The Police were exactly right back years ago when they sang “Every little thing you do is magic…” In sales it’s right on the money! Doing the small things that can separate you from the competitor can make or break your sales efforts. I regularly run into customers and clients of contractors that tell me the little mistakes their contractors make in the sales process. Some of them are down right ridiculous. It always amazes me how meticulous a contractor will be on a project or design and just blow it on some small sales detail. Being conscientious in sales is just as critical as project design. Missing some small aspect is virtually unforgivable and at least inexcusable. What are these minors that can become majors? Let me tell you.

The number one faux pas, and I mean number one by a country mile, is not returning phone calls. This boggles my mind, especially with the frequency in which it occurs. Why you wouldn’t return a call from a client, positive or negative, is hard to justify. I’m not talking about always being available, I mean just calling them back. Here’s the solution, CALL THEM! Do I really have to train you here? As Nike would say; “Just do it!”

Secondly, shoddy presentation materials. I’ve seen change orders written on legal paper, quotes with coffee stains on them and information scratched out or sharpied on document. The way you present your pricing and information says a lot about how you’ll perform on the project. I don’t care how good your hand writing is, unless it’s a thank you card, type it. How does your logo look? What type of folder is your proposal in? Is your logo on the folder? How will they know it’s your quote when it’s placed on a stack of competitive quotes? Get the picture?

Thirdly, saying “please” and “thank you”. Yup, skipped all the time. I’m actually teaching my 4 year old to do this regularly. Yeah, 4 year old! We need to appreciate the opportunity our customers and clients give us. Without them we have no business. The more appreciative your are the more responsive the client will be. That’s just fact. You are not God’s gift to the construction industry. Show the gratitude your clients deserve.

Fourthly, your appearance. Now we’re getting personal. Do you look well kept? Are your clothes clean, pressed and in good repair? Think I’m kidding? I regularly see people wearing items into business meetings and I wonder ‘What were they thinking?”. Even personal hygiene comes into play. This is so basic and yet many people don’t even realize the creditability they lose through their appearance. Oh, and ball caps are not acceptable anywhere! You do look like a bumpkin wearing it into a buyout meeting. Professionalism is becoming a lost art as our business society gets more casual. Working from home on a computer has contributed to this. Taking the time to dress and groom appropriately out of respect for your customer will not only honor them, but cause you to stand out in a positive fashion in this age.

Number five? Tracking customer data. This is a real separator. Remembering birthdays, anniversaries, kids names, favorite hobbies, topics discussed at the last meeting, promotions and whatever is crucial to the client is a lost and dying art. People love to be appreciated and talked about. Almost everyone’s favorite topic is themselves and the more you recall about someone to their face, the greater depth of relationship you will attain. This takes having a system in place to capture this information and the discipline to review it before contacting a customer or seeing them face to face. I’ll bet less than 20% of people take the time to do this in relation to their premium customers.

There are many more little things people miss. I don’t have space in this column to list them all. Cutting corners never produces positive results. You may be saving a little time but in reality you may be costing yourself vital business. Clients ask me all the time what makes great sales personnel. Truth be told it’s not a great, type A personality, it’s the person who covers the bases. Excels at the little things. I would go as far as saying it’s even more important than industry or product knowledge. I love people I meet with that take notes, ask me personal questions and send little e-mails marking events in my life. These folks are few and far between. This is somewhat teachable but making them habit is imperative. Seeing these types of issues as trivial is a quick indicator you don’t have a sales bone in your body. You may even say, “Well I produce!”. Uh, you produce in spite of yourself in all reality. You either have a good product or service, good people surrounding you or exclusivity in your product or service. That can be a short run. Me? I’d rather have the magic of doing the little things!