While speaking to a banker group recently, I made a half-joking observation that I hadn’t made in some time. The laughing and note taking it created made me make a mental note that it still rang true.
I pointed out that we all like to think that our success is directly tied to genius strategies and our execution of those strategies.
We make plans. We execute those plans. We know what we’re doing!
I told the group that I, however, had become comfortable long ago with the concept of “dumb luck.” When they began chuckling, I told them that their supervisors might want a slightly more detailed plan of action during their next performance review.
When I ran an in-store branch back in the Mesozoic Period, I met the person who eventually became the largest depositor (by far) in my branch entirely by accident. I stepped out to get coffee at my branch’s coffee table at the same time he walked up. (Sure, I suppose the coffee table was “strategy.”)
I was preoccupied and not paying attention, and the fact that I walked up not 30 seconds earlier or 30 seconds later was luck. We were fortuitously forced into exchanging pleasantries as we shuffled around each other fixing our coffees.
Mr. Lawrence and I became accidental acquaintances.
Within 3 months of that chance meeting, Mr. Lawrence – a large landowner and farmer - had become a good friend and great customer. I have long since joked that was the beginning of my advocacy of my “dumb luck” strategy.
My team could attest that I had proven I could be dumb just about anywhere. However, luck only seemed to be found when I left the branch.
Over the years, I’ve often asked folks if they have their own stories of great new contacts and/or customers that came from finding themselves simply being at the right place at the right time. Most folks have those stories.
I don’t remember hearing many start with, “I was just sitting at my desk, when…”
All (okay, most) kidding aside, that “dumb luck” strategy isn’t dumb. Having a predilection for putting yourself in places where you may actually make new acquaintances is an incredibly useful habit to develop.
You go where the luck is.
Your future best customer may be just a few steps out into a store, or down the street, or at the next gathering you talk yourself into attending.
Step out and create your own ‘dumb luck” this week.
Over a couple of decades of speaking/ preaching to folks, one of the subjects I have been most passionate about is the concept of reciprocity.
Simply, we are wired to want to return the goodwill others show us.
Beyond that, we tend to have an innate drive to assist others in need, even when there is no obvious or immediate quid pro quo.
I’ve suggested to groups that some choose to understand that trait from an evolutionary science aspect and others more from a religious (“Do unto others…”) point of view.
Regardless of what drives these behaviors, great examples of it often become apparent during periods of great need.
An example I’ve cited in recent weeks is the “Cajun Navy” that sprung up in my old home state of Louisiana.
Almost incomprehensible amounts of rain fell over portions of southern Louisiana, causing levels of flooding that few folks alive have ever seen.
Before the rains stopped or the floods peaked, many hundreds of average citizens from around the state hitched trailers and boats to their vehicles and headed toward the danger.
The amount of manpower and resources private citizens put into motion was greater than government agencies would or could provide in so urgent a situation.
Over the course of several days, non-paid citizens gave their time, risked their own well-being, and spent their own money to rescue thousands of people and their pets.
When not deterred by outside forces, humans show a natural desire and willingness to build and maintain reciprocal relationships with their fellow man.
Known, but unspoken, is that if the situation were reversed, many of the folks on the receiving side of assistance would instead have provided it.
Whenever bankers speak to me about building healthy sales cultures, I point out that a healthy sales culture is one in which customers and potential customers know, like, and trust you.
Marketing can help them know you, but only personal actions and gestures get you into to the “know and like” category.
A healthy “sales culture” is one in which you hear some sincere version of “Thank you” or “I appreciate that” on a regular basis.
It tells you that you and your team are earning the respect and goodwill of people who will want to associate with you going forward.
What are you hearing today?