“Give people what they want, and they’ll give you what you want.”— Zig Ziglar
The law of adding value: Leaders who add value to people become great success stories whose reputations and heritages are remembered for years. Anyone can sell, but it takes a person who adds value to people to keep their trust long term. Business leaders trust people who can bring resources, advice and added value to the table. Great sales are the result of becoming a business growth expert to the customer.
Can We Be Frank?
I flew across the continent to attend a conference several years ago. My itinerary called for two stopovers heading to my destination. The first leg went normally, but as I boarded the second flight, I felt unusual.
Within minutes of takeoff, I felt sick and achy. An hour into the 4 1/2-hour flight, I felt like I was catching the flu (this was years before the pandemic). It got so bad, I spent most of the flight in one of the restrooms on the plane with a flight attendant periodically checking on me.
Once on the ground at my destination, I limped into the commuter train with my bag. At the downtown hotel, I struggled into the lobby and practically fell across the registration desk.
“Checking in?” the man asked with a grin. He could tell how bad I felt, but not why. “Yes, but not for long,” I whispered. “I think I’ve caught some ‘bug’ on the trip here and I am probably leaving on the first flight home tomorrow.”
“I’m so sorry,” he said. “My name is Frank. I will do everything I can to make your short stay as comfortable as I can.” He quickly checked me in and summoned a bellman to assist me and my luggage to the room. The bellman had to just about carry me with my bag.
Once in the room I fell onto the bed and laid there for about 20 minutes, catching my breath and still aching all over. Suddenly there was a knock at the door, and I found myself facing a smiling young woman in a hotel uniform carrying a tray. “My name is Erin. Frank said you aren’t feeling well, so we made you a bowl of vegetable beef soup, and I’ve brought some crackers, a Sprite and a mint. There is also a card that we all signed to help you feel better.”
I was speechless! “Now you eat all of that soup, Mr. Mathis, or you won’t feel better!” she scolded me as my mother would. I laid back down and became emotional. After a few minutes, I got up, sat down and ate the soup. Then I felt like taking a long, hot shower. Once out, I suddenly felt better. Dang, Erin was right!
I went downstairs to thank Frank, but he had gone off duty and wouldn’t be back until after I left. I felt he should know how much the gift, card and thoughts had meant to me.
I’m telling you this story because it happened 18 years ago and I still remember it in detail today. Frank made an impression on me (as did Erin, the bellman and the flight attendant). I tell it as often as I can.
Frank’s job was to register guests with a smile and make sure they had their room available. That’s it. It wasn’t his responsibility to order up free soup, send it up to my room or have everyone on the staff sign a get-well card. I wish we all could be like Frank.
I was so moved that I called the hotel chain’s customer service line when I got home and complimented Frank to the representative. She was impressed and assured me that she would pass my compliment to his manager and the hierarchy.
When someone adds value to your life, you should go out of your way to express gratitude. They usually aren’t looking for a compliment, but it might hit with the right person, and who knows the benefit, right?
Dottie & Danny
I once heard this story about a college student who studied hard to prepare for a final exam. When the exam was passed out, he noticed it consisted only of a single sheet of paper that was blank on both sides.
The professor got up and said, “I’ve taught you everything I can about business in the last 10 weeks, but the most important message — the most important question — is this: What’s the name of the lady who cleans this building?”
The class didn’t know the answer, and all failed the exam. Walt Bettinger, CEO of Charles Schwab, was the student. He was a senior with a perfect 4.0 grade point average prior to that fateful test. Remembering the day, Bettinger says, “Her name was Dottie. I had seen her, but I had never taken the time to ask her name.”
Walt could have been bitter about losing his perfect academic record in such a fashion, and I am sure he was disappointed. Instead, he chose to learn from the experience, stating, “It was the only test I ever failed, and I got the ‘B’ I deserved … I’ve tried to know every ‘Dottie’ I have worked with ever since.”
I tell this story in my keynote presentations, then ask attendees if they can remember the name of the desk clerk at the hotel they are staying in. Many have no idea.
Everyone is important and worthy of respect and value.
Any time you can do more to add value to other people, you will be enhanced in life. People will flock to salespeople who go out of their way to help and become a resource of other benefits outside of just the sales product.
Customers remember when a person adds value to relationships by going out of their way to assist them and notice details about them.
Tasked with leading sales and customer service training with a propane gas company a few years ago, I found myself in town a day early. I dropped by a couple of the company’s stores to do some in-person research. In one store, I met the receptionist and told her I was doing training for the company the next day. “You have to mention Danny in your talk tomorrow,” she said eagerly. I asked her why.
“Danny is our most requested service representative. People who need a service call or maintenance ask specifically for Danny.” She got more enthusiastic and said, “Danny means more to our business than anything else.”
I mentioned Danny the next day. The CEO had heard stories, but when he heard this, his reaction took everyone by surprise. “I’m rewarding Danny with a bonus!” he exclaimed. Anyone who adds that much value to customers should be recognized and rewarded.
How do you treat your “Dannys”? Are there people who add value to clients and your business who need to be singled out for excellence? What are you doing to encourage more employees like Danny in your own company?
Frankly My Dear …
Oh, about Frank. Ten months after my hotel experience, I came back to the city to do a keynote speech for a company. I had a break in the day, so I walked several blocks down the street to the hotel I had stayed in months earlier. I walked into the lobby and a woman greeted me and asked the cheerful, “Checking in?”
“No,” I said, “I’m looking for Frank.” She obviously didn’t get that question often and said, “Frank, who?” “Frank, the registration guy who works here,” I said. “There’s no one here by that name,” she answered me.
Did I dream that? Suddenly I felt alone and heard the “Twilight Zone” music playing in my head. I told her about staying at the hotel earlier that year. But then, it was like a light went on in her head. “Oh, you mean FRANK! He doesn’t work here any longer.” I turned to leave, downcast and disappointed. “Do you want to know where he is?” she asked.
“Sure,” I said.
She excitedly told me that Frank had been transferred to the hotel across the river about nine months earlier. “It happened suddenly,” she said. “One day the staff was called to a meeting and Frank was promoted to hotel manager at that other hotel. We were all pleased, because, you know, he’s a wonderful guy and deserved it. But it all happened very quickly.”
I knew why. As the famous radio host Paul Harvey used to say, “And now you know … the rest of the story.”
People like being treated with value.
People who add value to others become great success stories whose reputations are remembered for years. Add value to your team, your customers and your organization and watch the results roll in. Anyone can sell; it takes a value-adding professional to be remembered and be successful. Anyone can process a request; it takes a value-adding professional to go the extra mile and make someone’s day.
Are there other resources you could add to a customer or sale to keep the client coming back for more information, even if the resources aren’t in your job description or product warehouse? Can you become the one-stop resource to point people in the right direction to get their needs met? It will pay off for years to come.
I wish we could all be like Frank.