When I was 12 years old Dad gave me the best Christmas gift a boy could ever get – a brand new top of the line BMX bike. Please read Dad’s recollection of the event from the book Secrets Of Closing The Sale found on pages 390 -391. Then, I will tell you the rest of the story.
Just Like the Little Boy Across the Street
I’ve never seen sincerity and integrity more on display than they were in a personal experience my son and I had several years ago. A few days before Christmas, Tom and I went down to get a new bicycle for him. Many years ago I could speak bicycle but today “bicycle” is an entirely different language. If you don’t believe me just listen to a teenager or go down to a bicycle shop and listen to the chit-chat which takes place.
On this occasion Tom and I went to a Schwinn Bicycle Shop in North Dallas. The owner was busy with a grandmother and her little grandson, who were looking at a bicycle. The grandmother didn’t speak bicycle either, so she had a precise list of exactly what she wanted on a specific bicycle, including the size. The owner of the shop looked at the list and said, “Yes, we have this bicycle and it comes in two sizes. Is the bicycle for this little fellow here?” The grandmother said, “Yes, it is. The little boy across the street has one like it and I want one exactly like his for my grandson.”
Owner: “Ma’am, your grandson is too small for this big bicycle and it will not be safe for him to ride. You should get him the other bicycle, which is identical in every way. It is the same price and quality but it is smaller, and your grandson can handle it much more easily. It will be at least three years before it will be safe for him to ride the larger bicycle.”
Grandmother: “No way. I want exactly the same bicycle the little boy across the street has. I want the very best for my grandson.” Again the owner tried to explain that it was the best, it was just smaller, and if her grandson were riding the larger bicycle he’d have to move so far from side to side he would be unable to control it. The owner patiently pointed out that her grandson could lose control and might fall and if he happened to be in the street, it could result in a very serious accident. The grandmother was adamant. “No sir, I want that bicycle, right there, exactly like the one the little boy across the street has. If I can’t have the one I want, I don’t want any.”
Then the owner did one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen a professional salesman do. It set the standard for what I consider the “professional” in the world of selling. He looked at that grandmother and said, “Ma’am, you’re probably going to think I’m crazy, but I cannot sell you the bicycle you want. It would not be safe for your grandson to ride, and if anything should ever happen to him because I sold you a bicycle he could not control, it would be on my conscience.” Incredibly enough, the grandmother left in a huff.
The “Integrity” Close
I hope you don’t think the owner carried his integrity too far, and deep down I don’t think anyone who is interested in building a sales career will feel that way.
Here’s a man who can be trusted. I would be willing to send my son into his shop with a check made out to him with the amount left blank. This man has integrity and he really does care about his customers. It’s true that the owner missed that sale, but as a direct result of “missing” that one, he has probably made countless others.
The Rest of the Story
I have thought about this Christmas gift many times over the last 30 years. But last year everything changed for me. I was listening to a series by John Eldredge, one of my favorite all time authors (John’s Blog), about how our Father (God) knows our heart and He wants the best for His children. That is when I realized that my Christmas gift was so much more than “just a bike.”
You see, Dad more than anything wanted to give me the perfect gift. Dad’s problem, as he explains it, was “I don’t speak bicycle.” So, in the natural sense, there was no way Dad could give me the perfect gift, unless of course, God knew his heart.
Dad says that “coincidence is just God’s way of staying anonymous.” And for most of my life I thought I was just a lucky boy who got an awesome bike because we just happened to wander into the bike store at just the right time.
Now I know different. God set the stage for that day. Not so I would get just the right bike, but so that Dad’s heart would know his son had the best bike. And so that 30 years later I would realize that God’s providence is in everything, even a bike.
P.S. The name of the bicycle shop was the Richardson Bike Mart, and it’s still there ( www.bikemart.com ). There is a pretty famous bike rider that came out of that store that you may have heard of by the name of Lance Armstrong. Coincidence? I think not.
If you want to listen to Dad tell this story, click here: