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    Mondays with Mac: Belief Fuels Enthusiasm

    August 4, 2008 2463 Views

    In 1972 I had just accepted a position as vice president of sales for Orval Kent Food Company, a small enterprise that manufactured fresh-prepared salad products selling to delicatessens and restaurants. I had come on board to hire and train new sales people, but I knew absolutely nothing about the salad business. So Sid Caisman, who had spent most of his career selling to delicatessens, was assigned to show me the ropes. Sid was a pro, and he loved what he did.

    I'd been there about two weeks when Sid came in smiling ear to ear. He said, "Mac, I've been trying to get an appointment with this large grocery chain for over two years and I finally have it next Friday. Do you want to go with me?" My response: "You bet I do!"

    The big day arrived, and on our way out we picked up our refrigerated samples. When we arrived at their corporate headquarters I could tell Sid was pumped. The buyer came out and introduced himself, and we followed him back to his office. We sat down and he looked across his desk at Sid and asked, "What makes you think your product is any better than your competitors?"

    That was Sid's cue to perform. He began to tell the buyer about why our potato salad was superior to anything on the market. He went into great detail about the quality, the fresh-diced vegetables, our special dressing and our stat of the art manufacturing plant. Then he said, "And I've saved the best for last…you're going to love how it tastes!"

    With great fanfare, Sid popped open the lid of the sample container, and I couldn't believe it. Sitting right on top was a large, black, rotten potato about the size of a quarter. But Sid, seeing the potato before the buyer did, reached down and popped it in his mouth and said, "Bob, I just can't get enough of this stuff!" And to my surprise the buyer also reached down, grabbed some salad, and said "Sid, you're right. It tastes great."

    It was a powerful moment. I had just witnessed a sophisticated buyer eating potato salad with his fingers and he didn't even know it! And it was all for one reason…Sid's unbridled enthusiasm.

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