My Dad and Me - Circa 1961ish

My Dad and Me – Circa 1961ish

Are general stores a thing of the past?

One of my favorite memories of growing up as a boy in North Georgia revolves around a period of time when we lived next door to Johnson’s Grocery. It was a small store of less than 1,000 square feet and was so close that I would often walk over in my bare feet to do my “shopping”. The man that owned the store was always very nice. I would come in, pick out my “Animal Crackers” and walk up to the counter. I would then give Mr. Johnson the coin that my dad gave me to buy my treat. He would smile, put my Animal Crackers into a tiny brown paper sack and then select a single piece of “penny candy” from the counter. As he added the candy to the bag, he would say, “How about a little extra that makes it mo-better?”

There is a Cajun term I like to use – lagniappe (pronounced “lon – yop”). A loose definition would be giving or paying a little more than is expected or required. I prefer to use Mr. Johnson’s verbiage. I refer to lagniappe as that little extra that makes everything mo-better.

Many less than successful sales people – and many less than successful companies think that the stars of their industry must be vastly better at everything they do. They assume that there is a large gap between their personal efforts and skill sets versus those of their competition. As a result, they often accept their current status as being beyond their control and they never give the extra effort needed to become great.

They are mistaken.

Most of the time, the difference in the methodologies used and value given by the great is not drastically superior to that of the mediocre. Instead, the difference is small – they give the lagniappe; but they give the lagniappe in many areas of their business.

The superstar sales person doesn’t always make drastically more calls than other sales people. Sometimes it is only a few extra calls, but they make those calls every day without fail. Sometimes the superstar makes no more calls than their competitors! But they find ways to add value and give the lagniappe in their prospecting process so that their potential new client is already receiving value from them even before they give them any business at all.

The superstar sales person is a little better in the sales process. They are a little better at the sales conversations; a little better at asking the right questions; a little better at listening and discovering where the client will benefit the greatest from the relationship; and they are a little better at closing and handling objections.

Lagniappe – moves you from good to great.

Superstar companies are also experts in lagniappe. Though I have retired from Aflac, I have always been proud of the company. They are experts in lagniappe. They pay claims a few days faster; they pay out a little more on the dollar in claims than their competitors; they send out reminders to their policyholders that they may be due money from their policy – that’s lagniappe.

One of the best examples of a business in which the owners are experts in lagniappe is my favorite restaurant in Houston – The Redfish Seafood Grill. This place has the best sushi in the area – hands down! They also have some amazing cooked dishes that would rival any five-star restaurant that I have visited. The quality and the portions give value that greatly exceeds the price you pay. That alone would be enough lagniappe for them to dominate their competition. But they go even further. The owners, David and Rolita, are two of the nicest people I know. While David is normally behind the scenes in the kitchen, Rolita is the hostess extraordinaire. She walks around and visits with each customer. She gets to know you by name. It is not at all unusual for her to bring something new out for you to try.

David and Rolita give much more in value than you pay as a customer. They do the little extra things that bring you back time and time again. If you are ever in Houston, look them up or email me for their location. I may even meet you there.

Lagniappe – get a little better.

Questions: Post your answers – I look forward to reading them.

  1. Sales people: how can you provide lagniappe to your prospects that will give them value from you even before they become your customer?
  2. Once you have a client, how can you give lagniappe to them to insure they are getting more than they are actually paying for?