I had been in sales for several years. My new job covered the entire United States. To gain new clients, I would call top buyers all over and start a conversation with them. After a few months, I was beginning to develop many powerful relationships. One of my favorite calls was to a buyer named Tom. He was in Texas. We talked almost every week.
I had several people I was talking with in Texas and thought it would be good to fly out and meet all these voices I had relationships with. Tom was the one I was most looking forward to meeting because I felt we had an amazing connection.
He was one of my first appointments and I knew this would be a great kickoff to a week long meeting marathon with over 20 people.
When I finally got to meet Tom face to face I almost jumped up and down with excitement. Tom was as cold as ice. He was frozen. His face was as withdrawn and lifeless. It was awkward.
We started the meeting and I began asking questions. I was receiving one word answers. With each answer I was becoming more and more uncomfortable. At one point I said, “You know Tom, if I came at a bad time, I can come back, I will be here all week and I can reschedule” He said, “That is okay. I am glad you are here”. His mechanical and robot response confused me even more.
At this point I could feel myself start to sweat as if I was being interrogated. I thought to myself “How do I get out of here?” I wanted to run out there as fast as I could. Somehow I held it together and finished the way you would if you were eating an unpleasant meal at a favorite relatives. I was hoping that my half smiles, sweating and being uncomfortable wasn’t too obvious.
Finally the meeting was over and Tom thanked me twice for being there. When I got to the car I started to replay the events in my head. “Had I met with the wrong person?” What in the world happened in there? Where do I go from here?
Then I could hear one of my mentor’s words in my head. No matter what, look for the lesson and ALWAYS, no matter how bad the meeting is, write a thank you card. I started to think about what I had learned.
Come to think about it. I had just gotten into a plane and flown in to meet a top buyer and didn’t even have an agenda. I thought about how the meeting might have went if I had asked those questions before I got there and then had an agenda. In fact, I thought about all my appointments and how much of a difference I could make with that simple strategy.
I wrote my thank card and it went something like this:
Thank you for one of the best meetings ever. You gave me such a powerful lesson today. I realized I could have really made an impact by having an agenda and sending my questions to you prior to the meeting. I want to let you know what an amazing difference you have made in my career with just that lesson. Each time we talk on the phone I seem to gain another valuable piece of information. Thank you so much for giving me so much. I am excited about working with you now and in the years to come.
In all honesty, when I sent the card, I wasn’t really sure what would happen. I had put a follow up call in my schedule for 3 weeks from the meeting.
2 weeks later, I was sitting in my office and my phone rang. It was Tom. He seemed more like himself. I immediately said, “Tom! What a great surprise.”
He said, “You know, I have been wanting to call you for the past two weeks to apologize. The appointment we set was the highlight of my week. Before you came, I was really looking forward to meeting you. When you showed up I had no idea that you would have eyes that look just like my son. You see, 3 months before you came here, my son committed suicide. It was all I could do to keep it together during our meeting. You remind me so much of him and just having you there gave me joy. I was so close to bursting into tears. When you left, I figured you would never want to speak to me again. Then, your thank you card arrived. I have read your card over and over again. The days that are particularly hard, I read it a few times. It has brought me such hope. Thank you.
As you can imagine, I was speechless. I could not speak through my tears. This experience taught me something so powerful that I will never forget:
You never know what is happening for another person or what they are going through.
Sometimes we get in such a hurry to make things happen, we forget to take the time to enjoy the process. Had I rushed through this or blown this appointment off, I may have missed out on making a difference in my life and Tom’s life.
By the way….
* The story is a true story.
* It happened to me……Sabrina Gibson
What lessons have you learned from your experience in life?
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