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Business Etiquette Basics

Every now and then, it’s a good idea to refresh some of the basic rules of business etiquette. Here’s a crash course of basic business etiquette that you should know.

New To Sales? Here’s What You Need to Know

If you’re new to sales or business in general, it’s a good idea to brush up on your business etiquette because the last thing you want to do is unknowingly give off the wrong impression with a display of poor manners.

As new generations of salespeople come into the profession, the culture changes somewhat, and some of the old rules pass on.

Here are a few rules you should know about.

Think of The Customer

The fundamental rule is to think about the customer, and put yourself in his shoes. How would you want to be treated?

First Name Basis? Maybe Not.

  • Be careful about immediately using someone’s first name. North America is the only culture where this is acceptable.  If your customer has another ethnicity in his/her background, or is older or more established than you, or is more educated, he may view your use of his first name as an insult.
  • If you don’t know how to pronounce a person’s name, ask them to pronounce it for you. This shows respect for the other person.

Respect Their Space

  • When you enter another person’s work space, stand until he/she sits down. Never be the first person to sit down.
  • Ask permission to put your materials on the customer’s desk or table. Don’t just assume that you may do so.
  • If you walk into a customer’s office during inclement weather, hang your coat up and put your boots in the designated place instead of wearing them in to the office.

Respect Their Time

  • If you are going to go over the allotted time, ask the customer’s permission to continue. Estimate how much more time you expect to need, and ask for permission.
  • If you are going to take the customers’ time, be sure that you have something that you believe they will consider of value to discuss with them.  Be mindful and respectful of the customer’s time.

Common Courtesies

  • Be courteous to everyone, from the person washing the windows in the office entryway to the CEO.
  • TURN OFF THE **** CELL PHONE BEFORE YOU ENTER INTO ANY CONVERSATION WITH A CUSTOMER! If you must take a cell phone call, and are within close proximity to anyone else, move to a more secluded area to have your conversation. Irresponsible cell phone users are some of the most irritating and rude people around. Don’t be one.
  • If you must have a cell phone conversation within close proximity of other people, speak softly. You don’t have to shout. See the above.
  • Never discuss the details of a sales call with a colleague when you are within the customer’s building. You never know who the other people in the waiting room or on the elevator really are who can hear your conversation.

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About the author

Dave Kahle

Dave Kahle

Dave Kahle is one of the world's leading sales authorities. He's written twelve books,…

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