What I love about the English language is that there are a variety of interpretations of even the simplest questions. This weeks article is a tale of two vastly different experiences I had with this simple question.




Even though the flashing neon sign says you are open, the attitudes of the people inside reveal the true answer to the question.

I stopped by a camera store to get a couple prints made. After waiting for the clerk to finish his phone call, I asked “Are you open?” Meaning, ‘will you help me with my order?’ I was rudely directed to a computer kiosk, and after fumbling through the process of placing my order, was told that the particular store has a strict policy of printing orders on a 24-hour turnaround. When I politely explained that the prints were to be across the country tomorrow, his only suggestion was to visit their other location across town, as they might not have as much demand as he did. When I asked if he would call to make the arrangements, he simply gave me their number, and confirmed that I wanted him to cancel my order with him before returning to his other tasks.

I called the other store as I walked back to my car and was told that it would only be a matter of minutes to fulfill my order. Even though it was less than $2.00, they were indeed open for my business.

As I drove across town, I answered the call from a client who wanted to tell me she found a page of notes from her father’s career in insurance sales that helped make him very successful. The note read. “After listening to the situation and needs of your prospect; ask them, ‘Are you open for my recommendation?’ then wait and respond to their answer accordingly.” She was calling to ask if I thought it would be appropriate to be incorporated into her sales process – the note was dated nearly 30 years ago.

Rather than answering, I relayed the story I was living and she decided it would be a great way to honor both her father, and her customers to always ask, “Are you open to my recommendation”.

Are you open to new ideas; to fully understanding the needs of your customers; to asking better questions?