Ladies and Gentlemen, I’d like to to tell you a little story about two cigar reps. Actually, it isn’t much in the way of a story – I just need a lead-in to a question and I’m very interested in your input on the matter. Anyway, back to the point…
I’d like you to take a moment and imagine yourself standing in your local cigar shop. Yourself and a couple of the shop regulars are standing around the cash register talking to the owner of this fine establishment. The aroma of well-blended cigars fills the air as a cloud of smoke slowly collects above your heads. Someone cracks a crude joke and you all laugh.
At this point in the story the front door opens and in walks a cigar rep. The product they represent is unimportant, all that matters is that they have a smile on their face and immediately introduce themselves.
Before long, the cigar rep has been drawn into the conversation and everyone is enjoying themselves. Topics change from the weather, to sports, to cigars, with a couple more crude jokes thrown in here and there.
Where there is a lull in the conversation, the rep offers a cigar to each of the guys. The rep does his best to select a cigar from his lineup that each individual might enjoy. “Oh, you like full bodied cigars – I have the one for you right here!” “So you like milder cigars, I don’t have one but you might enjoy this one. It is on the lower end of the medium range.”
Eventually everyone moves away from the cash register and finds a seat. With samples lit, a mini-focus group develops and conversation ensues.
The front door opens again. In walks another cigar rep. This rep also has a smile on their face. He walks over to the cash register and speaks with the shop owner for a few minutes before joining the other rep and the patrons in the lounge.
Not a single word is said to any of the patrons. Instead, the new rep sits down with the previous rep and the two of them hold a private conversation. As time stretches on there is an uncomfortable vibe in the room as the two reps talk amongst themselves. Nearly an hour goes by before patrons begin saying their goodbyes.
The purpose of this little story isn’t to praise one rep or bash another. I’d like to use it as an opportunity to have a little discussion. The topic being this – What are a Cigar Rep’s obligations to the patrons in a cigar shop?
Do we now live in a world where we feel entitled to a Rep’s time and a free sample? Does a cigar rep being cold to a customer hurt their brand in any way? Does the rep have any obligations whatsoever to the customers of a given shop?