All Things Being Equal

I’ll probably only buy one white rat for a 10-year-old boy in my entire life. Primarily because I don’t intend to have another 10-year-old boy nor another caged white rat if I don’t absolutely have to. Because of that, it doesn’t really matter that I feel one way or the other about the person who made that sale to me. I’ll likely never ever see them again. All things being equal, I just wanted the cheapest little white booger that I could find because I was sure it would either not live that long or escape its cage and run loose in my house … which was essentially the same thing.

Most of us, however, sell something that we are hoping is not a one-time event. We are actually not as interested in the sale as an end result as we are in developing a long-term relationship with what Mark LeBlanc calls our “perfect-fit” clients. Most of us quickly see the efficacy of having a smaller number of long-term ‘perfect-fit’ clients rather than a ton of ‘bad’ or even ‘decent’ fit clients. Common sense, really… and a whole lot more satisfying.

Case in point: The word EAT for most of us means to consume food to sustain our bodies. But the acronym E.A.T., to almost every citizen of Temecula, California, means Extraordinary Artisan Table… which, translated further, means consistently exceptional, locally-sourced food served in a friendly, communal-style atmosphere. The owner and chef, Leah DiBernardo, is a community advocate for “slow food” and the riches of relationship that can develop from the cooking of good, clean, healthy food and the enjoyment of those meals around a table with family and friends. Leah showcased this idea in her local Temecula TEDx talk, A Small Kitchen, a Large Table, and Big Conversations.

Tom and I had brunch yesterday at E.A.T.’s as we have many times in the past. The restaurant is situated in Temecula’s Old Towne right next door to our local Saturday farmer’s market so you count on having to wait a bit for a seat even at a community table at E.A.T.’s on Saturday mornings. We took the last two chairs at the bar which overlooks the bustling kitchen activities. I think it’s the best seat in the house. From our birds-eye view we could enjoy all the conversations, hand signals, and other various forms of communication which flowed between the wait staff, food preppers, and chefs who all moved like ants in an anthill… always looking like they will crash into one another but somehow managing to navigate in and around each other in perfect harmony. And of this under the watchful eye of the Italian visionary proprietor, Leah.

Not only are customers expected to sit with others and enjoy community while they dine but also Leah and her team mingle and chat and are extremely knowledgeable about the ingredients and local sources of every item on the menu (each employee is required to work at least 8 hours a month at one of EAT’s supplying farms and ranches.) You get the distinct impression that they are like one big, fabulous family complete with occasional fussing’s, high expectations of themselves and each other combined with a sincere desire to support the team and keep a sense of humor.

At one point, an interaction between Leah and a young female server caught my eye. Catching an imperfectly prepared bowl of soup heading out to the floor, Leah took the dish from the tray, corrected whatever was wrong and instructed the server (with a quick comment to the chef nearby) that this was not how it was to be served. Ever. When the server mumbled something under her breath, I was surprised to see Leah swat her on the head as she turned in my direction. “Don’t ever hire your own children… they’re the only employees that will talk back at you,” she said to me with a wry smile and a quick wink.

She made a quick, sweeping glance around the place, making sure all was well, and then meandered over to us at the metallic bar where she chatted with the couple next to us, asking after their careers and families. She cheerfully answered my questions about the ingredients of a delicious Paleo Bowl sauce and local source of the microgreens and eggs. And then she moved on to all the others…. making us each feel that we knew her and she knew us and that we could have just as easily been sitting around her ‘small kitchen, large table, enjoying a big conversation with the DiBernardo family.” We repeatedly go to E.A.T.’s, as much for that feeling of connection as for the fresh and delicious food.

Leah said in her TEDx talk, “It takes time, hard work, and careful choices to produce good, clean, healthy food in an environment where people can really come together… which some say makes it expensive. But what about the cost of not being connected, of us being divided, and being pushed further apart and becoming isolated as a community?” E.A.T.’s success is about quality, but even more it’s more about community and relationships. It’s about slowing down even in a busy place of business and making people feel at home and cared for – making eye contact, joking, and including them in the passionate experience. This is what creates long-term relationships with perfect fit clients.

This week, focus on relationships, not sales. Don’t get so busy that you forget to smile, connect, chat, and engage with your clients and patients on a real and authentic level. This is what creates life-long clients who refer everyone they know.

“Internalize the Golden Rule of sales that says: All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust.”
~ Bob Burg

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