Before I became a BDR, I worked as a bartender and server for six years. Learning to roll silverware effectively, break down a draft faucet or memorize an allergen resource might not have direct corollaries in the sales world, but the soft skills that successful employees in the service industry learn and develop from their experiences can be a tremendous asset. The most significant advantage I felt my experiences in the service industry gave me in my new role as a BDR was the thousands of hours spent in conversation with customers, during which I learned how to talk to people from many different walks of life.

“Good service” has a different meaning and criteria set for each customer; some people want to engage with you and welcome conversation; others want unobtrusive and efficient service. Good servers have a default effect and set of operations that lie between those extremes of customer preference. They greet a table, then tailor their approach after inferring the service preferences of each group of customers. From experience and training, they know what “good service” means to each customer and how to maximize their tip.

Effective sales personnel have to perform similar value judgments every time they engage with new customers: some prospects want warm conversation before diving into the details of a service or product, others want just the opposite and demand a concise “hook” of information before they’ll open up and converse. Using training and their experience as a lens through which they can view customers and adjust their approach, the best reps can service a range of personalities and role profiles. To an experienced server making the transition to sales, the process of finding a default approach and adjusting to the prospect in a sales context is roughly analogous to what they’ve been doing every time they greet a new customer.  The same instincts and insights they’ve developed from those situations will serve them just as well in sales conversations.

I’m far from atypical at Reveneer. There are many BDRs here who cut their teeth in the service industry. If you’re having a hard time knowing where to recruit your future sales rockstars, take a closer look at the best servers at your favorite restaurant.