An illustration of two people shaking hands.
The law of adding value: leading & selling with a higher purpose
by Jim Mathis

“Give people what they want, and they’ll give you what you want.”— Zig Ziglar

There is a law of adding value: Leaders who add value to people become great success stories whose reputations and heritages are remembered for years. Anyone can sell, but it takes a person who adds value to people to keep their trust. Business leaders trust people who can bring resources and advice and add value to the table. Great sales are the result of becoming a business growth expert to the customer.

Can We Be Frank?

I flew across the continent to attend a conference several years ago. My itinerary called for two stopovers heading to my destination. The first leg went smoothly, but as I boarded the second flight, I felt unusual. Within minutes of takeoff, I felt sick and achy. An hour into the 4½-hour-long flight, I felt like I was coming down with the flu. I spent most of the flight in one of the restrooms on the plane with a flight attendant periodically checking on me.

Once on the ground at my destination, I limped onto the commuter train with my bag. At a downtown hotel, I struggled into the lobby and practically fell across the registration desk.

“Checking in?” the man asked with a grin. He could tell how bad I felt, but not why. “Yes, but not for long,” I whispered. “I think I’ve caught some bug on the trip here and I am probably leaving on the first flight home tomorrow.”

“I’m so sorry,” he said. “My name is Frank. I will do everything I can to make your short stay as comfortable as I can.” He quickly checked me in and summoned a bellman to assist me and my luggage to the room. The bellman almost had to carry me along with my bag.

Once in the room, I collapsed onto the bed and stayed there for about 20 minutes catching my breath and aching all over. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door, and I found myself facing a smiling young woman in a hotel uniform carrying a tray.

“My name is Erin,” she said. “Frank said you aren’t feeling well, so we made you a bowl of vegetable beef soup, and I’ve brought some crackers, a Sprite and a mint. There is also a card that we all signed to help you feel better.”

I was speechless!

“Now you eat all of that soup, Mr. Mathis, or you won’t feel better!” she scolded as my mother would. I sat back down and became emotional. After a few minutes, I got up and ate the soup. After taking a long, hot shower, I felt better. Dang, Erin was right!

I went downstairs to thank Frank, but he had gone off duty and wouldn’t be back until after I left on Sunday. I felt he should know how much the gift, card and thoughts had meant to me.

I’m telling you this story because it happened 18 years ago and I still remember it in detail today. Frank made an impression on me (as did Erin, the bellman and the flight attendant). I tell it as often as I can.

Frank’s job was to register guests with a smile and make sure they had their room available. That’s it. It wasn’t his responsibility to order free soup, send it up to my room or have everyone on the staff sign a get-well card. I wish we all could be like Frank.

I was so moved that I called the hotel chain’s customer service line when I got home and complimented Frank to the representative. She was impressed and assured me that she would pass my compliment to his manager and others in
the hierarchy.

When someone adds value to your life, you should go out of your way to express gratitude. They usually aren’t looking for a compliment, but it might hit with the right person and who knows the benefit, right?

Dottie & Danny

Brent Espin relates a story about a college student who studied hard to prepare for a final exam. When the exam was passed out, it consisted only of a single sheet of paper that was blank on both sides.

The professor told the class, “I’ve taught you everything I can about business in the last 10 weeks, but the most important message and the most important question, is this: What’s the name of the woman who cleans this building?”

The class didn’t know the answer, and every student failed the exam. Walt Bettinger, CEO of Charles Schwab, was the student in the story—a senior with a 4.0 grade point average until that fateful test. Remembering the day, Bettinger says, “Her name was Dottie. I had seen her, but I had never taken the time to ask her name.”

Bettinger could have been bitter about losing his perfect academic record in such a fashion. Instead, he chose to learn from the experience, saying “It was the only test I ever failed, and I got the ‘B’ I deserved. … I’ve tried to know every ‘Dottie’ I have worked with ever since.”

I tell this story in keynote presentations, then ask attendees if they can remember the name of the desk clerk at the hotel they are staying in. Many have no idea.

Remember that everyone is important and worthy of respect and value.

Any time you can do more to add value to other people, you will be enhanced in life. People will flock to salespeople who go out of their way to help and become a resource outside of just the product being sold. Customers remember when a person adds value to relationships by going out of their way to assist them and notice details about them.

While leading sales and customer service training with a company a few years ago, I found myself in town a day early. I dropped by a couple of the organization’s stores to do some in-person research. In one of them, I met the receptionist and told her I was doing preparation for the company the next day. “You have to mention Danny in your talk tomorrow,” she told me eagerly. I asked why.

“Danny is our most requested service representative. People who need a service call or maintenance ask specifically for Danny.”

She got more enthusiastic and said, “Danny means more to our business than anything else.”

I mentioned Danny the next day. The CEO had heard stories, but when he heard this, his reaction took everyone by surprise. “I’m rewarding Danny with a bonus!” he exclaimed. Anyone who adds that much value to customers should be recognized and rewarded.

How do you treat your people who are like Danny? Are there team members who add value to clients and your business who need to be singled out for excellence? What are you doing to encourage more of them in your company?

Frankly My Dear …

Oh, and about Frank. Ten months after my hotel experience, I came back to the city to give a keynote speech. I had a break during the day, so I walked several blocks down the street to the hotel I had stayed in months earlier. I walked into the lobby and a woman greeted me and asked the cheerful, “Checking in?”

“No,” I said, “I’m looking for Frank.” She obviously didn’t get that question often and said, “Frank who?” “Frank, the registration guy who works here,” I said. “There’s no one here by that name,” she answered me.

Did I dream that? Suddenly I felt alone and heard the “Twilight Zone” music playing in my head. I told her about staying there earlier that year. But then, it was like a light went on in her head. “Oh, you mean FRANK! He doesn’t work here any longer.” I turned to leave, downcast and disappointed. “Do you want to know where he is?” she asked.

“Sure,” I said.

She excitedly told me that Frank had been transferred to the hotel across the river about nine months earlier. “It happened suddenly,” she said. “One day the staff was called to a meeting and Frank was promoted to hotel manager at that other hotel. We were all pleased, because, you know, he’s a wonderful guy and deserved it. But it happened very quickly.”

I knew why. As the famous radio host Paul Harvey used to say, “And now you know the rest of the story.”

People like being treated with value.People who add value to others become great success stories whose reputations are remembered for years. Add value to your team, your customers, your organization, your clients and watch the results roll in. Anyone can sell; it takes a value-adding professional to be remembered and be successful. Anyone can process a request; it takes a value-adding professional to go the “extra mile” and make someone’s day.

Are there other resources you could add to a customer or sale to keep the client coming back for more information, even if the resources aren’t in your job description or on your shelves? Can you become the one-stop resource to point people in the right direction to get their needs met? It will pay off for years to come.

I wish we could all be like Frank.

Jim Mathis, is “The Reinvention PRO,” an International Platform Certified Speaker (IPCS), Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), Certified John Maxwell Team Speaker & Trainer (CSJMT) and best-selling author of “Reinvention Made Easy: Change Your Strategy, Change Your Results.” For more information on how Mathis and his programs can benefit your organization or group, call (404) 922-8199 or visit