You’re a small business owner, bidding on a project—and the competition is fierce. What can you do to close the deal?
In today’s fast paced world, the lines of the “dos” and “don’ts” of business dealings have been blurred. We get words thrown at us like “business etiquette” and “minding your manners,” but we assume these concepts are past their prime. The truth is, business etiquette is still very much alive and it could make the difference between losing the deal—or closing it.
The way to stand out over your small business competition is to be known not only for WHAT you do, but also for HOW you do it.
Thank You Cards
“Convenient” isn’t the word that comes to mind when you think of sending out a physical thank you card to current and potential clients, however, there’s great power in a hand-written note. Etiquette expert, Margaret Page, recommends Send Out Cards—an online service that makes physical thank you card sending a breeze. Outshine your competition, and go all out with this “old school” technique.
Establish the Relationship
Before you even make the pitch, take the time to form genuine relationships with people you want to do business with. This will exponentially increase your chances of success. Building that trust will eventually help close the deal. People like doing business with people they like.
Keep It Professional
Never speak badly about a client—ever. This is the fastest way to destroy credibility and trust, and lose future business opportunities. Keep your social media profiles as clean as possible and always speak positively about your clients—past, present and future! Be smart about what information you post on social channels, and try to keep your personal and professional life separate. In the end, you’ll never regret NOT writing that borderline malicious tweet or post. Keep it classy, people.
Your day-to-day correspondence should be well written and professional. Respond in a timely fashion – at least within 24 hours. Many times, a timely response can be the difference between you closing the deal and your competitor landing the job.
Keep your emails concise and avoid a slew of exclamation points and smiley faces. If you receive an email that rubs you the wrong way, refrain from firing off a knee-jerk response. Close the email and go back to it later in the day, or call the person directly. And never email with bad news (cutting ties with an employee, client, or vendor). Remember, e-mail correspondence is permanent. Think before you send.
If a client is expecting you to call or meet them at a certain time, follow through as promised. Whether it’s an in-person meeting or a scheduled call, being late sends the message that you don’t value the other person’s time. And time is that one thing we can’t get back once it’s gone! It’s good to remember this mantra “If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late.”
How do you define business etiquette? How do you keep things classy to close the deal?
About the author:
Tobi North – Creativity rock star and marketing master
I enjoy being innovative and creating communications that customers can relate to. I am always looking for that “light bulb” moment, when I find an interesting topic that I know our customers will love to learn more about. In between creative brainstorming sessions, you can probably find me at a concert or searching for the best BBQ joint in town.