Every business is striving for an advantage over their competitors. A simple and very refreshing one is good manners. Small business can implement this quickly and benefit most from this.
Business for good and bad has become more casual.
Where decades ago every one was call Mr. and Mrs. /Ms. , today everyone is known by their first names.
Instead of having a casual day, business are now casual everyday and you MAY only dress up for an important client.
In a time when everyone is being more and more casual, a great small business competitive edge is improving your manners and your dress.
This is an easy way to distinguish yourself from your competitors, make it easy for them to buy from you, and easy for them to work with you.
Here are some things to help you get ahead in today's environment:
- Do remember that gatekeepers count.
- Do be respectful of their time.
- Do place cell phones, pagers, PDAs and BlackBerries on hold.
- Do learn proper table manners.
- Do answer emails and voice mail.
- Do use proper language.
This is one of the most important positions. Always be polite to the person who answers the phone. The gatekeeper is your key to getting to the decision makers. The best idea is to treat them as if they were the decision makers. In many cases, the gatekeeper helps makes the decisions or depending on the product - IS the decision maker.
Everyone leads very busy lives. Make sure you ask how much time the person has for your call or the meeting. Try to limit yourself to this timeframe. When the timeframe is up, you can ask if the person would like to keep going or if they would like to set up another meeting to continue.
If you are running late for a meeting, call and let the person know. You may have to reschedule. Just don't show up late and expect them to change their schedule to accommodate you. In
fact, it is best to come early. You can learn a lot about your client and the organization by observing things while you wait.
Checking messages or taking calls during a meeting makes the client/prospect feel there is someone more important than them. They can also interrupt a critical portion of the meeting - for example if you are negotiating. When you are with a client make sure they feel they are the only one that is important to you. If you are waiting for a critical call, let your client know in advance. When the call comes in, excuse yourself from the room and try to make it as short as possible.
Don't argue over the check. If you invite someone to dinner, you are paying. If you or your guest wants to pay - one pays this time, one pays next time. Also be mindful of what you are ordering. Try not to order the most expensive or the cheapest.
It is best to mimic the price range of your guest.
Don't order alcohol unless your guest orders it. Don't talk with food in your mouth. Try to limit business talk while you are eating. Talk business before the food arrives or at the end. If business is discussed while eating, someone always misses eating their food.
This includes, acknowledging receipt of reports and information. If you do not have the time to respond back in full to any questions or with the information requested, send a short note or make a quick phone call letting the other party know you will be responding and when to expect it.
Do not use profanity or tell off color jokes in meetings with prospects or clients. If you do say something that might be taken as offensive, apologize immediately.
Remember the basics - like saying Thank You, Your Welcome and Please.
Does it pay off?
At a conference recently we had a woman come by and sit by us. She had watched and noticed how nice we were being to those around us. She thought it was refreshing and wanted to learn more about us and what we did. We weren't even exhibiting.
We were attending just like her.
So yes, it does work!
OTB Strategic Consulting, Inc. is run by successful business people with decades of experience in successful ventures. Our latest ventures include business consulting and financial consulting firms. Members of OTB are business, sales/marketing and financial experts, seminar speakers and authors of the ebook/course, Business Consulting for Small Businesses, and the newsletter, Small Business Authority Newsletter. To get your free subscription and free reports including 10 Major Pitfalls Every Business Must Avoid, visit http://www.otbstrategic.com or http://www.megabusinessconsulting.com .