Manners still matter! Be aware of your manners, whether at a restaurant, the golf course, or sporting event. A relaxed atmosphere is not an excuse for lax manners. After all, it is not the first impression that matters; it is maintaining a favorable one throughout the life of the relationship. With respect to Julie Andrews, just a spoon full of manners helps the message go down in the most delightful way!
“The way we do anything is the way we do everything.” – Martha Beck
No matter how well you know a client, they are always observing you. If they were raised with dining etiquette and you grab the wrong fork, they notice. If you curse, they notice. If you drink too much, they notice. Formalities or lack thereof may not bite you the first time, eventually it will catch up with you. It may even impact your reputation within your own firm.
Ruthie Bolton said, “If you take in life just a few principles, you won’t have to carry around a suitcase full of rules.” With that in mind, below are five simple etiquette principles for sales professionals.
- Respect their time. People do not have time for visitors. My clients share the overwhelming amount of emails and meetings they have on a daily basis. Keep small talk to a minimum. Thank them for their time and transition quickly to the business at hand by stating the purpose for your meeting or phone call. An appointment without a purpose is simply a visit in disguise. Every appointment should have a clear objective, even if it does not lead to a closed deal. Show up on time, every time.
- Listen and be engaged! When you start conversations, and listen to what people are telling you, it will catapult your business. We live in a world where people are more connected than ever before, yet they are starving for a real connection to someone and something! They need to feel valued, important and that you are genuinely interested in them. Listen to understand instead of listening to respond. To do that, you must forget about yourself and your product completely.
- Bring positive energy with you! Be in control of the energy and atmosphere in every room you enter. Little things matter and are noticed, even if it is subconsciously. You dictate the kind of experience people have with you! This starts at your very first interaction. The way you dress, your handshake, eye contact and even your smile matters. Be genuine and authentic. Be bold; speak a little louder and speak clearly. When you are enthusiastic, people want to be a part of what you offer. Your image and attitude are going to be the things people associate with your business, your brand and your product.
- Watch your Words! Sometimes the oldest principles are still the best principles. If you don’t have anything nice to say, the polite thing to do is to say nothing. You should never speak negatively about another company, business or person. By knocking the competition, you may be insulting their past decisions and even worse, your organization and the competition may one day merge! Talking about people versus issues is simply gossip.
- Give recognition and appreciation. With any form of business etiquette, personalize the process by being specific to the person and situation. Express sincere gratitude and appreciation for their efforts. Give heartfelt praise for accomplishments, big and small. Celebrating achievements encourages repetitive action. Never tell the what without the why! Saying thank you for your business is an easy amenity. Telling them why you are thankful conveys sincerity in appreciation. Don’t be afraid to break out the postcards and hand written notes – in a world of emails and texts these really standout!