John Henry stopped his 1954 Ford tractor in the middle of the dusty field he was plowing. He killed the throttle, then the engine. Taking his worn pipe from his sweaty shirt pocket, he packed it with tobacco from the red Prince Albert tin he always carried, lit it, took a few quick puffs to fire it up, then looked around to size up the progress in plowing the ground for the coming planting season. Pleased, he took an old rag from the toolbox, removed his stained turtle shell hat, and wiped the sweat from his brow.
It was 1958 near the banks of the Little Hurricane Creek in the hot, humid region of rural southern Georgia and the local farmers were busy preparing for the coming season. John Henry was unexpectedly and suddenly widowed the prior year. She left him to raise alone their 6-year-old grandson. Economic crop failure was not an option and he had to keep moving.
As he dismounted from the tractor, slight pain shot through his left knee. His aging 5’4” body once again telegraphed a reminder that the years were swiftly passing. Maybe it was time to start planning for the time he would have to retire? Never mind about that now, he thought, as he began walking through the dusty field toward the old farmhouse. It was close to midday and he was looking forward to his lunch break with time to rest a bit before heading to town to purchase the tons of fertilizer he would need for the planting season. He did not own a television; did not want one. He was looking forward to enjoying his weekday noon radio broadcast.
He switched on the radio, sat down with his grandson to a plate of stewed farm raised vegetables, southern cornbread, beef, and as they say down south, iced sweet tea. A familiar voice boomed from the radio, “Hello Americans, this is Paul Harvey. Stand by for NEWS!” Paul always did provide a calming sense of peace in a world that had inflicted pain on John Henry’s heart not long ago.
After lunch, he gathered his grandson, mounted the pickup truck, and off to town they went. He parked on main street in front of the farm supply store. The store reflected the living conditions of the farmers. Hot, no air conditioning, a hint of mustiness in the air. The old wooden floor creaked and squeaked in all the right places in testament to its long history as he entered with his grandson.
From the rear of the store came a booming, happy voice, “Uncle Johnny!! How are you! Hot enough for ya’!? John Henry replied, “Revere, I tell ya’ if we don’t get some rain soon, I don’t know what we’re gonna’ do. I need some fertilizer delivered out to the house.”
John Henry’s grandson stood silently nearby taking it all in as his grandfather placed his order, negotiated the price, signed the ticket, and bid Revere good day until next time. On the way home the young grandson inquired of his grandfather as to the reason he dealt only with Revere at his farm supply store when there were two others in town with much cheaper prices.
“Well, son, cheapest ain’t always best price. When you see a man sitting on the curb of a street looking sad and broke, likely he was the low bidder. Revere is not the cheapest price, but his price reflects far more value than the price I pay. I do business with Revere because he knows his success depends on the success of us farmers. He does all he can to support and work with us. He is a man of his word, same as me, and we do business on a handshake. Besides, I feel like he’s my friend and I like him.”
Let that last thought sink in and keep it with you always. “. . . . I feel like he’s my friend and I like him.”
All marketing effort and expense is for naught if the prospective customer or client doesn’t like you. You will not close the deal if you don’t first establish rapport. When you wake up in the morning before your feet hit the floor, do whatever it is that works for you to get your attitude in a positive place in order to meet the opportunities of the day.
Meet a potential client, make a friend, be a friend, walk with that friend to close the deal!