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We are all looking for the silver bullet to propel our businesses to success and beyond. Advice that works for one business, does not necessarily work for another. The proof lies in the implementation of ideas and advice elements. There is no need to bet the farm, but some effort will quickly show which piloted elements have merit.

This article will focus on the first three of the following five subject matters:

  • First Impressions
  • Keeping your commitments
  • Finding the sweet spot
  • Having access to a sounding board and
  • Attentiveness vs ignorance

The intent of the article is to leave you with a list of ‘easy to implement’ guidelines and questions to ponder on that will enable you to identify a couple of blind spots in your business operations which you will be able to address.

1. First Impressions

When meeting someone in person

It is said that we have 7 seconds to make a good impression on another person.

Here is a couple of pointers:

  • Dress and groom appropriately
  • Smile – it will increase the likelihood that you will be trusted and that you seem to be more
  • approachable
  • Give a firm handshake
  • Speak slowly – this is a sign of confidence
  • Make eye contact
  • Act respectful towards the other person
  • Get the person’s name right from the outset – also the pronunciation

How does your business premises look?

  • Is your branding visible – on the outside and inside?
  • What is the dress code of your client-facing employees?
  • How does the reception area look?
  • How clean is your furniture, windows, sidewalk outside the business premises and the parking area?

Answering the phone – telephone etiquette

  • After how many rings is a telephone answered?
  • Do you have an answering service where clients hold the line for ever or have umpteen
  • transfer options to work through?
  • Is the person answering the phone courteous and professional?
  • Is the telephone answering script standardised?
  • Do you have a message-taking procedure and follow-through process in place?

Your website – the 24/7/365 window to the world

There are 3 critical, non-negotiable elements that your website should address:

  • It should state clearly who you are;
  • What needs you address or what problems you solve; and
  • How clients can contact you.

Other considerations include, but is not limited to:

  • How professional does the website look?
  • Do all the links and forms work? Are they checked on a continuous basis? Are there any "Error 404s"?
  • Is the content recent (articles, product/service catalogues, pricing, and previous and future
  • events)?

Company vehicles

  • How clean are they?
  • Are they mechanically well maintained (limited /no break-downs)?
  • Is the branding/sign-writing still clearly visible?
  • Does driver behaviour meet your standards?

2. Keep Commitments – The gist of it

Your personal integrity and that of your business are on the line as clients/business associates/vendors and employees need to count on your word when they are in business with you.

Think about:


  • Do you honour the date and time?
  • Life happens – keep an open communication line to put another meeting arrangement in place. People are usually very understanding and accommodating. They expect of us to treat them with respect and this means that we acknowledge them as important to us and our business.


  • Make sure to deliver a quotation within the agreed-upon timeframe. Many businesses pitch up to do a quote, but do not bother to follow it through. The reputation of our business can be tarnished severely.

When other people in your business make commitments on your behalf

  • If it is in error – request the other party to be relieved from the commitment; otherwise, honour the commitment (if it does not break the bank). You will create a lot of goodwill with the other party.

It is easy – do what you say and promise to do.

3. Finding the sweet spot

The "magic" of the sale

This is when a client with a need and who is willing to pay for a solution meets a product or service provider; i.e. someone who can solve or address the need.

Eliminating wasteful resource application

Resources in a business are wasted when there is a lack of focus, no client and target market definition and when the business operates outside its competence zone by taking on work which is not suited for their skills set and which they are not passionate about.

The ideal client and target market profile

You may use the following elements, or a combination thereof, to develop a client profile which will enable you to identify a niche market towards which you can focus your marketing and sales efforts:

  • Individual income
  • Marital status
  • Qualifications
  • Employment status
  • Geographical location
  • Profit and/or turnover, or number of employees, if the client is a business

Also track the origin of client interest as this will help you to focus you marketing actions and sales endeavours.

Outcomes – when we get it right, it will ultimately lead to closing a deal and selling more products and services.

Be on the look-out for the second article which will focus on:

  • Having access to sounding board and
  • Attentiveness vs ignorance

To support business owners with the important task of business planning, Sanlam gives you free access to the book Your Annual Business Game Plan for Success, which provides an easy and straight forward framework needed to draft a well-crafted game plan that will create the positive change and growth necessary for business success. To download your free copy, visit the Sanlam Game Plan website

Article written by Jannie Rossouw, Head: Sanlam Business Market



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