Beggars Can’t Be Choosers (Issue 965)

In which we are reminded that the longer we wait and the less we plan, the lower our influence over sales process outcomes.

To look crisp for a family event scheduled weeks ago, I needed a haircut by 5:00 pm last Wednesday. Feeling cautious about COVID-19 in close quarters, I had delayed my séance with the shears for almost four months and, week after week until bedtime last Tuesday evening, there was always something more urgent that I needed to do.

I have for years had my hair cut on my way to work; the neighborhood two-chair no-appointments barber shop opens at 6:00 am and I like to be there when it opens. Of the three barbers who work there, I particularly like Mark, a 50-year barber, a legend in the neighborhood. He usually opens the shop. I’m not fond of the other two barbers’ work. One is a middle-aged “medium” skilled cutter and the other – I’ve concluded he trained for years to cut human hair by shearing sheep.

Which brings us to last Wednesday morning. Facing the Wednesday evening deadline, I left the house at 5:50 am to see Mark at the shop at 6:00 am. Not there. I checked the shop hours window sign – no change: “Open 6 to 6”. I waited 15 minutes. No Mark. Another ten minutes. No Mark.

I felt torn. I had to go; I had early morning business calls. There were no other shops open at that hour and I had no interest in training another barber to cut my hair.

I came back at noon. Mark wasn’t there. Barbers 2 and 3 were working with clients and there were four people waiting. I went back to work. I returned to the shop at 4:00 pm. Mark wasn’t there. Barber 2 was busy and Mr. Sheep Shear had an open chair. I peered in, through the door. “We’re closing at 4:30 today,” he said. “You can wait for Bob; if he finishes in time, he can take you, but we’re closing at 4:30. I can take you now, if you’d like.”

Somewhere, the sheep are having a good laugh.

Freshly shorn Nick Miller trains banks and bankers to sell to small businesses. He is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.

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