Manners in Sales, Please and Thank You

Joseph Stubblebine
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You can only lower prices so far, and despite your best efforts, you can only do so much to impress your customers. Sometimes, it's the little things that help an organization stand out from the competition, which is why business etiquette is an important skill for salespeople to master. Saying please and thank you and employing other proper manners can boost sales for individual reps and entire enterprises.

Business coaching expert Joey Faucette points out that customers, vendors, and employees do more for you when they are shown regular appreciation. Faucette says to avoid seasonal-only thanks and go for ongoing, sincere messages of gratitude. As with any form of business etiquette, make saying thanks about the person you appreciate; don't just think about what the thank you will do for you. Be specific so the person knows what they did, especially when a sales employee or vendor helped you close a deal, satisfy a difficult customer, or salvage a bad situation. Knowing that you appreciate the effort encourages the employee or vendor to repeat the action in the future. Faucette also says that good business etiquette makes use of traditional formats; break out the thank you cards and stamps to send a customer a tangible note of appreciation.

Sales professionals should follow proper manners throughout the entire customer service process. Business etiquette goes beyond basics like saying please and thank you. Responding to phone calls and emails in a timely manner, being pleasant in the face of customer rudeness, and practicing good listening skills can increase success for individuals. Professionals also refrain from negative tactics like bad-mouthing the competition or other sales reps. There's a difference between providing a customer with facts about how your product or service outperforms others and delivering trash talk. Unprofessional behavior is likely to encourage distrust from the customer, which isn't a great set up for future sales.

In some situations, it might pay to fly in the face of traditional business etiquette. The Internet may be giving Evan Spiegel a hard time over how he described his relationship with Mark Zuckerberg, but New York magazine's Kevin Roose says email exchanges between the two show the power of ditching formalities. Spiegel, who is the CEO of Snapchat, reportedly responded to an email from Zuckerberg with a quick word of thanks and an emoticon. According to Roose, the email conveyed that Spiegel was an equal, which might have increased Zuckerberg's interest. Roose used an example from his own inbox—a message that was intentionally sloppy and informal. The message, nested between dozens of generic pitches, caught Roose's interest. Adopting sloppy informality across the board probably isn't a good idea, but customizing your etiquette to fit the situation may increase results.

Every sales rep knows that personalization is important. Business etiquette is one way to personalize the process by making customers and others feel appreciated and important. Customize your approach to the situation, but keep common-sense good manners in mind.




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