Customer Acquisition Specialist

We met a very interesting person tonight. We’ll just call him “Mike”. We couldn’t exactly come up with a good job description for Mike, so we made one up: Customer Acquisition Specialist.

In my opinion, Mike’s talents are being wasted.

Let me backtrack a little.

So we are walking the streets of Istanbul and at every restaurant there is a person standing next to the menu board waiting to try to get you to eat at their restaurant. I generally have no problems with just walking by and ignoring someone if I don’t want to interact with them. Meeta on the other hand, always replies when spoken to. So it takes us FOREVER to walk this small street lined with restaurant because every time I look back Meeta is engaged in some conversation with one of these guys. All of them that we saw were guys.

So we make our way through and I look back and Meeta is 40 feet back having a conversation with this one guy, Mike. I make my way back to see what was going on. I could tell that Meeta didn’t really want to eat there but for some reason felt like she NEEDED to eat there. We looked at the menu together and decided to pass on it because the veggie options didn’t look that good. We ended up eating somewhere else, but Meeta had this nagging feeling that she NEEDED to eat at Mike’s restaurant.

So tonight we went back there to “release the spell” that Mike create. That is the power of Mike.

Mike is one of those guys standing next to the menu board, but he’s good. Yes, he’s good.

During our meal, we witnessed Mike carry on conversations in 7 languages. We don’t know if he is fluent in all of them because we don’t know them ourselves, but he is certainly capable enough to carry on a very fast conversation to try to get the customer. Because Mike only has about 1.2 seconds to get someone to stop and listen to him.

It was fascinating to watch the dynamics between Mike and the people he is trying to engage. Some people quicken their pace to try to slide by while others wave him off like a pestering fly. Still others look down and almost run by as if he won’t see them if they don’t make eye contact.

Mike is a nice guy, he’s not obnoxious and not rude. He doesn’t take offense if you don’t talk to him and he doesn’t create a sour taste because he knows there is a chance you will come back around like we did.

Here are some of his tricks:

1. He uses “excuse me” to grab your attention. It’s a weird phenomenon with English speakers, perhaps Americans in particular. We are almost wired to stop and respond if someone says those two magical words. Even when I know someone is going to do it, I can’t help but look at them and respond. Yes, after a while you will learn to block it out and suppress that urge but it was fascinating to watch.

2. Mike is smooth. He’s a decent looking fellow but he is smooth with the ladies. I lost count of the number of times he was able to engage in conversation with younger women from around the world. He would kiss their hand, make them gush and giggle. Whole groups of them would stop and talk. He even knows how to make a rose out of a paper napkin in 2 seconds to try to close a deal. I’m not sure if Meeta got a rose or not the first time they talked.

3. Mike has a very unique way of obstructing your way without blocking your way. We had plenty of guys talk to us but Mike was by far the best at doing this. He would walk with you but in front of you, never making you feel like he was trying to stop you but always there with you as you walked. It was as if he glided on one of those people movers as you walked by.

4. Mike has an incredible memory. We remembers everyone he talks to and their conversation.

5. Mike has a great smile. And it’s genuine. Being able to watch him during diner, we could see that he loves talking to people. He never made a face after people walked by or grumbled. He just smiles.

Unfortunately for Mike, the food was not good. We ordered a pizza and it took forever. Then we saw a pizza delivery guy running into the kitchen and a minute later our pizza arrived at our table. Yes, they ordered delivery!

But Mike could do so much better. I’m not sure exactly what he should be doing, but certainly not standing by a menu board.