About a year ago I had the opportunity to hear Maria Miranda speak
about her relationship with her father, Hank H.J. Miranda, and how his
sound advice on the art and heart of salesmanship affected her life and
work. Maria is the owner of Miranda Creative, a Norwich-based
marketing and advertising firm.
I listened to Maria’s story, trying not to cry, because in many
ways, the story I heard paralleled my own. I too was greatly
influenced, both personally and professionally, by my father. So many
women I talk with share how their mothers have influenced their lives.
I’m sad to say that mine was not a good role model. It was my father
with whom I was close and it was from him that I learned the most, even
though he had to learn the hard way.
My Dad had his demons, like we all do. He was forced into a
marriage he didn’t want, and was stifled from following his passion –
music. He developed a drinking problem and would sometimes disappear
for days during the first few years of my life. He eventually managed
to overcome his pain and make something of his life. I was eight years
old when this happened and from his courageous transition, I learned
early that no matter what pain you suffer in life, you can find the
strength to overcome it and thrive.
It was around that time that he found a way to pursue his love of
music on the weekends. But by day, he was a car salesman. He did not
fit the usual stereotype though. He was a sweet, unassuming man who,
upon seeing a customer approach a car on the lot, would simply smile
and nod. Then he would turn away and take a look at whatever car he was
near, peeking inside, looking at the paperwork on the dashboard,
getting down on the ground and look at the undercarriage. Then he’d
stand up, look for the customer, nod again, and dust off his pants and
hands. He would slowly wander over to the customer, stopping to look at
several cars on the way. He exuded patience and it was amazing to
watch him through this process.
When he finally arrived at the customer’s side, he’d say “Hi, isn’t it a beautiful day?” And he’d smile.
“You look familiar, didn’t I see you at the Rod and Gun Club last
weekend? My band plays there every Saturday night, it’s a great, fun
Then he’d smile even bigger, reach out his hand and ask, “Where are you from?”
More often than not, and because my father knew so many people, it
wasn’t long before he and the customer would discover a mutual
acquaintance. They’d continue chatting for a few minutes and then my
Dad would say something like, “Well, I see you are busy looking at the
cars we have here on the lot. If you need help or have any questions, I
will try my best to answer them for you. I’ll just be inside.”
He would shake their hand again, smile and walk away. He’d get
about six feet, turn around and say, “Hey, the next time you see Joe,
please say hello to him for me, would you?”
Inevitably, that is when the customer would ask for help.
In those years my father had more car sales than anyone else in the
surrounding towns. He never put pressure on anyone and he went out of
his way to make sure his customers were happy. He’d know ahead of time
(because he checked the service list each and every day), when they
brought their car in for service so he could stop by, shake their
hands, and ask about their families.
And yes, while some might call this a sales tactic, he did it
because he really cared. He lived his life with honesty, integrity, and
patience, and he practiced friendly “relationship marketing.” He was
also in charge of creating the advertising for the dealership, and I
loved hearing him explain how and why he’d choose one particular
advertising method versus another. And best of all, he invited me to
brainstorm all the different, creative angles! And because I used to
hang around and watch him, sometimes helping him with paperwork or doing
odd jobs, I absorbed all of this.
I wasn’t even ten years old at the time, and there I was learning
some of the best sales and marketing techniques in the world. Since
then I have had many mentors, but my father was the first, and in many
ways, the best. I follow his practices to this day.
“There are no small customers, treat them all with respect and find a solution for them.”
“Each and every person you meet is very important, so be sure to be kind and attentive.”
And as Maria says, “Marketing does not thrive without sales.”
As a marketing and advertising consultant, I’ve used what I learned
from my father to help a lot of people over the years. But most of
all, I am grateful to him for being such a great role model of how to
overcome adversity and thrive. Thanks Dad!