I’ve had limited experience in show business. The highlights of my entertainment career include the magic show I produced and starred in at age 8, various band performances, and a walk-on supporting role as a wise man in a Nativity play. Oh wait, I forgot to mention, my biggest show business role. I was involved in retail sales.
Retail sales can be a limiting and brutal environment, physically and emotionally. But it is one of the best environments for learning and practicing how to perform with and for others.
Retail sales is all about people, it is not about merchandise. Listening to what people want and helping them find it. You are performing all day, and when you realize this, it can be an exhilarating and fun experience. You can prepare, rehearse and modify your performances daily.
What am I talking about? Performing? Exactly. If you assume the role of an enthusiastic, informed and helpful person you can give something to each person you encounter during the day. You will feel great about yourself and the client or co-worker walks away with an unexpected gift of meeting and connecting with a positive human experience.
I was involved in the fresh flower industry. Olga and I opened a “bucket-shop”, which at the time was an innovation, and dedicated ourselves to making every customers experience distinct and important.
No one buys flowers because they have to. They are sought when one wishes to celebrate a birthday, anniversary, birth of child, graduation, religious holiday, or wedding. They might be using the flowers to recognize an illness or death, as a thank you, to recognize a special person, to say I love you or I’m sorry, or as a emotional pick me up.
Flowers are objects that represent an emotion. Customers were not buying flowers. They were seeking a symbol of their feelings or the feelings they wished to transmit. Isn’t that true about most consumer items?
Understanding this, how can you NOT be enthusiastic about coming to work and giving your best performance?
During the time clients were in our environment, we were part of their search to represent their emotions, our advice was of great importance in order to find the right symbol, the perfect flowers. It was much more than a commodity transaction.
It’s important to recognize that false enthusiasm isn’t going to work. You have to believe in yourself, your abilities and knowledge. You have to believe that you are going on-stage everyday, and that your “performance” has to be genuine. You have to listen to the people around you, and determine what they are really seeking, and help them get it.
People used to stop in and visit us to get a shot of enthusiasm and positive attitude. There was always a smile, a greeting. The environment was light, fun, open, accepting. It was an amazing experience for us and for the clients. We gave a positive attitude, and customers gave us back more positive attitude.
All it took was our dedication to providing the best “performance” we could manage, everyday, no matter who was in the audience.
It’s “showtime” in your life every morning (remember Rob Schneider’s performance in “All that Jazz”?). It’s your decision to assume the role you are going to play. Will it be the angry, grumpy, distracted, negative you? Will it be the upbeat, enthusiastic, focused you?
It’s “showtime” right now.
It’s always “showtime”.