother just a few days ago. It turned out that this man was in fact the famous Andrew Carnegie. His mother, who had been so well treated by the saleswoman, had told her son of her impression. This convinced Mr. Carnegie, that Macy’s would be the ideal place to start shopping for the furnishing of his Scotland castle that was being built.
So, as you can see, anytime you present your message, anytime someone hears it, it will eventually reach someone you want to impress. Who you are talking to right now is probably much more important that you think, or could have the ears of very important people. Therefore, making sure the impression you make is extremely important. It is imperative that you do anything and everything in your power to make sure the impression you give is the right one.