1. Make it a habit to follow up with people promptly.
It sounds simple, right? In my experience (and surveys regularly back this up), 67% of people in business do not follow up. Very few deals are achieved on the first few attempts, and yet only three percent of sales-people follow up more than twice. Whatever business you are in, if it involves making a sale, signing that contract, or building relationships, the best way to stand out from the crowd is to follow up promptly, follow through, and be persistent and determined. Don’t give up if you are initially rejected- keep following up! Somebody once said, “a no is only a request for more information!”.
2. Respond to people who leave you messages.
This is simply common courtesy. How often do we fail to follow up with someone who has emailed or left a voicemail unless we know specifically why they have contacted us? Not only is this bad manners, it is also bad business. How many important relationships have you missed out on by not responding to a message? The people who stand out from the crowd take the time to respond.
3. When you are speaking to people, give them 100% of your attention.
There is nothing more annoying or obvious to people than you having your own agenda, only waiting for the other person to take a breath so that you can jump in to get your point across, or to turn the conversation around to yourself. Develop your listening skills; most people are not truly good listeners. I don’t remember a time when I learnt something while I was speaking. Be interested in other people and what their point of view is. Ask lots of open-ended questions. Dale Carnegie once said: “To be interesting to other people, you have to be interested in them first”.
4. Get in to the habit of sending a hand-written note…
…or card to someone who has given you an order, a referral, or has been nice, courteous or helpful to you. It takes a few minutes, but means a lot to the recipient, especially in this day of impersonal and easy e-mail messages. I don’t know about you, but I really appreciate it when someone goes to the time and trouble of handwriting a letter or card to me, actually puts a real stamp on it and writes out my name and address on the envelope instead of a computer label. It personalises it for me, makes me feel like I am more than just a prospect in a list of many for that person.
5. Do the unexpected.
Do you acknowledge people who, for whatever reason, did not give you that order, where you didn’t get the contract or make the sale? Remember, they did let you make the presentation. Do you acknowledge the person who didn’t hire you for that job, but at least gave you the experience of the interview? Most people don’t take the time or have the discipline to do this, and yet, a sale or a job lost, or a contract given to one of your competitors today, does not mean it is lost forever. Do not give up, think long-term, think about the relationship you may be developing, the connection you are building for the future, and not about the lost sale, or your bruised ego!
6. Invest at least 30 minutes a day in your own individual personal and professional development.
You can take the 30 mins all at once, or break it in to segments, whatever fits into your lifestyle and schedule. During that time, read/listen to a book/podcast, maybe an autobiography of someone you admire or a business book. Listen to the audio and words of wisdom from experts in the fields and areas of your life that you most want to improve. We can all say we can’t find the time, but this is so important to your personal growth. For many years the only thing I ever read was the sports page of the newspaper. What a waste. I wish I would have devoted more of that time to my development. I am not saying you shouldn’t read the sports page or a good novel, or whatever interests you, we all need that down time for ourselves, but don’t do it at the expense of opening up your mind to new ideas and areas for improvement. Do not look at your education as an expense of time, but as an investment of your time. Knowledge is wisdom when applied correctly. Never stop learning.
7. Stretch your comfort zone; do one new thing every day.
Take a chance on something you have always wanted to try. Don’t be afraid of being rejected, of people saying no to you, or of failing. The people who stand out from the crowd are the ones prepared to take that chance. I am not saying do something radical or foolhardy, but you can become a sensible risk-taker. We all have choices and decisions to make every day. We all know the things we want to do and the things we need to do. Take some risk, defy conventional wisdom. An early mentor once said: “Do you want to stay safe and be good, or do you want to take a chance and be great.”