17. Accessibility

My friend Delbert died last month at the age of seventy-four. A native of Arlington, Texas, Delbert loved the Lone Star state. When he visited us in Augusta seven or eight years ago, he made me an “Honorary Citizen of the Empire of Texas,” and dignified me with a certificate and a state flag. Delbert was a lot of fun and one of easiest people you’d ever meet.


Delbert sold hardwood lumber for a living, and much of what he did involved calling prospective customers on the phone, trying to build relationships. Phone selling is a hard job, but Delbert had a great attitude, and he considered any one particular phone “rejection” to be just one step closer to getting an order. By keeping records of his phone calls Delbert calculated that on average it took twenty phone calls to make a sale. I remember calling him one morning just to see how he was doing:


          “Delbert, how’s it going?” I asked.  

          “Well, I’ve had ten rejections this morning already.”

          “Oh, I’m sorry. I hope that’s not getting you down.”

          “Why, of course not” he said. “That means I’m already half way to making a sale.”


There was one particular large prospective customer that Delbert tried calling time and time again. Knowing that he was a really big hardwood buyer, Delbert just wouldn’t give up. But he could never seem to get past his secretary who was obviously screening his calls. Knowing that he wasn’t going to get anywhere with the secretary, Delbert finally tried another tactic. He sent a dozen red roses to the man’s office with a card that read simply, “Love Delbert.”


It was early the next morning that Delbert himself received a call from the elusive man. Knowing that he had nothing to lose, Delbert was prepared to hear most anything that the man had to say.


“Hello thar,” said Delbert in his native Texan drawl. “I’ve been a lookin’ to get to meet you. You musta got those roses I sent.”

“I did,” said the man who sounded a bit ruffled. “And I’ll make a deal with you: if you promise never to send roses to my office again, I’ll promise to buy some lumber from you.”


Well, Delbert and this man quickly became good friends, and he made good on his promise by buying lumber from Delbert most every month from that point on.


Day 17 Guide


What have you got to lose? Don’t let the fear of rejection slow you down, my friend. Use the common human elements of love and laughter to open doors. Don’t look for quick results. But be steadfast and persistent in your efforts to succeed.  


© 2006, Levi Hill

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