Nearly a quarter of a century after it first hit bookstores and newsstands in 1989, Steven Covey’s book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People continues to inspire productivity experts, managers, entrepreneurs, and countless others in business fields.
Why did this book have such a huge impact? And why does it continue to influence thought and action in the business community today? The answer to both of those questions is the same: because Covey focused on effectiveness, ethics, and generosity as the most desirable outcomes and methods, and he distilled his wisdom into a handful of easily understood and implemented suggestions.
We at Mamu Media, too, find inspiration in Covey’s work. And so we’ve presented our own list of effective habits—one that (we hope!) pays homage to his groundbreaking insights and offers advice relevant to the needs and concerns of today’s salespeople.
1. Send a handwritten follow-up letter or thank-you note after meeting with a client.
A huge chunk of today’s interpersonal written communication takes the form of quick e-mails or texts. Take the time to write a thoughtful and personal note to your client. He will notice the extra attention—and you’ll stand out from the crowd.
2. Keep your promises.
If you walk out of a client meeting with a to-do list, then do the things on your list. Likewise, make follow-up calls to keep a project moving along. Proving your competence and reliability could lead to more (and bigger!) opportunities with that client.
3. Do your homework before the sales call.
Before you even think about picking up the phone, do your research on both your contact and her company. She’ll be impressed not only by your knowledge but also by the fact that you took the time to get your ducks in a row first.
4. Tailor your message for each prospect.
People who field a lot of sales calls know a canned presentation when they hear it. Impersonal messaging is both boring for them to hear and boring for you to deliver. Seize the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge about and commitment to a client by crafting a presentation that specifically addresses his situation and needs.
5. Respect your client’s time.
In today’s busy world, the gift of time is a precious thing indeed, so be grateful for the time your client shares with you: don’t be late to meetings, and don’t overstay your welcome.
6. Take the sales hat off occasionally and teach something.
Sharing your knowledge with a client not only highlights your competence but also demonstrates a generosity of spirit that won’t go unnoticed.
7. Don’t be afraid to say, “No.”
If you know that something (a product, a contract, or a price, for example) is unfeasible or not in the client’s best interest, say so. She will appreciate your honesty.
8. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.”
If you don’t know the answer to something, be honest about it. Rather than try to fake your way along, tell the client that you don’t know—and then do everything you can to find out.
9. Don’t call only when you need something from the client.
Too many salespeople earn bad reputations for calling only to ask their clients for something. Distinguish yourself from the pack by calling every once in a while to check in or to share some good news.
10. Don’t mistake activity for productivity.
Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you’re getting anything done. Maximize your effectiveness by using your time mindfully and efficiently.
One more thing …
If you follow all of these suggestions, you’ll be well on your way to establishing a reputation in your field for honesty, dependability, professionalism, competence, and generosity. Your clients want good deals on the products and services they need, of course—but they also want to be treated fairly and with respect. By taking the time to lay (and maintain) foundations carefully, you can create mutually beneficial, long-term relationships with your clients.