The Southern Gentleman – Lost Tradition or a Needed Revival

Filed Under (First Impressions) by Don on 11-08-2011

Tagged Under : , , , , , ,

This post is a little off my usual topics but I think you will recognize it’s value.  I remember my mother handing me Amy Vanderbilt’s Book of Etquette and told me to learn it if I wanted to present myself as a polished young man when I went out into the world.  I always considered good manners to be ‘expected’ of me as I grew up and I still expect them even though they have nearly disappeared in today’s baggy pants society.  What makes up the classic southern gentleman?  His attire for one thing, but let’s go past those specifics and think about some other traits that are nearly lost.

As a fan of the attire worn back in the 1930′s and ’40′s I wish the hat style of that period were back in vogue.  A man never left his office or home without his hat on.  He didn’t wear it backwards or sideways and it was always neat and matched his suit.  His clothes were always properly pressed and perfectly fit.  He would always tip his hat to the ladies with a polite “Howdy” or “Morning, ma’am.” He would always open the door for the lady and kept her on the far side of the sidewalk when they were out so she wouldn’t be the first to get hit by a vehicle. The gentleman would pull out the chair for the lady to sit and would always stand up if seated when a lady approached the table or his desk.  He was well mannered while eating never opening his mouth when full of food or talking with his mouth full.  His napkin was always properly fashioned in his lap and no matter how bad the meal was he was always complimentary to the lady and cook.  The southern gentleman would offer to carry parcels and packages for the lady and would always, always greet and thank her with a smile.  The southern gentleman is a shameless flirt at all times yet always charming, never demeaning or crude.  The southern lady never took the flirting wrongly and with class and dignity knew how to be gracious but firm.  He knew how and when to send flowers to his lady or his office assistant, or even his client and make the right impression.  The southern gentleman always said thank you…always. 

Why can’t we practice this practical form of good manners today? Do you think people today will think you old fashioned or silly?  Or, do you think you will make a valuable first impression?  Remember, you don’t get a second chance a first impressions.  Perhaps it’s time to remember our southern heritage or perhaps adopt a little southern charm to your own daily practices.  It’s simple things like this that make lasting impressions.  Yes, I still open the door for the ladies and I do send flowers.  (My hobby used to be growing roses) I have walked across the parking lot to help a lady put her purchases in her car and my wife will tell you that I am a shameless flirt.  I love the south!

The last word:  “If you could get up enough courage to begin, you have the courage to succeed.”– David Viscott

Effective Questioning – Are You Listening?

Filed Under (OP Sales Training) by Don on 04-08-2011

Tagged Under : , , , , , , , , ,

I think many sales people would agree with me when I say loyalty is on a steady decline in our marketplace.  I blame it on the current economic conditions primarily.  I hear it day in and day out from sales people about their once loyal customers hammering them on price.  Businesses, in a sour economy especially, always seem to pick on their office supplies to cut costs first.  However, we also know that an account won on price is also lost on price.

So with price being such a big deal how do we avoid it when prospecting for new business?  We don’t.  We just side step it in the beginning. The first skill you must master is effective questioning.  When you finally get that face time with your prospect you ask questions about their current ordering process, the delivery schedule, delivery preferences, shopping/ordering preferences, item subs, toner needs, etc., you get the idea.  When a prospect says something like, “They always leave my deliveries at the front desk and I have to get someone else to take them to my supply closet..” that is a sign of dissatisfaction and should be written down in your notes.  However, you should follow up that statement with something like. “Isn’t that inconvenient?” or “do you really have time for that?” or “have you ever hurt your back doing that kind of stuff?”  You want to identify with your prospects problems, highlight and expand on the problems it creates because you are going to provide a solution, BUT NOT NOW!  You must question effectively NOW and provide your solution later.  You absolutely must resist the urge to enter ‘sales mode’ and solve the problem now.  You are on a fact finding mission  and besides you may find other areas of opportunity during your interview.

Seek out problems and potential areas for improvement first and offer value when you return.  Get a commitment and do not forget to ask for the order!  So many times we offer all the solutions and value but forget to ask for the business.  This, of course, is just a small part of effective questioning and prospecting.  Effective listening is vital to the success of this skill set and I urge you to practice these skills every day.  Role-playing is especially effective when working on these skills.  Each sales meeting should have a dedicated time set aside for role-playing in the group setting.  How often do you practice with your team?

The last word: “Don’t find fault, find a remedy; anybody can complain.”– Henry Ford