Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Business Etiquette: Not Everyone Has It.

Lately, I've been having some conversations with friends and associates about what is good business etiquette. I've noticed that there are so many people who are in business for themselves or want to be in business for themselves but have absolutely no idea what type of etiquette they should have. They go around doing what they do, but can't figure out why people don't want to come back. It even goes down to how you speak with people, for example:
I recently started a temporary/ part-time job. When I arrived on my first day, the district manager was there. She did her usual thing of making sure the corporate identity of the place was in good order and blah blah blah. I spoke with my manager the day after about how things were going and she said it was good but that she was very surprised at the type of language the lady used. Let's just say she uses a lot of "sentence enhancers" when she speaks.
Although, I thought it was funny, it led me to think about business etiquette and how everyone doesn't have it.

Luckily, business etiquette isn't one of those rare traits that only certain people possess. If you value yourself AND your business, then understanding a few things about doing business is very important.

Business Etiquette: Do You Have It?
  1. When communicating to a new or potential client, don't be a narcissist. Just like a first date, no one wants to hear you go on and on about yourself. Sure your client needs to know about you, but you need to allow them to guide the conversation. If you spend the first 10 minutes of your client's time talking about "this accolade" "that notable client" "those accomplishments" without first inquiring about what they need, want, or are looking for (as interesting as you may sound) you've already lost them. You need to know your 30 second pitch but also be able to expand upon it for conversation. As is said in marketing, clients will only spend money with you if they are comfortable with you. The ultimate goal is for them to hire your services or purchase your product, but in order to get there you can't be a narcissist. Put your clients first.

  2. Nothing is more friendly than a courtesy call, email, or letter. They've signed the contract, purchased the product and you're happy. But don't allow this to be the only time that they do business with you! A large percent of what business owners make (in the service and product industry) comes from repeat customers. Sending some form of courtesy communication not only keeps your brand at the top of mind awareness of the customer, but it continues and maintains that relationship you've built with them. It can literally be the difference between them spending a contracting you for one event or five! It's as simple as providing them with a simple "Thank You" note or "How are you" email.

  3. Word of Mouth travels fast, so don't piss off your old clients because you want to target new ones. Word of mouth is the oldest form of advertising that we continue to utilize today. Do a good job with a talkative or well known client and see your business skyrocket. Conversely, fail to maintain good business etiquette, don't do a good job, or let your product fail and you might as well pack it up and call it over. Outside of financial reasons, many businesses fail because they don't have ANY word of mouth buzz...let alone negative. The best way to get your clients, new clients, and potential clients talking about you to leave them with something good to say about it...THEN ask them to provide you with a recommendation!

  4. Act like you want to be in business. Why are you in business? Is it the money? The fame? The success? or the satisfaction of watching your hard work turn into something great? Regardless of WHY you are in business, one of the most important thing to do is ACT like you want to be in business. As a consumer, think about the times where you've gone to an establishment and the clerk, waitress, or manager turned you off because they acted like your money and time wasn't good enough. Don't be that person. Act like your client is the most important asset you have because well THEY ARE! Simply acting like you want to be in business is the difference between treating your business like a hobby with fans and treating your business like a business with clients.

  5. Don't make promises, keep guarantees. Nothing is worse than someone breaking a promise! Period. IF you say you are going to do something...DO IT! If someone has paid you or you have an agreement with some, do everything you can to fulfill that agreement. If you've gotten them to spend money with you, then you need to treat the client, their money, and their timeline like a precious jewel. When you fail to keep your promises to people that's when you start to get bad word of mouth about being unaccountable, unprofessional, and untimely. Even worse, when your supporters starts feeling that way about you. Don't just make promises to people, keep guarantees. Do what you told them you would do and do it to the best of your abilities. Otherwise, prepare to give them a refund and never see them again.

Business Etiquette. It's the difference between being an entrepreneur and being a hobbyist with a following. Knowing how to conduct yourself at all times and how to treat your clients are very important in the business world. Remember not to be a narcissist but knowing when to talk about yourself (ie business), building a relationship with your customers can start or end with a courtesy call or lack there of. Word of mouth travels faster than the speed of light, so acting like you want to be in business and keeping your guarantees are A MUST in this ever expanding world of business!

Have you ever conducted business with someone that you could pretty much guess they wouldn't be in business the next year? Let me know!

The Unemployed Entrepreneur

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