My father was a veteran of World War I and he passed away back in 1977. While he was here, however, he taught me a lot of valuable lessons.
Incidentally, we didn't have a phone when I was growing up and didn't have an indoor bathroom until I was almost out of high school. My father was considerably older than my mother and before he met her around 1935, he had a most unusual occupation. He owned a good horse and he would ride out through the countryside and buy cattle and hogs from farmers and then drive them to the closest railhead and load them on the train.
At this point, he would get on the train and ride with them to Kansas City, where large stockyards were located and sell them to buyers who were there. Most of the livestock would then become a part of our nation's meat supply.
His income was derived from the profit, which is the difference between the amount of money that it took to buy the livestock and what he was able to sell them for. He told me that this was really an art because when you buy livestock on the "hoof" you had to be a pretty good judge of quality and what an animal weighed. That’s because this would determine what it would bring at the stockyards. If you paid too much, obviously you could lose your shirt.
Because of his occupation, my father's nickname was "Cowboy." When I was growing up in a small community in southern Arkansas, everybody called my father Cowboy and quite naturally some of the kids in our town would call me Cowboy, too.
I was a pretty fair basketball player and one night we were playing a team from a nearby community.
It was a close game and along about the third quarter, I was guarding an opposing player and he faked me so well that I leaped high in the air and when I came down, I landed on his back. On cue, someone up in the stands yelled, "Ride him, Cowboy!"
I'll never forget it.
Here is that valuable lesson my father taught me and it may be of value to you as well, if you don't already do it.
My father said as he traveled around buying livestock, occasionally he would run into someone with whom he could not trade. This is to be expected because of human nature. We tend to place value on our possessions for many different reasons, but when it becomes emotional, in most cases reason and logic are out the window. In situations like this, how many times do you suppose a potential buyer kept on talking, maybe running down the other person's property, until he got mad?
That's the lesson my father taught me to avoid. He said, "When you strike someone you cannot trade with, don't make him mad, just go on down the road because there is someone down there that you can trade with."
This simple lesson has been a tremendous help to me over the years. I've been in sales now for almost 40 years. I always remember that to be successful, we all have to sell ourselves, if not a product or service. Over the years, as I have sold or marketed various products and services, I have encountered thousands of people that I could not do business with, and I have very carefully tried to avoid making them mad. There is no future in that.
Sometimes people in sales fail to realize that when a person says “no” they are not putting us down personally. These people are simply saying that they have no interest or need for our product or service, at least not now. The last part of the previous sentence is really the key to success in selling, because we should never close the door where we cannot go back. We should not make people mad, but rather make them feel good because they are making the decision they feel is best for them.
For example, I have many, many friends in the newspaper industry and they give me leads and have even called other publishers for me regarding the merits of this column.
However, there are times when I strike someone that I cannot do business with. When this happens, I always try to leave them in a frame of mind where I can call them back later. This has proven very profitable because you may be reading this column in a newspaper that came on line because I was nice to your publisher or editor and did not make them mad when they were not interested the first time I called.
Things change. Many times new people come along and they are wonderful to do business with. Have convictions about what you do, but don't ever make other people mad. Be nice to everyone.
(Editor’s Note: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. He may be contacted at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway AR 72034.)