No MBA Needed, Just Be Kind

19 Oct

It turns out all the most important elements of sales you learned in kindergarten, maybe even pre-school. That’s right, for all the brilliance of advertising, insight of research and heroics of sales force management, if we don’t remember to be kind, the rest doesn’t matter.

Case in point, Bill Taylor, co-founder of Fast Company magazine tells the powerful tale of his father shopping for a new car. A life-long Cadillac buyer, his father got a cold shoulder when he went to ask for a $1,000 discount that expired the day before. We’ve all heard this part before, rules are rules and the customer be damn.

But this story goes much further. Spurned by his beloved brand, Bill’s father went to check out the competition. Time and again the Buick dealer demonstrated common sense. While Bill’s father had the car for an extended test-drive he was rushed to the hospital. Again the dealer stepped up big.

As he was lying in his hospital bed, thinking about whatever it is we think about in these moments, he realized that the Buick Lacrosse was sitting in his garage! So he called the dealer from the hospital and asked how he could get the car back. “Don’t worry about the car,” he said. “Just get better.” And the next morning, what should arrive at the hospital but a lovely bouquet of flowers and a nice note from the Buick dealer!

So, consider this. Obviously the Buick dealer made the sale. But here you are reading about it (not to mention all the people who read it originally on the Havard Business Review Blog), shaking your head about the Cadillac dealer. How many other stories like this will you see? And how much investment in advertising goes out the window each time?

Ask yourself, why is it so hard for people to remember to Be Kind? Then think about what you’ve done to reiterate that lesson.

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