The Value of Thingamabobs

Military Service Medails My father has always been old... at least to me. He was about 50 when I was born and already pulling senior citizen discounts when my brothers were in braces (my teeth were perfect, by the way).

Having an older father had its advantages though. He had a lifetime of lessons to teach, one of which was how to hold the attention of an easily distracted audience. Sound like anyone you know? Your customers, perhaps?

My dad was a Presbyterian minister. After church, he liked to question my brothers and me to see if we had listened to his morning message – a tall order for rambunctious tweens. He wrangled us into his bedroom and while he traded his suit jacket for his Mr. Rogers sweater and slippers, he pulled tiny relics from his sock drawer. He had many, but our favorites were a silver football charm, his ruby-topped college ring, and his colorful military medals.

He placed them in our hands like papal jewels. Seated on the edge of his bed, we turned the treasures over and over in our hands, riveted to his voice. He told us the story of the objects and subtly wove in key points and questions from his sermon. We listened. We answered his questions. It was genius.

The lesson: During one-on-one meetings, occupy your customer’s hands and eyes with an unusual object and their ears are yours.

Here’s the winning hand of examples to captivate customers:

Ace of Hearts: Hand your customer a Rubik’s Cube solved, except for the last twist. After one turn, they’ll glance up to you as if to say, “Well, that was easy." Relate their experience to your sales message of simplicity.

King of Hearts: Buy a copy of the board game “Life." Pop out the distinctive spinner and bring it with you to customer meetings. They’ll start spinning it without prompting. Casually pose the question, “What outcome in your life would you not want left to a spin?" Their answer will help you bypass the small talk and reveal what matters to them. Consider it your “relationship spinner."

Queen of Hearts: Bring with you a small trophy from your past. It might be a varsity jacket pin, a first place medal, or a game ball. Briefly share the story of its importance to you. Then ask your customer about their most-prized award. Their answer will reveal one of their cherished accomplishments. With a bond established, ask about their current business goals and the accomplishments they’re pursuing.

Jack of Hearts: Go to and order 30 bucks worth of gourmet fortune cookies. (They even come chocolate-dipped with crushed Butterfingers®.) You can customize the fortune inside with a value message. With your customer’s hands and mouth full, their attention is all yours. Leave them a handful to share with others. You’ll be the talk of the office for days!

Ten of Hearts: Gift a thingamabob. Buy a $6 staple-less stapler that’s useful on anyone’s desk. (It slices and tucks the papers to join them together.) Bring a few white papers about your products and let your customer staple them together. While they ooh and ahhh, transition from the ingenious device to the innovative solutions you offer. The stapler is theirs to keep while the new customer is yours.

Maybe you have a thingamabob that works for you! Share it with me: