Go Low-Tech, High-Touch for Major Impact

in Cooking and Barbeque, Sales Recommendations (presentations)

In our age of being constantly electronically connected to our Blackberrys, iPhones, social media sites and more…let’s stop and revisit what really makes a memorable difference in sales, and all of life for that matter: the personal touch, and the little things that mean a lot.

One example that sticks out in my mind happened a few years ago while I was waiting for my order in the take-out area of a Famous Dave’s barbeque. (By the way, I cook barbeque competitively and have won in contests, and I can say that for a chain, Famous Dave’s puts out an outstanding product).

While waiting, I noticed the owner of this franchise location at the time, meeting and greeting customers. Now, this was no regular restaurant owner; he’s Willie Thiesen, founder of the Godfather’s Pizza chain. He cashed out of that for several hundred mill a number of years ago, at one time owned the largest home in Omaha, and was again dabbling in the food business. He’s somewhat of a legend.  

So I’m sitting there, looking very unimportant in my beat-up sweatshirt, jeans, pulled-down faded ballcap, sporting three-day beard stubble, and he sits down next to me on the bench.

"Waiting for your takeout order?"

"Yeah, haven’t been here long. No problem."

Then we chatted for several minutes about the fine art and science of smoking a succulent, melt-in-your-mouth brisket. I related that I owned multiple smokers and have competed in a number of national competitions.

He then jumped up, reached over the counter, grabbed a bottle of Famous Dave’s Devil’s Spit spicy sauce and said,

"Here, let me give you this. I think you’ll love it."

Wow. He GAVE me a bottle of sauce.

That’s the basis for this week’s Tip.

Now, you might be saying to yourself, "Is this crazy? I’m wasting time reading about a guy giving another guy a $3 bottle of barbeque sauce."

Oh, but it’s much more than that.

Do you realize how much mileage Famous Dave’s and Willie Thiesen got from that $3 bottle of sauce (which probably cost about 50 cents to produce)?

Well, for one, over 21,000 people worldwide at the time I first wrote about it read it here several years ago. And now, about 65,000 or so. And what the heck, here’s Famous Dave’s website: http://www.famousdaves.com/ Maybe someone will buy a franchise. Or some stock (they’re on the NASDAQ).

And of course I related that story in person many times since then. And who knows how many times that was retold?

Yes, the human touch, and little things. They still mean a lot.

Here are a few other sales points at work in this Sauce Event.

DON’T DISMISS SOMEONE AS UNIMPORTANT. Or not qualified to buy. You never know who you’re talking to. Especially on incoming calls. I’ve seen plenty of sales reps mentally disqualify a prospect by just looking at a name on a reply card or computer screen. When I was waiting for the takeout order I might have looked like I was applying for a busboy job, but still received VIP treatment.

THE LAW OF RECIPROCATION. In the book I consider the "bible" of persuasion, "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert B. Cialdini, the author spends an entire chapter talking about the Reciprocation Rule that our culture follows, which states, "We should repay, in kind, what another person has provided us."

He further says "that because there is a general societal distaste for people who take and make no effort to give in return, we will often go to great lengths to avoid being considered a moocher, ingrate, or welsher." After all, who hasn’t sent holiday cards to someone because you received one from them? Or have you ever bought something in a grocery store simply because you tried the sample from the nice lady handing it out and felt obligated to stick one in your cart?

GIVE A LITTLE AND MAYBE GET A LOT. I don’t advocate lowering price to sweeten a deal, but how about giving away something that is low cost to you, but high value for someone else? Little things mean a lot. Extending the terms on someone’s warranty or subscription, giving valuable printed how-to information … anything with a high profit margin that could have tremendous impact. It can get customers, and keep them buying.

BE CARE-FULL. Or, full of care. You need to CARE about a prospect or customer to truly make an impact. I was giving some instruction to an underperforming sales rep after a call, and he told me, "You’re assuming I care about them." No coaching will help that attitude. In my example, I watched Willie care about all the customers he talked to. I personally saw it in his eyes and felt it in his voice. Think he needs the money? There’s a different motivator there. On the phone, your care must come through in your voice.

Yes sir, a nice investment of about 50 cents and your personal touch, Willie. Lots of people got a return on that one. And there was not a smart phone or laptop involved. It was the ultimate in "social media"–talking to and caring about a customer.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul Castain May 17, 2010 at 8:01 pm


This is by far one of my favorite posts!

We are now living in a total word of mouth society. Don’t get me wrong, it was always there but now it happens at the speed of light.

We need to be mindful that this can work in our favor as you pointed out, or it can work against us when our clients receive sub standard service.

Thanks for the awesome tips Art!

Paul Castain


Art Sobczak May 18, 2010 at 8:01 am

Paul, yes, as Phil Mickelson said a couple of weeks ago, EVERYONE is in the media now, and bad reports travel faster than good ones. Thanks for the reply. Everyone should check out your site too!


Carol May 18, 2010 at 8:02 pm

So true – givers gain. The higher the technology, the higher the need for personal touch. Babies (and business) will die without human interaction and touch. Machines and technology are wonderful but alway remember we are not machines – we are human and need each other.


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