The old saying goes, “You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar,” and you can maximize the help your staff members give you to gain and retain customers simply by giving them the honey in the form of praise.
Although I was in charge of hiring employees, in the fall of 1980 dad informed me that as a favor for one of his friends he had given their son a job. The boy, although 19 years old, was not physically strong enough to handle the work we had available.
Bobby was one of those needy kind of people. He did not have a driver’s license, so we arranged to pick him up and take him home. He did not have work clothes, so we provided uniforms. He could only work certain hours, so we rearranged scheduling somewhat for him. And so on and so on.
Then one day he informed me he was quitting to go to work at the truck stop. It turned out that he was taking another job for less pay and less benefits, and had to hitchhike to work. When I asked him why, he said, “They are making me the assistant to the supervisor of diesel fuel pump #4.” The truck stop used titles as praise.
I find it neat how we discover the same life lessons over and over. I was in the 7th grade, about 4’8” and weighed 180 lbs. Not exactly the perfect body type for becoming a star basketball player. But that was what I was thinking was going to happen as I approached Mr. Thomas, the junior high basketball coach, to get an application to play basketball my eighth grade year. Mr. Thomas, who was also my junior high football coach, asked me, “Why do you want to go out for the basketball team?” I replied, “Because my friends are.” Mr. Thomas smiled and said, “You go up and talk to Mr. Englert, the high school wrestling coach. You will be a much better wrestler than a basketball player.”
I did as I was told. Climbed the steps to the third floor and entered Mr. Englert’s classroom. I told him what Mr. Thomas had said and he replied, “Bob, (He knew me because I was in his fourth period history class), we are glad to have you on our team. We are going to need a good heavyweight for the next few years.”
That short sentence, which I saw as praise, not only made me feel welcome, but also set the stage for my future success as a wrestler and successes in business and life. Throughout my high school wrestling career I continually saw and experienced coach Englert use praise to motivate my teammates and myself to success.
We all need help to gain and retain customers, to be more productive. The help is usually right in front of us - our fellow workers, other sales professionals and our sales support staff. The one who takes the time to use praise will be the one who gets the most support.
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