How My Mother Taught Me a Very Important Sales Lesson

Daniel Levis is a wonderful story teller.  Read this quick story he tells about a visit to the grocery store that provided an excellent marketing example…

“Upon getting out of my truck and making my way across the parking lot, I am uplifted by the gentle scent of apple and cinnamon wafting into my nostrils. This is weird I’m thinking …

As I approach the store I am greeted by a half-dozen smiling people.

Seated comfortably on bales of straw, the butcher and baker appear to be engaging customers in casual conversation. Everyone is sipping apple cider and clearly enjoying the ambiance of plump orange pumpkins plunked here and there among antique farm implements.

The sights and sounds and tastes are deliberately designed to evoke warm fall fair memories and the associated desire for pies and preserves and smoky bacon which just happen to be on sale inside the store.”


Could marketing get any better than this?


Yet, how many times do you miss the opportunity to use what you have to produce the results you want?


I Can’t Do that BECAUSE…


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “Well, that’s a really great idea BUT I can’t do that because I don’t have (whatever the person speaking thinks they need to have to market themselves).”


A Lesson from Mother


My Mother was hands-down one of the best cooks ever.  Yeah, I know everyone thinks their Mom is a great cook: however, my Mom had the proof to back up my claims in the form of a herd of raving fans packing her restaurant throughout the day on a daily basis.


You know another way you can tell a great cook from someone who just cooks?  Great cooks don’t use recipes or measuring cups.


The rest of us approach cooking by thinking of something we’d like to eat, finding a recipe, then rounding up the ingredients so we can tackle the job.


Not Mom.


Mom exemplified the other trade mark of a great cook.  Great cooks create delectable delights from the ingredients they have on hand.


Like any good restaurant Mom’s restaurant had a menu with the staples you could get every day any time of the day, but that menu isn’t what brought in the crowds.  Nope, what brought all those people to Mom’s restaurant every day was the “specials”.


I don’t think even Mom knew what the specials would be until that very day.  Mom searched her larder (for you city folk that’s where you keep all the grub) and chose ingredients that she transformed into something heavenly.  Her “special” included a main dish, side dishes, AND desert.


Once the ingredients were chosen she began to saute, stir, and season with conviction.


This all started at least 2 hours before lunch.   The smells wafted for miles in all directions.  You should have seen the faces on the diners as they entered.  They entered nose first with a big anticipatory smile.


She had customers who regularly drove over 60 miles just for her specials.


Now had Mom thought she couldn’t cook a particular dish because she didn’t have this, or she didn’t have that a lot of hungry people would have been sorely disappointed.


Mom’s Lesson in Action


So, for example, the next time you think you can’t introduce yourself to a potential client BECAUSE you don’t have some fancy smancy brochure let me ask you, “Do you have paper and something to write with?”


I don’t care how great your fancy brochure, odds are no one will ever even pause to look at it much less read it.  When you send a brochure in the mail it hits file 13 faster than a wild fire on a windy day.  Yet, when was the last time you threw away a handwritten note without reading it first?


Did a brochure ever make you feel good about the company sending it?  If it left any kind of  impression at all it probably wasn’t pleasant.


How can you help but think well of someone who takes the time to send you a quick handwritten note introducing themselves and offering something helpful?


Would you ever want to work with someone who didn’t appreciate your thoughtfulness anyway?


Take stock.


What can you use to reach out and make a connection with someone you’d really like as a client?  What are you waiting for?  Use it.


Coach Cheryl





  1. You are right on, Cheryl. My grandmother was a cook for the Conrad Hilton in Chicago and she never ever used a receipe. Back on the farm in her larder and root cellar (you city folks – cold storage think refrigerator) she would take what appeared to be nothing and transform it into a feast. Thanks for rekindling those precious memories. How true it also relates to life and business.

  2. Mary Lueth says:

    Thanks for such a heart-warming message! You know my love for cooking and this “kneeds” it all together!

  3. Glad you enjoyed it. Most of the best lessons I’ve learned about business had nothing to do with business at first glance. Business, after all, is all about people and people are all about the connections you make and the feeling you generate.

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