by Jim Hinshaw

Those words echoed across the sales floor at the Northern Colorado motor sports shop my son Jon is GSM at.  Jon heard those words followed by the loud thump of heavy shoes stamping on the concrete floor.  He remembered those words and boot stampings, but it had been from a life past, a couple of decades earlier.  Next, he heard his name called out, loud enough to be heard across the highway: Jonathan Hinshaw!  He jumped up and walked out to the floor to see 3 Marines standing at full attention, in dress blues.  Jon said, I am Jon Hinshaw…


They proceeded to hand him a box with all sorts of Marine Corps swag, keychains, bumper stickers, decals.  The lead Marine said “we want you to know, no matter who the President is, we are here for you.  No one is forgotten”.  Jon thanked them, followed them out into the parking lot.  How did you find me, he asked?  We have our ways they replied.


Later on, one of the sales reps told Jon if he remembered a sale to a retired Marine that went bad.  Not that it happens often, but this one went really bad.  Not only was it a $40,000+ side by side, it was the wrong vehicle.  The guy got it home, 200 miles away, and it would not do what it was supposed to do (electronic shocks).  He called, the salesman tried to tell him it was the right ride, he just did not know how to make it work.  After viewing a couple of videos, they all decided he was right, wrong side by side.  Jon had to step in, told the Marine that he would make it up.  He then called the rep, he said they would have one in the next month.  Jon called the customer, let him know he had one coming into his shop in about 3 weeks.  What the rep did not say was that the unit would be made in 3 weeks but would need another 30 days in shipping.  So, Jon had to call the Marine back, give the bad news.  The guy goes off the rails, using some Marine language on Jon.  Jon listened to him dump his bucket, then clearly said: Stand Down!  The guy stopped the rant, said ya got 72 hours, get the ride you sold me.


Jon found one on the west coast, had to trade a couple of really popular rides for it, but got it in his doors in the 72 hours.  Called the Marine out, come down and see your ride.  His response: what sort of a discount do I get for the grief you caused me?  Jon had the best answer ever.  I am not going to BUY your respect; I will EARN it.  He came in on a Saturday, around 10 am.  They had not even opened the crate yet, had a real unveiling experience.  Jon took him around the building, showing him how they would put it all together right in front of him, took about 5 hours.  During that time, Jon introduced him to all the players in the building, the guy that does LED lighting, another guy who installs high end sound systems, several people involved.


End result, the Marine bought an additional $4000 worth of lights, sound system, etc.  on top of the $40,000 ride.  At the end of the day, Jon asked him again, how far did you travel to get here, both ways.  The Marine answered, 400 miles.  Jon said, I will give you a $400 discount off the already agreed to price for your trouble.  He was thrilled, took all the guys for a ride over the fields nearby, he rocked that ride.


Jon remembered the Marine and he had told him then he respected his service, and they had a common bond: no man left behind, which Jon translated into I will do whatever it takes to fix this sale.  And he did.  Turns out the Marine was a retired Lt Colonel, and has influence today, sent over a group of Marines that made a massive impression on the store and in Jon’s life.


My point is this.  It started with a job gone bad.  In sales the saying is, not IF you have a job gone bad, but WHEN.  No matter what industry you are in, vehicle sales, remodeling, heating and air, plumbing, we can all relate to those sales that did not go as well as we wanted.   Take car sales, a very demanding job where your people skills are tested daily.  You are selling a commodity, made in a factory, and if your dealership does not have the purple Tahoe your customer wants, you can find it at another dealership and take it right off their lot.  For decades a name that is famous in the car sales arena is Joe Girard.  According to the Guinness Book of World Records, he was recognized as the king of car sales.  He was awarded that title in 1973 for selling 1425 cars in one year.  Yes, you read that right, almost 6 a day.  That title was his for 40 years, he is now 89 years old.  Joe used to tell his customers, I hope I sell you a lemon, then you will see just how good I am.


I am confident that none of us really want to sell a project or product that doesn’t do what the customer wanted and paid for, but it happens.  Call it human error, whatever.  The true mark of a professional is what they do when things don’t go as advertised.  Jon had to get involved in a sale he didn’t make, get the factory involved, his parts department, and handle the customer who was frustrated and used to getting things done right (as in Marine Right!).  He did.  So, when you are in the middle of the struggle, remember that someone is watching everything you do.  Make the extra effort, continue thru the mess and get a customer for life.