While basically an historical footnote at this point, the 3 martini lunch is emblematic of the period in the 1950s, 60s and 70s when businessmen would regularly imbibe during the work day. The practice actually has historical significance including shout-outs from presidents and presidential candidates.

Now I’m not sure I could have survived as a sales executive in this time period. The flannel suits, fedoras, and even the leisure suits would have been no problem for me, but the drinking and smoking during the workday would have killed me (perhaps literally).

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my spirits — a good cocktail, a bottle of Pinot, craft beer, bourbon or tequila shots. Come to think of it, there aren’t many drinks served at a bar that I don’t enjoy. But they are not exactly my secret weapon for productivity. Had I been in sales circa the “Mad Men” era you would likely have regularly found me sleeping under my desk or wandering the office aimlessly with a painful hangover.

So why am I calling for the return of the 3 martini lunch? Well, I want what I suspect went along with it, but without the alcohol involved.

Think about it, if you and your customers were spending big blocks of time together with your inhibitions lowered, what might have happened? Hey! Get your mind out of the gutter! I’m talking about the period of time before the entire thing spun out of control and devolved into questionable decision making and debauchery.

  1. Your customers would tell you what really is on their mind. They would openly share with you their biggest concerns for their business, what “keeps them up at night”

  2. You might stop selling and start listening.

  3. You might spend more time looking for ways to truly help one another achieve your objectives, mutually finding more win-wins and diminishing the transactional vendor/customer dynamic.

At Compile, we strive for the above in a variety of ways:

  • We deliver sales leads to our customers that focus on diagnosing the needs of their prospects. This ensures that every conversation, including their first one with the prospect is relevant, and shows a thoughtful listening is at play from the very beginning.

  • In our relationships with our own customers at Compile, we make a concerted effort to understand the larger context of their marketing and sales objectives and look for ways, either directly through our service or otherwise, to add value to their critical paths.

  • We endeavor in our marketing and sales, to be honest about our products, where they fit and their strengths and weaknesses. We would rather have long term relationships with relatively fewer of the right customers where we can truly impact their organization in a major way, than more of the wrong with the wrong expectations and alignment.

So, while you likely won’t find me stumbling out of a restaurant on a Tuesday afternoon, I’m convinced there are elements of the 3 martini lunch that are highly relevant for your sales and marketing teams. Just count me out for the hangover.