Student of the Week: Rob Cesta of Drift Outfitters

When did you first know you were on the right path in your industry?
Smiles. Our customers returning to the shop with smiles on their faces and stories of the fish we helped them catch, or simply having a great day on the water because of our assistance to them.  Selling fly fishing gear to a customer and equipping them properly is one thing, but having them take time out of their day to come back and tell us about their experience is special. It shows we connected with the customer and created a bond.

What’s your favorite part of your job?
All of it. It may sound odd, but everything from paying bills to customer interactions makes my job (and career) great. The daily interaction with customers lets me, and us at the shop, grow with our clientele and learn from their experiences, so I’d have to say that this is the part of my job that I like the best. Having such a diverse clientele, we get to pick up knowledge from anglers who just came back from an exclusive destination in Costa Rica for monster tarpon, and then the next minute we hear from a local angler that he’s just found a new spot to catch fish 10 minutes away from the shop and see how incredibly excited he is about it; amazingly those two customer were just as exited as the other was with two totally different experiences. We get to share in their enthusiasm, their trips and their memories… that is truly the best part.

What’s the most valuable lesson you learned through Mann U?
Where to begin!? First, to get over my aversion to folding clothes. I’ve avoided it for years, and my bedroom and closet are evidence of that. Neatly presenting products in a uniform and approachable way leads to customers touching and handling garments. Once it’s in their hands hands there is a far better chance they’ll be leaving with it… after paying, hopefully! 😉

The second would be to tell a “story.” My sales reps had thrown the word around a lot, “a story,” “tell a story.” But I never really knew what it meant until I heard it from Dan. Build a story that your customers can relate to and flow with, one they can see themselves in and buy into.

Give us one pointer for developing a genuine relationship with your customers.
Care. Truly care about what you’re teaching, what you’re selling, and your customer’s experience with you now and after they leave. You need to believe in your customer and for them to believe in you.

Your bumper sticker would read, “I’d rather be… ___.”
Most would think it would be “I’d rather be fishing,” but “I’d rather be petting a dog” would be more accurate. I love those furry four-legged creatures, and they can lift up your day even when the fish aren’t biting.

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