A Place to Start (Issue 895)

In which we are encouraged to give clients an easy first “yes” from which we then can expand a relationship.

 A big occasion, family dinner. Six of us out to eat at for the first time at a “bring your big appetite” restaurant, an enormous facility broken into several still-significant dining rooms with a twenty-foot long salad bar in the middle of the main dining room.  Once we were seated, our server team arrived to orient us to the restaurant.

“We don’t offer menus,” they said, “we circulate with various dishes and you can choose what you like when we come by…For beef, we serve Prime Sirloin, Beef Tenderloin, Ribeye, Top Sirloin, Bottom Sirloin, Beef Ribs, and Cowboy Ribeye with the bone in. For fish, we serve Chilean Sea Bass with a mango chutney, garlic shrimp, and pan-seared salmon.  We also serve Prime Lamb Steak, lamb chops, or leg of lamb, pork ribs, chicken leg in a brandy sauce, pork loin medallions, and pork picanha. We offer a variety of side dishes including garlic mashed potatoes, caramelized banana, and polenta.”

“And,” he said, gesturing toward the salad bar, “the salad bar is a great place to start. There, you’ll find kale & orange salad, great bean salad, chickpea salad, a seasonal soup, lentil quinoa, apple salad, roasted chicken salad, quinoa tabouleh, fresh greens of the season,  and classic salads made  from arugula, romaine, mixed greens, spinach, endive, and Bibb lettuce. There are also oven roasted black-pepper candied bacon with brown sugar, black pepper and red pepper flakes; cold-smoked salmon; and a variety of breads, rolls, and cut vegetables – carrots, broccoli, celery, eggplant.”

“And…”, our lead server pointed a little to the left, by a short distance separated from the salad bar, “here you’ll find a  traditional black bean stew with sausage served over white rice.”

We were stunned.  Silent for a moment…. and then we laughed, not quite sure where to begin. So many choices and decisions.  

As others looked at diners around the room in an effort to understand how the process worked, one of our group left and returned with a cup of the stew. “I think I’ll  just start with a little black  bean stew”, he said.

Sometimes, we see so many challenges or so many opportunities to improve our clients’ operations to the point that, if we share all of what we see and our products and services to address them, clients feel stunned – too many choices, too many changes, it’s just overwhelming. They throw up their hands, thank us for our ideas, and do nothing. 

Perhaps more effective to say, “We see a number of possible options and we think a good place to start would be with this small project” – something easy to say “yes” to and easy to implement –  that creates  close-at-hand payoff.  Like the black bean stew, a place to start and a foundation for a larger meal.

Nick Miller is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. He assists banks and credit unions to generate more and more profitable relationships, faster, with business clients, their owners, and their employees. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.

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