Bad Manners are Bad for Business

Growing up in a family of 10, my mom worked tirelessly to teach her brood manners and courtesy. Every evening at 5:30, my mom would call us in from the yard and serve a meal of meat, potatoes and vegetables. Despite bickering over who had to sit next to my left-handed sister, spilled milk at nearly every meal, and belching, I recall my mom saying, “What if the President were here with us? Would you behave that way?” My mom was teaching us how to present ourselves in all situations—something I didn’t fully appreciate until adulthood—but the lesson I ultimately came away with was to always be prepared for opportunity.  If the President does show up for dinner, the table should be properly set and your manners will be in check.

“If the house is not clean, you should not invite friends over!”

In other words, always be ready to receive an opportunity so if one comes your way, you will be ready and practiced! It’s a lesson I’ve taken with me into the world of sales.

How many times have I gone into work and someone is dressed down or not clean-shaven? Of course I’ll crack a joke, ”Is your razor broken?”  The typical response I get is “I don’t have any appointments today.”

What if an unexpected opportunity arises, and you’re unprepared. But what if the President walked in that day, and you’re wearing khakis instead of dress pants? We are not ready for the President to stop by. We have no plans to receive an opportunity.  We decided to get dressed in the morning for a ‘down day’ of no production.

Shouldn’t we be preparing for success?

We have all heard the phrase “dress for success.” Well, it matters.

And not just for appearances. It’s a mindset; it means there is a plan. When we prepare for success and it happens, we are elated.  When we don’t prepare for success and it happens, we’re blind-sided.

Preparedness + Opportunity = Success

This motto has been around for decades.  Both the Boys Scouts and the Girl Scouts of America state this basic principle in both of their mottos!

If you heed my advice and prepare for a visit from the President, that’s still only one part of the equation. One kid at my family dinner table might have been perfectly well-mannered and prepared, but if the other seven children are acting like hooligans, the household isn’t prepared.

Look around your office. Are your teammates and your environment ready to receive the President? Messy workspaces, ‘dressed down’ colleagues, people eating at their desk. There is nothing more frustrating than bringing a prospect into our ‘home’ when the team is not ready.

Remember, sales is a team sport.  Everyone needs to be ready for success. Sometimes it is about communicating to your team that opportunity may strike at any moment, but more importantly it is about everyone deciding to be ready at all times. This isn’t easy. It takes time. But it can be done, and it’s fun to work on preparing for opportunity together.

I hope you will take some time to prepare you, your team, and your workspace for a visit from the President!

2 thoughts on “Bad Manners are Bad for Business

  1. That was great advice. I’ll be sure to share this at my next staff meeting.
    Do you have a write up about professionalism in the work place? Such as appropriate subjects to talk about with clients, not complaining in the backroom about clients, not gripping to clients about life stresses, not using slang/bad language with clients or bad language in the breakroom.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us Mary!
    Kim Olson

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