How Not to Pick Up a Girl at the Gas Station

All I wanted was windshield washer fluid. But I got a show, too. Yesterday, I walked into the convenience store at a gas station near my apartment. I grabbed a bottle, made sure it was good to -20 degrees, and got in line. I normally don't pay attention to anything while I'm in line. I'm admittedly dazed and confused. Yesterday was different.

"Seriously, if you want to come over and drink a couple of beers, you're more than welcome to. I don't know what you're up to tonight, but my buddies and I - my roommates - will be drinking if you want to come. I have a pool table."

I was witnessing a guy trying to pick up a girl - the cashier, nonetheless - in a gas station. The female cashier, who couldn't have been older than 20, glanced down and smirked. (This was in front of another cashier and three other people waiting in line) This guy was failing - hard.

But, what was it? Was it his jeans with large embroidered M's on the back pockets, his wallet connected to a chain in his front pocket, his backwards hat with flat brim, or his fake leather jacket. I couldn't decide which.

"I'll even tell you where I live", he said. "You know where the mini golf course is over there (as he points)? There's a white house right after it. I live in the white house."

He knew he had to leave because, well, I needed windshield washer fluid. The male cashier turns to his co-workers and says "Another guy trying to sweep you off your feet. I think it all went downhill when he said he had a pool table." All of us laughed. Then the female cashier said:

"I just couldn't get the courage to tell him I was going home to my boyfriend tonight."

I chuckled, took my change, and left. "At least it was fun to watch," I said as I walked out the door.

Getting beyond the fact that this guy had horrible skills, this interaction made me reflect on choosing the right customer, finding out their needs, and communicating in a such a way that they fall for your value proposition. Here's how he could have improved his gas station dating escapades:

1. Don't ask for the sale upfront

This guy, out of nowhere asked the cashier to come over to his house. No dates, no prior communication. In business, work to understand your customer before you ask for anything.

2. Provide something of value

He offered to have her come over and drink. That activity clearly did not communicate enough value for her to go over to his house. Think about what you're proposing. Is there enough value? Think about changing your incentive to see if it works better.

3. Remove all sources of anxiety

All I can think of is "Under Pressure" by David Bowie. Not only was it close to rush hour, but he asked her in front of another co-worker and several customers. This creates a lot of anxiety for the cashier. Remove all the pressure. Go in when you know your customer is relaxed and doesn't have too many distractions.

4. Nurture the relationship

Do you just waltz into a potential client's business and start randomly pitching products? I hope not. Work on talking to her over several weeks to build up rapport and trust, then you have a small foundation to act on. Just keep in mind relationships with clients - and significant others - take time to build.

5. Go in with confidence

Know what you want. This guy may have gone into the convenience store with too much confidence. Be confident in what you're talking about and offering. If you waver, you've got nothing.

So, it is possible. You can pretty much relate any experience in life to making a business decision. In the end, this guy failed miserably. But, he had some critical missteps, not mention less game than Monopoly.

When you're talking with prospects and you're trying to get them to buy from you, don't be the guy at the gas station. He did not have the winning numbers. But, it shouldn't stop you from continuing to play the lottery.