by Jeffrey Gitomer
Published: August 2,2004
I got a package in the mail last week.
It was small box from Fred Bowers, a sports memorabilia dealer in my hometown of Haddonfield, N.J. I’ve been in his store a few times, bought a few things, and we have become quasi-friends. I only see him every year or two, but we pick up where we left off each time I’m in the store.
Fred is a very friendly guy who is both knowledgeable about what he does, and loves what he does.
Back to the package. As I opened it I’m wondering what it was. I couldn’t remember if I had ordered something from him. Inside was an envelope and an old autographed baseball.
I still had no idea what this was.
I opened the envelope and found four photos with a letter. The gist of the letter was that he had a few things come into the store (photos attached) that he thought I might like to buy for my collection. He described each one in the letter and had put the prices for each item in red sharpie on each of the photos.
I looked at each one of the items and Fred was right. They fit into my collection. I’ll spare you the description, but they were photos and autographs of Philadelphia players.
In the letter Fred went on to say (here comes the close) that he had quoted me the “in-store” prices for these items, but that they could be tweaked a bit if I wanted them all. And that postage and shipping might be included in the offering as well.
He asked me to call him at my convenience. And he signed his name.
Pretty “so what” so far, eh?
There was a postscript. It read: As a courtesy, I’m including a pre-Whiz-Kids baseball (1948 to be exact) with the signatures of Puddin’ Head Jones, Bennie Bengough, Charles Bricknell, Del Ennis, Putsy Caballero, Jack Mayo, Bert Hass, Curt Simmons, Stan Lopata, Harry Walker and Schoolboy Rowe. Please accept this item with my complements!”
Oh. That’s different. Wow! That’s cool. I spent 10 minutes inspecting the ball and figuring out each signature. I kept checking back to the letter as I did. Four of the signers were players I collect (Simmons, Lopata, Ennis and Jones). They were players on the Phillies that I cheered for as a kid at the ball park — Connie Mack Stadium (named in the days before corporate sponsors, but after electricity).
But there was one signature on the ball that I coveted. Benny Bengough lived down the street from our house in Atlantic City. I had met him several times as a young (third grade) kid and got his autograph on a ball — but the ball was lost when we moved.
Benny was an old ball player who was a coach for the Phillies and had a 10 minute TV show right after each game. A jolly guy, he had his hey-day as a catcher in the 1930s (finally, something that happened BEFORE my time).
Benny’s TV show was a sort of an interview/commentary. Not too heavy. And Benny was not that great of a broadcaster. But he knew the game and the players, and he was “real.” The reason I remember the show was the way he ended it every time. He always smiled and said, “And as I always say, to be a big leaguer, think big league.”
Thirty years later I realized how powerful his words were. They rival any motivational speaker. They out-weigh some of the greatest thinkers of the day. You could easily hear Anthony Robbins or Donald Trump uttering them as though they had an original thought (they do, but not many).
Back to the package. I called Fred. We talked for a while. I told him how the ball impacted me. Not just because it was free, but because of the powerful thought-impact and memory it created. He thanked me for sharing the story. We became better friends. Fred was certainly living my philosophy of “give value first.” He said he would email me the final prices.
But that was just a formality to me. I had to buy the items he was selling!
Small random acts of kindness. Personal impact. Look at the power elements and the personalization that made that sale.
1. His store is in my hometown;
2. I like him — we talk the same language (Philly);
3. We’re about the same age;
4. I trust him;
5. It was a surprise;
6. It was about me not him;
7. His personalization tied in to what he was selling;
7.5 It hit me personally. Hard.
Fred will send more packages, he will tweak more prices. I will buy more stuff. This time he helped me maintain the thoughts and feelings of youth, and the wisdom of Benny Bengough, “To be a big leaguer, think big league.”
You might want to keep that thought in mind as you pursue your brass ring.
Free GitBit: I have a few pages of quotes underlined by the hand of John Patterson (Patterson Principles of Selling) taken from the book “He Can Who Thinks He Can” by Orison Swett Marden published in 1908. They are classic thoughts, and they’re yours by going to www.gitomer.com and put the word MARDEN in the GitBit box.
Jeffrey Gitomer, author of “The Sales Bible,” and “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless,” is president of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail
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