Know Your Best Of Everything

Yesterday I found myself in a store well-known to my generation for it’s ability to provide fantastic crockery when the emergency of moving home renders you, almost literally, potless.

Currently in an old-school state of culinary disarray, I noted that their display was more teas and coffees than I recall.  Baffled by how many different teas are now on offer, I asked the pair of servers at the till what their best selling tea was.

Unfortunately I crashed against the inevitable London problem in these situations of vendor and buyer not speaking the same language.  Luckily, a young chap appeared to say (without hesitation, in virtual RP) “English Breakfast”.  I then asked which flavoured tea was number one.  But this was a question too far .

I frequently ask this kind of question.  Years ago (1996 I think) I had an uncomfortable experience when arriving in a first-time meeting accompanying the top man of an exciting sales software house.  When we met the owner of the prospect, I was effectively introduced as the ideas-man.  The prospect then instantly quipped, “what’s been your best idea?”

I was momentarily flummoxed.  I thought I recovered to construct a well-argued description, but later in the car on the way home, we discussed it as part of our post-match analysis.   I realised that there were two ways of handling this question well in the future and resolved to never be rocked by it again; always have a prepared response to what my ‘best’ of anything could be for starters, but more importantly in this context, this is a question that deserves to be neutralised through a deft sidestep.

So from then on, I’ve regularly asked people what their ‘best’ is.  My findings are remarkable.  It is truly amazing how many shop assistants, for instance, cannot tell you what their best selling items are.  And on the rare occasions when they can, they cannot stretch to tell you the top 3.

Away from retail, when I’ve had people try to sell to me for my businesses, asking them who their best customer is, or what their best-selling product is, always throws them off course.  Which is a real shame, because if they could answer properly, the insight for me from knowing why these were the ‘best’, and the distinction it would bring to their cause, would be invaluable.

So, what’s your ‘best’ (and why)…?

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