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American Lawyers Quarterly
Thomas Hamilton
January 18, 2017

Recently, I was having a very interesting conversation with a client friend of mine when the discussion turned to the subject of sales. It’s always interesting to learn how others might be refining their sales strategies and approaches. But rather than sharing his own tips or techniques, instead he described certain tendencies which he felt were indicative of a lack of “good salesmanship” among some people that he has encountered in the business community. Here are some of the bad habits he mentioned:

Not returning phone calls and emails to a client timely — The key word being “timely.” It seems that for some people this can be a day, a few days, or maybe a week or more. Unless there’s an urgent situation that is taking him away from all means and modes of communication, a good sales professional should plan on getting back to a client within a day. This doesn’t mean that he needs to have the answers, but he should let the client know he received their communication and that he’ll get back to them with the answer within a specified period of time.

Not understanding how to communicate appropriately — My client mentioned that sometimes he is approached by people who speak to him as though he is one of their fraternity brothers, using language which is much too casual for their business relationship. This also applies to emails he receives – email shorthand such as substituting “u” for “you” just makes him cringe. It’s not necessary to be so formal as to use words like Sir and Madam, but a good sales professional should understand the tenor of the relationship and adjust his speech accordingly.

Keeping arms folded when talking to someone — Body language speaks volumes. When a sales professional carries themselves in a way that is not open and embracing, the other person is going to perceive him as cold and standoffish; or worse yet, not fully forthcoming with important information. Learning to relax but at the same time maintaining good posture and poise will always make a good impression.

Focusing attention on a mobile phone — In our current immediate information gratification society, the first thing many people do when they sit down is to put their mobile device right on the table in front of them. How annoying is it when trying to have a serious conversation and the sales professional is frequently looking at the text messages coming in. Even worse, taking a call that can wait.

Leaving for an “important” appointment — When a sales professional rushes out of a meeting with the excuse that he must attend an “important” appointment, he will surely convey the impression that the present meeting is not worth his time — or yours.

Not expressing thanks to someone who has introduced you to another potential client — It only makes sense to acknowledge this gesture in order to encourage future introductions and most likely, future business. When a client takes the time to make an introduction, and it’s not acknowledged with appreciation, it’s clear that there is a serious lack of understanding of proper protocol and common sense.

Thomas Hamilton

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