The Law of the Lunch
There are very few things in business that are as important as the business lunch, about which absolutely nothing can be found in textbooks, MBA programs, seminars or conferences. The business lunch is a respected institution, virtually mandatory, and universally conducted according to a fixed ritual.
He or she who does the inviting does the paying! Conversation starts and for a long while remains in the area of seemingly idle chatter (also known as “jibber – jabber” or “chit – chat”) about personal interests in recreational pursuits, entertainment media, family matters, and mutual acquaintances. And don’t forget children and grandchildren, the Super Bowl and March Madness, the weather (but stay clear of politics and religion). Business is finally and gradually crept up upon while carefully avoiding any implications that the lunch exists specifically to enhance the lunchee’s opinions about the lunchor and the lunchor’s assessment of the lunchee (do we like each other?).
The business lunch and its rituals are based on the established fact that important buying decisions are rarely made on price alone or only on technical support, customer service, delivery, technical specifications or vendor competence and reputation. The lunch exists to learn about things that aren’t said, to help to establish and strengthen relationships of personal trust and understanding, to create commercial friendships and compromises, to facilitate favors hoped for and favors given, to go beyond technicalities and legalities in getting and supporting some sort of sale.
So don’t disparage it or miss the opportunities they can present.