This is a picture of the fortune from the fortune cookie that I just opened. It reads:
In business, the reputation of being considered honest and straight forward would be great PR, wouldn't it?
Which brings me to the point of business networking and dealing with customers… online or offline. Doing the right thing is such a simple, and crucial, concept in life. Yet many business people, and business organizations, find it so hard to put into practice because they erroneously put themeselves first. So, step back for a moment, refocus and think about these steps to get recognized as a credible and honest, straight-shooter:
- Don't say you can do something that you or your business can't do. Empty promises are an easy way to ruin a business relationship.
- Underpromise and overdeliver. Creating a buzz about your business and your own reputation is about not only giving them what they want, but also giving them more than they asked for. Great service should be ingrained from beginning to end and beyond the sale.
- Don't badmouth the competition… at least not directly. It may be ok to point out where you stand out in relation to the competition, but degrading them is just not good business practice and could result in negative PR for you.
- Speak the truth–always. I don't care what it is! If the competition is CLEARLY better in a particular case, state why they might still want to use you, but admit you may not be the best fit. Certainly, if you are competing on price and yours is higher or lower due to quality, service, or other significant reasons, explain your value– but don't lie about the competition, quality of your service or what you truly feel they need. Don't hide anything material or significant. Don't ignore customer concerns or complaints. Don't lie.
- Remember that the key to getting great referrals is not having sold something to a customer, it's having helped them find a solution to their problem.
Could you think of any better way to grow your business than to be thought of by customers, prospects and the competition as being a straight forward and honest business person? That would certainly make you hard to compete against, gain a loyal following and be an easy business choice for customers to hire!
– Steven Boorstein, CEO
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