Men and lego waiving together

Chase The Journey

Journey. No, I am not taking about the always inspiring musical group. I am also not talking about the popular shoe store that is a staple in every mall. Journey has many meanings, but the Webster definition is: an act of traveling from one place to another. I like to call it life.

I’ve been on a good many journeys in my life and the one that I am traveling along at this moment is by far the most interesting, challenging, scary, and hopeful journey that I have ever been on. You see, I am in the process of beginning a career. What makes it unique, though, is that in my mid-thirties, when many people are just closing out their first decade in their chosen path, I am just getting started. I chose to go into sales; a weird world of Alpha-ness, rejection, at times minor depression, and rejoicing.

I know sales well. I have been doing it for 15 years. It would seem that my timeline has somehow skewed into an alternate universe from what I said before. I was a waiter though college and when I decided I wanted to live in the Big Apple I found myself with big city dreams, a small town budget, and my landlord still needed the uber-inflated rent. I began working in high end restaurants that were always busy, made great money, and had little responsibility once I clocked out. Fast forward 10+ years and we arrive to the present. Through my journey in the crazy world of restaurants I acquired many skills. Most of these skills, I came to find were pointed directly to a sales career.

The question for me was: where can I find a company that is willing to give a guy who has never been in the “real world” a chance with the “simple skills” of being a waiter? I was lucky enough to find such a company that was not only willing to give me the opportunity but also has patented training program that helps to build new sales professionals from the ground up. It is up to the individual what he makes of this and I have tried to take it all in. Only, I found something interesting. I knew more than I thought.

In the service industry you have to have a thick skin. People can be at their absolute worst when they are hungry and have had a bad day. The best way to make it through a situation like that is, as the saying goes, kill ’em with kindness. Turns out, this is the same technique that I use with gatekeepers. They are there to make sure their boss, the decision- maker, doesn’t waste their time with whatever you are peddling. NO, ultimately, is the final answer in whatever their prepackaged,’ they’re in a meeting’ or ‘they are out of the office’, response is. The solution, in the service industry, is to grab them a drink, maybe a quick appetizer before their friend arrives and let them know that in their time with you, they are in a good place. Whatever your equivalent may be with a gatekeeper, one truth stands firm. A positive attitude will always overcome negativity.

There are many phrases that are feared in the service industry; the most eye rolling, deep breath inducing is, “what’s good here?” This can be handled in a couple of ways. Start rattling off a few selected items in each category or ask a question. I’m not eating your meal. You are! My job was to take the guest through a series of questions to help them find the right fit for them. This sounds a little but like leading a potential client to the conclusion that they want to buy from you. Weird. Does asking good questions lead to answers?

They can, but only if you are a sales person that is willing do one thing. Shut up! You may want the beefy triple cheese beer soaked bacon burger with twice fried onion strings, but your hungry guest is a vegetarian with a gluten and onion allergy. And listen. They will tell you what they want. You have to be willing to hear what they have to say in order to lead them to the perfect pear, almond salad, with organic grass fed goat cheese with sprinkles of happy thoughts.

When it comes to know being an expert at my craft, I always strive to be a strong contender for Number One. On the journey I’m traveling I got thrust into a world that was completely foreign to me. I knew nothing of the world I was now selling but if I didn’t learn what I was selling then my journey would end up back where I started, telling you all about what is in the fish tacos. Which, I would be able to tell you about every detail of those delicious fish tacos because if I didn’t, well, it could possibly kill you. Allergies, what a bummer. The tacos are so good. The new world I was in, if I didn’t know the ins-and-outs certainly wouldn’t kill you, but it does have a direct correlation to, not only, my success but also to the success of my clients. Knowing the product is essential, in any industry, to knowing the answers to the questions to best suit my guest/clients. It’s almost as if all these are intertwined in support of one another, doesn’t it?

Being a waiter is a job where you have to be perpetually able to break through those tough times and come out ahead. Otherwise, count on a 12-15% night and begging to get out of there. Only to realize, “uber-inflated rent is due tomorrow” and you needed a big night. Pick your head up and pick up that lunch shift. Grind it out. Get it done. In my new sales world the same holds true. The calls have to be made! If I don’t, then nobody is sitting at my tables/meetings and rent is not getting paid. It is a nitty gritty dirty world out there. Only the ones willing to jump into that dirt are going to walk out in the pressed, tailored suit.

Using these ideas or pillars, if you will, of sales I know this journey I’m on will be a wonderfully whacky world of Alpha-ness, rejection, minor depression, and rejoicing. But as the legendary rock band says, don’t stop believing…in yourself and where you are going.