How To Avoid Being an HR ( and Customer) Nightmare


Am I an HR Nightmare? You decide. 

Imagine that you and I just ran into each other in the street.  We’ve never met before. 

I smile and ask, “Excuse me Miss, may I take your hand?” or I smile and ask “You are simply gorgeous, have you ever been a model?” or I smile and I ask “Your place or mine?”

Well?  Am I an HR Nightmare?

Before real HR personnel here race down the hall and escort me out of this building, let me explain why I ask.    There is a lesson here. 

First I understand a majority of you (OK, all of you), would have been appalled and/or frightened if any of the vignettes really happened.   “Hell no!”,   “Get away from me!” and “Police!!” would likely be the vitriol lobbied at me.   

But let’s change the vignettes just a wee bit.


Imagine that you and I just ran into each other in the street.  We’ve never met before.

I smile and say “Excuse me, I am a doctor and you don’t look well, may I take your hand?” or I smile and say “I am with Martin & Stevens modeling right here in Boston.  You are gorgeous, have you ever been a model?”  Or I smile and say “I am Detective McCarthy with Boston PD and I need to ask you a few questions – your place or mine?”



You get it now.  Makes a little more sense. 

But while I may not be a true HR nightmare; some of us are Customer or Prospect Nightmares.

Within moments of meeting customers or prospects, whether they call us or we call on them, some of us ask questions we have not yet earned the right to ask.   We ask questions like “How’s business?” or “How do you market your business?” or “What challenges do you face?”  Or “What are the goals?”   

And shockingly we often don’t take the time to drop the necessary credibility first.  We never proclaim our being a doctor, an agent or a police officer so to speak and hence we create a whole lot of tension, confusion or even anger.

Tension, confusion or anger by the way, stops the sales process dead in its tracks. 

In a perfect sales world we have the credibility, trust and time already invested and would be able to ask these questions without worry of how a customer or prospect might feel or respond.

But we don’t live in a perfect sales world and yet still need information from our clients.  So when that phone rings or we make that cold call we ask and ask away, sometimes to our detriment. 

Here is a surefire simple way to avoid being a Customer Nightmare (Sorry really can’t help you if you are an HR Nightmare) and improve your chances of getting good questions answered.

  • Preface It:  If you want to ask “How’s business going?” of a small business owner seconds after meeting them – Preface It with “I’m hearing a lot of things from my retailers lately, but how’s business going with you?”  Here your experience with other like customers (retailers) earns you street cred and reduces risk of posing a question that might be considered an affront so early on.    It also piques interest that you may know something of value; which can help you avoid getting booted out the door or off the phone sooner than you’d like.


Preface It is a simple formula:  Any variation of Your Experience + Teaser + Customer’s line of business = one heck of an assist to get a good question answered.

Have at it. 

(Next time, I’ll share another tip you can button right on to this one that will greatly enhance your effort to discover well with your customers and prospects).

Till next time,

Grow The Business.



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