Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Is Business Protocol Dead?

Is Business Protocol Dead?

If you ask a highly successful sales person what the keys to their success are, they would likely start by pointing out the importance of doing due diligence research prior to approaching a potential client or customer. They’d be less likely to start by pointing out the importance of protocol when it comes to interacting with potential clients and customers. They would however remind you not to forget it.

The tools we have access to have changed the business landscape, and it would be easy to convince ourselves that all business decisions come down to dollars and cents so it shouldn’t matter how we present ourselves. In one sense that might be true. But think of it from this perspective… if both you and your competition have access to the exact same information, and can offer the exact same deal, how will you differentiate yourself from them?

One way to ensure your forward momentum is to take the time to make sure you do as good of a job presenting yourself as you do of presenting what you have to offer. Here are 3 time tested do’s and don’ts of sales protocol.

1.     Don’t talk to people like you know them—before you know them.

Do:  Dale Carnegie said, "A person’s name is the sweetest sound to them in any language." But that doesn't mean Mrs. Debra Nice, the president of a company you’d like to do business with, will appreciate you calling her Debbie. Address people formally until you are invited to do otherwise.

2.     Don’t disregard the chain of command.

Do:  A chain of command might be annoying to deal with, but it serves a purpose. If you disregard it and go straight for the chief decision maker, you might get the “yes” you were hoping for, but he or she is very likely to turn the deal over to the people you just stepped over—not the best way to build a business relationship. Be respectful of the people you interact with as you work your way up the decision maker chain, and they will be more likely to return the favor by speaking well of you and what you have to offer to their higher-ups.

3.     Don’t speak poorly of your competition.

Do:  Successful sales people know that their clients and customers aspire to rise to the top of their market. But trash-talking your competition doesn’t provide any positive information about how you and your company can help them achieve that goal. Keep your presentation/discussion focused on what the client really cares about—how the product and/or service you offer will improve their position in their marketplace. Do a good job with that and your competition won’t matter.

Yes, these sound like common sense protocols everyone would know and follow, but they’re rarely taught, so many sales professionals end up learning them the hard way. Once you include them as part of your own best business practices though, they are evidence to potential clients/customers of your confidence, professionalism, and experience.

Alan Luoma is a Sales Coach with extensive experience in industrial sales, sales management, new product development, sales and product training. He works with a national sustainable packaging company and their distributors to increase sales. Alan is an expert that speaks on eliminating behaviors that prevent you from being successful in sales and uncovering sales prevention departments that hinder your success. He is a member of the Hartford Springfield Speakers Network, The National Speakers Association and New England Speakers Association. You can view his profile on LinkedIn, or contact him at

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