The Dead Sea Scrolls remain one of the most important archeological finds of the 20th Century, as they shed light on the time when Jesus preached, and Christianity began.Originally found in a cave in 1946 by teenage Bedouin Shepherds, they were sold to antiquities dealers in Jerusalem and eventually made it to the public in a story worthy of Indiana Jones.
During one of my volunteer trips to the DVI Clinic in Jerusalem, my friend, clinic representative, and tourist guide Natan, brought me to an antiquities dealer in Jerusalem, as he knew of my hobby of collecting ancient biblical coins. Natan said this dealer might be able to show me some unique pieces. He led me through the snake–like alleyways of the Old City and into a courtyard. There, we met Mr. Baidun, who was introduced to me by Natan as the son of the antiquity dealer who obtained the original Dead Sea Scrolls.
Mr. Baidun, surrounded by his sons welcomed me like a long lost relative. He kissed my cheeks and hugged me. When we sat, he commanded his sons to bring tea and for one to go to a “special” place to get hummus. “Don’t go to Mustafa, go to Ismail, it’s fresher!”
The game was on.
Mr. Baidun checked me out. He already knew that I was American and a “wealthy dentist”. Natan, I’m sure told him. He also wanted to know what level of collector I was. I told him that I was friends with David Hendin, the author of the most respected book on Biblical Coins. I dropped a few other names of people I knew like Professor Qedarand Shaya Tzadok, respected figures in the antiquities field from Jerusalem. Then he took out a few coins from his pocket and put them on the table in front of me.
It was a test. I looked at the coins, described them aloud and replied that I wasn’t interested in these. “Very nice, but they’re not what I’m looking for.” I said that I was looking for specific coins, from the Bar Kochba era of 132-135. I must have passed the test, because he then commanded another son (there were a bunch hanging around) to go at retrieve a “very special” coin. That son exited and returned after a while, during which I ate then best hummus I’ve ever had.
The son returned with a Bar Kochba tetradrachm. A beautiful coin struck in 133 CE, over a Roman coin, it showed, in magnificent detail, the facade of the Jewish Temple that was destroyed 63 years earlier in 70 CE.
The game continued. A price was mentioned. It was extremely high. I replied that the price was too rich for me. The response was; “What would you like to pay?” I countered with slight less than half. A laugh. I remained silent. Then “no no no, too low.” I said that I would have to think about it and if I changed my mind, I would have Natan contact him. “Wait, wait, let’s talk.” I looked at my watch and told him that I had an appointment I had to keep. We said our goodbyes and made our way out of the Old City.
What an experience!
Here’s what I learned.
Natan, also a smart and cagey fellow, preframed the dealer experience by taking me to his personal home, where the “good stuff was”, rather than to the antiquities store he owned. The home would be a more inviting atmosphere, conducive to negotiating over items of such rarity and value. But, he kept the most important “authoritative” piece of information until we had arrived. Meeting “The son of the Dead Sea Scrolls dealer” was indeed a value-added proposition in and of itself. The story of having bought something from someone with such history might, in and of itself, prompt a sale.
The hospitality shown was extraordinary. It was choreographed for maximum impact.
The entire sales process was masterful. Practiced over centuries, being exposed to it was almost irresistible. Fortunately, the price was, at the time, too high for me. Plus, I knew that Natan would have received a cut and I was unwilling to pay such a finder’s premium.
How can YOU apply some of these ancient and yet effective techniques in your dental practice and new patient experience?
Here are 4 suggestions.
I was able to resist temptation because I was mentally prepared for the game. And, I really wanted to experience the game. But even with that, I almost buckled.
Eventually, I acquired the coin I wanted. I can say that I met the son of the dealer who sold The Dead Sea Scrolls, which I’ve also seen at the Israel Museum. And I can now hold a coin minted when the scrolls were placed in those caves in the Judaean Desert.
It’s been 1,953 years since the temple pictured on this coin was destroyed. But the memory lives on, as does my experience in the Old City.
Towards crafting extraordinary experiences,