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May 19, 201508:35 AMThe Gray Area

with Donna Gray

Manners count!

I’m a people watcher — an observer. No matter where I go, I’m learning something. I consider it “continuing education” to observe how others treat their customers/clients and vendors, no matter the field or industry.

I recently had a lunch meeting with someone I think of as a guru of selling. As we enjoyed “catching up” with each other, I watched how she negotiated her way through table visits from others in the restaurant. She always let the others know that I was her prime person of importance for that hour. I looked at her with even more respect as she introduced me to her business friends in a way that not only made me look good, but also made me feel good. In fact, if we’d had some order forms with us, she probably would have closed a deal or two for me. Her business manners and power etiquette paved the way for some good introductions.

As children, whether at school, church, visiting others — in fact, almost everywhere we went outside of our parent’s sight — we were taught to mind our manners. I can still remember my mother telling me to “Be good,” which was shorthand for “Mind your manners.” Good manners and business etiquette pave the way in earning credentials in the business world.

Good business etiquette begins with the first impression — maybe it’s in the way the phone is answered, customers are greeted, or how we respond when being introduced to someone who could turn out to be a prospect for our products. Manners count.

I recently saw a LinkedIn update that told about a company recruiting for a receptionist position with the title of “Director of First Impressions.” What a perfect title! First impressions from a front-line team can keep a prospect interested or turn them off. Manners and attitude work together to show customers and prospects a company is “open for business.” Some ways to make a great first impression and keep customers coming back for more are:

  • Rise, smile, greet, and possibly even shake hands when someone enters the store as a sign of respect and courtesy. Customers feel welcome when they are greeted this way.
  • Remember the most important word in the world — the customer’s name. Everyone likes to be remembered, and have his/her name pronounced and spelled correctly.
  • Learn how to introduce yourself and your company. We often find ourselves in situations where we have an opportunity to meet new people, and we need to have a self-introduction ready with a brief “elevator speech” about the company. The self-introduction gives you a chance to briefly promote yourself, what you do, and your company. One never knows if the person next to you is your next customer.
  • Have the company’s front-line team answer phones with a smiling, “I’m happy to work here and I’m delighted to help you” kind of attitude. People who sound bright, friendly, and enthusiastic when answering the phones make a great impression on the caller.

Good manners work the same in all businesses and industries. From first impression to project completion, good manners convey trust, rapport, and make a special connection with prospects and customers. Good business etiquette skills are powerful tools. Savvy social skills are “in”! We just have to remember what our mother’s taught us — “Be good!” Manners count!

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