Four People I Will Never Forget

On this episode of the 60 Second Sales Show I share my September 11th story.  This was recorded on location, overlooking the 9/11 memorial, the day after the fifteenth anniversary of the attacks.

Here is a transcript of this show:

Welcome once again everyone to another edition of the Sixty Seconds Sales Show. I’m your host, Dave Lorenzo. Today’s show is all about following up. Today’s show is about your follow-up skills. It’s about the most important thing, the absolutely most important thing in sales, in business and in life. Follow-up is critical to your success as an entrepreneur, as a business leader and as a sales professional. Before we get in a follow-up, I want to take a moment and recognize our fantastic producer, the lovely and talented Nancy Popp. Good morning Nancy. How are you today?

Hey David. I’m doing good. How about you?

I’m doing great. Nancy helps us with finding guests, she helps us with getting great questions every week and she helps us put the show together, so thank you Nancy for all that you do for us. We are today, talking about follow-up. Before we get into follow-up, I want to tell you about an unusual experience I had this week. We’re recording this show today. We’re recording it, it’s just a couple of days after the 15th anniversary of September 11th, and this day in history, it’s one of those days that for me that is surreal. Many of you who have followed me for awhile know that this day has some significance for me.

I worked in Manhattan on September 11th, 2001. I ran a corporate housing company and we had three hundred employees, but in particular we had thirty that worked in Manhattan cleaning apartments. We had eight hundred apartments in Manhattan, and this crew of thirty people would clean all of our apartments, some of them once a week, some of them twice a month. On September 11th, 2001 I was in my office, and I had held our cleaning crew back because we had an awards ceremony. We were giving out the awards for the folks who had, we’d had a contest over the summer and we were giving out awards for the winners of the contest, we’d had a breakfast.

Usually the housekeepers who worked with me in our offices at 518 5th Avenue, which is 5th Avenue and 43rd street, just two blocks from Grand Central Station, usually these fantastic men and women, the housekeepers that worked with us, would leave our office no later than 8am. Some days they would go to the Upper East Side, some days they would go to the Upper West Side, some days they would go downtown to work in the apartments that we managed. Well on September 11th, 2001, I held them back. They left our office at 8 o’clock, and a crew of twelve of them, it was ten housekeepers, a housekeeping trainee, and a housekeeping supervisor left our office at 8am.

Now that’s … The time they left our office is significant and you’ll find out why in just a second. They left our office at 8am, they got on the subway to head downtown. They were going to clean apartments in a building on 17 John Street. 17 John Street just two blocks, two and a half blocks really from the World Trade Centers where the twin towers stood. They left our office at 8am and I went upstairs in the building to have a meeting with our staff of thirteen sales people and then my admin team, so I think there was seventeen of us. We had a stand-up meeting every morning, like a little huddle where we talked about what the priorities were for the day, so on and so forth.

September 11th, 2001 was a beautiful day, just as September 11th this year was, and I was doing the stand-up meeting our break room with our sales and admin team. Behind me was a television and the television was always on, and it was always tuned to a news channel. We had to be into the news because a lot of our clients were in the financial services industry, we needed to know what was going on on the markets. As I’m doing the stand-up meeting, I’m going through my points for the day, I see one of our account managers put her hand over her mouth, and the two people next to her had this look on their face of shock. I turned around, looked on the TV, and behind me on the screen, it was about ten to, it was 8:50, it was ten to nine. Behind me was a picture of the World Trade Center, I think it’s the South Tower with a hole in it and the smoke and flames coming out of the hole. It was just maybe five or six or seven minutes after the first plane hit the South Tower.

We all had stopped and we were watching the TV, it seemed like it was an hour. It was really probably about thirty seconds. My operations manager, who my operations executive who happened to be a childhood friend of mine. I brought him into the business because of his expertise in operations, he grabbed me and he whispered in my ear, “The housekeepers.” At that point, I ended the meeting and we walked down the hall to my office where I had a larger screen TV and I put that scene on the TV in my office. I told my operations manager, I said, “Get on the phone with the housekeepers.” Each housekeeper had a cell phone that we’d given them, a company cell phone. I said “Get on the phone with them and tell them they have to get back here. Tell them that we’re going to send one of the linen vans to pick them up and they have to get back uptown as quickly as possible. I don’t want them down there because it’s going to be chaos down there.”

He ran out of the office to start calling the cell phone numbers for the housekeepers that left my office at 8 o’clock, who should have been down by the World Trade Centers working by this point. The vans that I referenced, we had two linen vans that drove all around the city and they would help the housekeepers by picking up the dirty linen and dropping off the clean linen. They were driven by two of our guys. One guy would stay in the van, the other guy would bring the linen into the building, take the dirty linen out. What I was figuring is they would, all these housekeepers would jump in one of the vans and get back to the office as quickly as possible, and then we’d figure out how to clean those apartments another day.

Well the story goes that at 8:45 their subway car pulled up to the station. They were pulling little suitcases behind them with cleaning products. They walked out onto the street at 8:46, 8:47, that’s the exact moment that the plane, the first plane hit the World Trade Center. While we’re in the office, this whole group of us is in my office, we’re watching this unfold on TV, we’re watching live as the second plane hits the North Tower. We knew at that moment, the people on television knew and they said as much, that this was not an accident. This was an attack. I grabbed the entire phone list and I gave it to a second person, my revenue manager, I said, “Call everyone out in the field. We need to get them out of Manhattan as quickly as possible. Just tell them wherever they are, get out of Manhattan. Anyone who’s on the the east side of Manhattan, go to Brooklyn, go to Queens. If they can, go to where they live, but tell us where they’re going, and have them call us when they get there. If they’re on the west side, have them go to Jersey.”

Then I went into Scott’s office, my operations manager and I said, “Did you get ahold of the twelve who are downtown?” He said, “No, we can’t get a hold of them. Their cell phones are directly to voice mail.” I said, “Call the building where they’re supposed to be. He called the building, they hadn’t been there yet. Our focus then became on getting in touch with those people because at this point, downtown Manhattan was chaos. It was absolute chaos. People didn’t know what to do, they were teeming, they were coming out of the buildings, the World Trade Center buildings as fast as they could to get away from there. Firefighters were rushing toward the buildings, police were rushing toward the buildings, there’s rush hour traffic heading downtown. Both of our linen vans on the road were on either highway, on either side of Manhattan. One was on the West Side Highway, one was on the FDR Drive.

I called them and I said to them, “Look,” the first van, the van who is on the FDR called in to us. They were stuck in traffic, they were by the Manhattan Bridge, and they said, “What do we do? We see the smoke coming from downtown. We’re still heading downtown but we’re stuck in traffic. Traffic is not moving at all. They may be closing the FDR Drive.” I sent them over the Manhattan Bridge. I sent them to Brooklyn. I said, “Go park the van somewhere. Park in a shopping center parking lot, park in a diner parking lot. Call me when you get there. If you live out that way, then drive home.” One of the guys said, “Yes I do. I do live out that way and I know a perfect spot to park the van.” I said, “Great. Go there. Call me when you get there.”

I called the second van on the West Side Highway. They had said that they were heading uptown. They were heading away from where all the trouble was. I said, “Terrific. Where do you live?” The driver said “I live in the Bronx.” I said, “Take the van home. Drive as quickly as you can. Don’t break any laws. Drive as quickly as you can to the Bronx. Park the car in a parking lot, in a safe place. Let me know when you get there.” We had one opportunity left to pick up these twelve people, and that was a truck that we had that delivered appliances. We installed appliances in buildings and these guys were going to the same building where the housekeepers were going because we had some new apartments that had just come online for a group from Goldman Sacs.


The guys were headed there. Scott called the appliance van and he said, “Look, we need you guys to get to 17 John Street as quickly as possible. There’s twelve people you have to pick up there. We got to get them out of there.” They said, “Fine. We’re going to do everything we can to get there. The issue is we have these appliances. We have $30,000 worth of appliances in the truck. How are we going to pick up everyone and get them in the truck?” At that point Scott had them on speaker phone and I said, “Don’t worry about that. We’ll address that issue when you get everybody together.” At that point, I was fully prepared, fully prepared to dump $30,000 worth of appliances on the street in Manhattan to get those people out of downtown. That was the only thing I could think of to get them out of there as quickly as possible.

We hung up with the appliance guys, we go back into my office and the elevator bell rings. We had a transparent door so we could see who was getting off the elevator and off the elevator stepped two NYPD officers, two New York Police Department officers. We buzzed them in the door. I go out to meet them in lobby, and very calmly the gentlemen says to me, “We don’t want you to panic, but we need you to get your people out of the building as quickly as possible. There’s a bomb in Grand Central Station, and we’re evacuating all the buildings in this area. When you get down to the street, run as far as you can, as fast as you can to the West.”

Not panicking, we went into the office, I called everyone and we walked down the stairs because they told us not to take the elevator, down to the street, and then we ran as fast as we could. We got to, we had about a block and a half away to where a Dunkin Donuts was on the corner of 6th Avenue and 44th Street. I stopped everyone, I said, “Here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to go to,” We’re in the Dunkin Donuts now. By the way, the Dunkin Donuts is still operating. They’re still selling coffee, people are still buying coffee and donuts. Meanwhile, people are leaving Manhattan as fast as they can. They’re running down 42nd Street to get to Port Authority. In Dunkin Donuts I said, “No one has to stay. You’re welcome to leave and go home. Obviously this is a serious situation. Those of you who want to stay, you stay with us. We will stay together. We’ll be safe. We’re going to head toward Central Park because there are no tall buildings there that people can attack. Those of you who want to leave, we will find a way to get you out of the city right now. Take two minutes and decide what you are going to do.”

While these people were deciding what they were going to do, a couple of us, my leadership team and I were talking about how we were going to get the housekeepers. What we decided was that we were just going to continue to call the housekeepers call phones. If we could not call them, if we couldn’t get a hold of them, we would figure out something else to do. The bottom line is, five people ended up staying. Four people and I ended up staying. Everybody else ended up going home. At that point, what we didn’t know was, both of the, the first tower had collapsed and while we were trying to put people on buses to get them out of New York, the second tower wound up collapsing. The buses that we were trying to put them on were full because the city had made all the buses heading out the city free. All the MTA buses were free and people were packed into them. The drivers were instructed fill your buses and drive out of the city as quickly as possible. People were instructed to just get on the bus and go wherever it was going because no one knew what was going to happen in New York in the hours to come.

Nine buses filled with people covered in ash and soot passed by before the folks I was with could get on. Once they got on, the five of us, myself, Scott Brennan, my operations managers and three other people went back to the office. The building hadn’t blown up. They had cleared, there was a NYPD officer on the corner, we asked them, they had cleared the bomb scare. We went back to the office and we continued to try and call the cell phones of the people who were downtown. At that point, it was an hour and a half after the appliance van was supposed to be heading to pick them up. At that point, we heard from the appliance van. They were on the West Side Highway. It was closed. Both towers had collapsed and the plume, the cloud of ash and smoke had covered the appliance van, our guys were inside.

They called and they said, “People are leaving their cars. They’re abandoning their cars and they’re running. What do you want us to do?” I said, “You got to get out of there. Leave the truck. Just leave the truck and run as fast as you can. Go to one of the piers. Pier 60 is right near there. Go to,” They were just south of Chinatown, just north of the downtown area. I said, “Pier 60 is near there. See if you can get on any boat, any boat that is near there. Whatever cash you have in your pocket, pay people, pay whoever you have to. Get on the boat. I’ll reimburse you. Get to Jersey. Just get out of Manhattan as quickly as you can.” We knew, at that point, we had no way to pick these people up. That was probably one of the worst feelings I’ve ever experienced in my life. At that point, I was out of ideas. I was flat out of ideas.

Back in the building, our phones are ringing off the hook with our guests, relatives and friends who are calling, wondering if their loved ones are safe. With our relatives and friends, my family’s calling, the worker’s families are calling. People are calling from our corporate office wondering who’s there and who’s not. That was … Hours seemed like minutes and again, in the afternoon at 2 o’clock, the NYPD came and they said, “We’re going to evacuate again. We have another threat.” This time it was a building next to us. The building next to us was owned by a financial institution, and there was a bomb threat for the building next to us. They said, “Evacuate, but you can just go to the street. We don’t think this threat is credible, but we don’t want you to stay in the building just in case.”

We go down and none of us had eaten, so the five of us were standing in front … By the way, everybody who was with me is answering phones, trying to helped the loved ones of families find their family members. We’re standing at a hot dog truck and we’re wondering what’s going to happen next. We’re discussing how we’re going to get in touch with these people and get these people back from downtown. In the back of our minds we’re wondering if they’re okay. Scott and I decide, look here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to leave the other folks in the office and we’re going to just walk downtown. That’s the only thing we could come up with. We’re going to walk downtown and try to find them. Eight million people, we’re going to try to find these twelve people.

At that point, we look to the left of the hot dog truck, the little hot dog truck and by the way, this guy is still working. He’s selling hot dogs to anybody and everybody who will come by on the street. We looked to the left of the hot dog truck and there is the housekeeping supervisor, one of the housekeepers and trainee. They’re covered in ash. They walk up to us, we just gave them a big hug and one of the housekeepers, the first thing one of the housekeepers said to me is, and she said it in Spanish, but I’ll translate it for you, that she is sorry. She dropped her suitcase of cleaning supplies in Chinatown because it just got too heavy.

They walked from Chinatown to tell us that everyone was safe. The nine other people, that when the second plane hit, the nine other people, they all were able to run to Battery Park, which is just south of the World Trade Center. When the first plane hit, they ran to Battery Park. They saw the second plane hit there, and at that point, boats just started coming and pulling up to where the boats come to take people to the Statue of Liberty. They hopped on a tug boat actually and they were evacuated to Jersey City, the Jersey City area. The place is called Newport, but it’s really between Jersey City and Hoboken. The nine of them were evacuated over there. They were fine. They were absolutely fine, and these three people walked to our office to tell me they were fine.

Now, I tell you this story because this is … The thing about this for me that always makes it … For me this illustrates the power of relationships in business. We talk about the sixty second sale, and we talk about the sixty second sale within the context of connecting with customers, connecting with clients, and developing a relationship that lasts a lifetime. Every year on that day, on September 11th, I connect with the people who I was with. Every year on that day, we remind ourselves of how important that relationship was.

We were a close-knit group, we were very successful and everyone was … We had fun at work but the bond we share over this experience is so strong that fifteen years later, so many things have changed, but the one thing remains the same is the feeling we have for one another. Now your goal is to create that type of connection with your customers, without those dramatic events, without the need for something as powerful as that. Every year I connect with these folks and I just thank them. Every year I thank them for being with me on that day, for being a part of my life and for essentially helping me get through what was a very difficult day.

I know everyone has their own 9-11 story, and I know a lot of 9-11 stories don’t end the way mine ended, with our folks, with everyone being okay. I know that and I hope that God takes care of those who did not make it through that day. I’m sure he will. The power of a relationship to transcend the time and the place … I’ve moved on. I’ve worked in one additional place since then and now I own my own business. All those folks have moved on, they’re working in other places. Some of them didn’t have families, they’ve started families now. Some of them are doing different things in different states, but we all connect with one another on that day because of the power of the relationship we have. What brought us together was this tragedy, these traumatic events.

You can do the same thing in your business, with your clients through the joy of helping them achieve their goals. You don’t need this dramatic event in order create that relationship and create the connection. I share this story with you because for me, this is a story that reminds me that no matter what someone does in the work place, no matter how goofy or stupid or whatever mistake they make, at the end of the day, we’re all people and we’re here together to help one another. We’re here together to achieve common goals. That’s what you and I are doing with our clients, that’s what we’re doing with one another in the workplace.

I hope that this story in a way, brings you some sense of hope. It brings you a sense that you can create powerful relationships with the people in your job, relationships that transcend what you’re doing in the current moment and you can create relationships that are really powerful and meaningful over the long term. Work is not just a place you go between nine and five, but it’s an investment that you make emotionally. You make that investment emotionally in your clients, and you make that investment emotionally in the people with whom you work.

To make things a little bit lighter, so to speak, I mean, my story on 9-11 has a very happy ending and it’s a hopeful one, but let’s lighten things up a little bit and bring it back to what we can do today to increase sales. Nancy, let’s look and see … Pick a question for me, I know we have a couple of them but pick a question for me that you think is particularly powerful that we can use to help folks get some more business in the door today.

Yeah, well we have a really great one from Todd Murco from El Paso, Texas. Todd asks, “Dave, you talk about sending referral sources business before asking them to refer you. You always say that’s how you create evangelists. Well there’s one guy I’ve sent three different deals to, and he hasn’t sent me anything back yet. How many more deals should I send him before I move on to someone else?”

Great question. When do you give up? When do you give up on sending business to somebody? All right Todd, thank you very much for the question. The answer to this is … Three times is a lot. Here’s what I would do. The first you send them a deal, if the deal closes and he doesn’t call to thank you, you should call to follow-up and see how the deal went. The second time you send him a deal, you say, “Listen,” if the first one didn’t close, you say, “Listen, I hope I got you the right guy. I hope this goes well. Let me know how it goes.” The third time you send you send them something, say, “Listen I sent you two people in the past. You followed up with me and you told me how they went. I’m really glad they went well, but I hope this one closes too.”

After you’ve sent them that third deal, what you should do is you should call them up and you should say, “Listen, I want to make sure that I’m sending you the right people. Have those deals closed?” If he says yes, say, “That’s great. I’m happy to send you these deals because I know you would do the same thing for me,” and then just stay quiet. I know you would do the same thing for me, and see what he says. What he will normally say is, “Oh I absolutely would.” Then at that point, you say to him, “Well, would you like to hear who my ideal client is?” He’ll tell you. He’ll tell you exactly who his ideal client is. I’m sorry, you tell him exactly who your idea client is. When you tell him exactly who your ideal client is, he should say to you, “I know somebody like that,” or “I can refer you somebody like that.” If he doesn’t, then it’s up to you to say, “Would you be on the lookout for that person, and would you send me that person if you see them?” He should say yes. I mean at that point he should say yes and if you don’t get anything from him, and you don’t want to send him anymore business, that’s up to you.

My rule of thumb is three attempts Todd. I think three attempts are good. I think that makes perfect sense to me. Calling him each time to follow-up to see if the deals closed. If he doesn’t offer to send you any business, you simply say to him, “Listen, would you like to hear who my ideal referral source, who my ideal client is?” At that point, you tell him who the ideal client is, and you see what he does. If he doesn’t send you anything, you’re done. Three attempts is good. You make sure you let him know that you’re in the business of accepting referrals as well. You make sure you let him know that you’ll take great care of referrals, as if they were your family. After that happens, nothing else, you don’t have to do anything else. You’ve done everything you can.

Then he’ll start to notice that you aren’t sending him deals anymore and he’ll make more of an effort. You can point blank tell him, “Listen, I live off of the referrals people send me. If you want me to keep you sending referrals, I need you to help me out and be on the look out for some clients.” Being transparent and telling people exactly what’s going on, telling people exactly how you feel, that’s the best way to do business. If he says, “How come you’re not sending me anybody anymore? You sent me these three great deals” You say to him, “Look, I have to spread the wealth around, and quite frankly, I’m sending deals to people who send me deals back, so I hope that we can work together. I hope that I can send you more stuff, but right now, I’m busy sending deals to my referral sources, people who are sending me business back.”

That’s the extreme case. Most people get what’s going on here. Most people will connect with you and they want to help you, so he’ll at least try. If somebody hasn’t sent you something after three times, and you’ve had a direct conversation with them and you’ve said to them, “Look, this is why I’m in business. I’m in business to make money. I need you to be on the lookout for this type of person.” If they still don’t send anybody to you, move on Todd. Three times is more than enough.

All right, I want to thank you all for being with me today on the Sixty Second Sales Show. Those of you who are watching on Facebook Live, thank you very much for joining us. You can reach out to me on Facebook at TheDaveLorenzo. That’s my Facebook handle, at TheDaveLorenzo. That’ll take you right to my page where you can watch us on Facebook Live. We do Facebook Live, not just when we do the podcasts. I do Facebook Live from the streets of New York, where I am today, from the beaches of Miami, where I am on most days, or even from the baseball field where I coach the next big league batting champion, Nicholas Lorenzo. Join me on Facebook Live at TheDaveLorenzo.

You can also hit me up on Twitter. I’m TheDaveLorenzo on Twitter too. If you like Sixty Second videos, sales tips, and goofy stuff. Right now I’m doing the push-up challenge, watch me on Instagram, at TheDaveLorenzo on Instagram. I’m posting pictures and sixty second videos on Instagram that’ll be sure to give you a chuckle and make you think. Nancy Popp, thank you very much once again. Thank you to Todd Murco for a great question. We’ll be back here next week with the Sixty Second Sales Show.

Here are three additional resources to help you make a great living and live a great life®:

Pride is Expensive

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Say No to Grow Sales

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Your Emotions are Killing Your Business

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