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The art of making a professional impression

After a sunny weekend and a horror experience in a restaurant, it's finally time to talk about marketing again.

One evening, the family and I walked down to our favorite restaurant by the sea and discovered that the restaurant changed owners. (Have you noticed that negative changes take time to adjust to when you're in love with a place?) Not until the chain-smoking waiter opens another beer behind the counter, takes a sip and wipes his sweaty brow over the food before making his way to us do I begin to smell a rat. The nail in the coffin was the sight of his stained t-shirt, his hairy, white legs and cut off gymnastics pants.

The former favorite restaurant was given a new name that at least made the walk home a bit more enjoyable. The place is now called ”Restaurant The Sweaty Drunkard”(Too bad the kids heard me naming it). The saddest thing of all is that Im tell you this – a disgruntled customer spreading his opinion.

That's why we'll talk about how to make a professional impression now.

Here are five tips:

1. Always try to be a pro
It doesn't matter if you have a restaurant, a publishing company or a consultant business - customers always expect you to look and behave in a manner that is consistent with their ideal image of being your customer. Think about how you want to be treated yourself. Try to find an idol in your field that you can emulate. My own idol is a vendor I met once. He was both personal and professional, he understood the importance of not just putting on an enterprise face with a pasted smile, but took advantage of his own strengths - in his case, it was his great sense of humor.

2. Listen to what customers are saying
Having a personal relationship with over 7 000 customers is hard (I've noticed), but you can try. Moreover, only a handful of your customers are interested in personal contact with you. You should take care of and nurture those who want to get in touch with you. It's an honor for you to have dedicated customers who like doing business with your company.

3. Always try to say yes
Challenge yourself to always answer yes to what customers want. It's almost always possible. If you sell something for 1 200 dollars and the customer wants a discount, say yes if they buy another product of the same kind.
If your customer can't afford that right now – tell him/her that he/she can pay half price now and the rest next month.

4. Correct errors quickly
Sometimes things happen that shouldn't happen. Something goes wrong and you can't deliver as you promised. You know that the customer will get angry and you mourn about the phone call you need to make. Ideally, you would like to bury your head in the sand and hope that the problem solves itself. It never does.
If you know that a delivery will be late, tell the customer directly when YOU find out about the delay, not a day before the delivery (or a day after it was delivered).
Don't blame others although it's ”Bob at the Order department” who promised a bit too much. You can talk to him later, but do what you can for the customer now.
Don't talk about something that is ”policy.” The only thing you're saying is that you belong to a rigid and impossible organization. Tell the customer the reason for the delay and what you will do about it. Responsibility is the key word and you'll be rewarded for your honesty,  I promise.

5. Take responsibility for sales
Get in touch. Make sure the customer got what he/she ordered. Make sure your business becomes a secure place for customers to do business with so that he/she wants to continue doing business with you.

About the author

Stefan Ekberg has worked in marketing for small business for 20 years and has written around 30 books on how small business owners can market themselves with limited resources. . In 2012 Stefan was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year in Stockholm.

230 000 prescribes to his free newsletter "The 5 minute marketer"
Every week some 230,000 prescribers gets his free newsletter about 5 minute marketing.

"The 5 minute marketer" - the book
You run a small business and you want to get ahead of the competition, but how can you give resources to marketing when you're short on time and the budget is tight? The solution is here! The 5-Minute Marketer is packed with 395 tried-and-tested ways to market your business in 5 minutes or less.