Ten Rules of Sales Etiquette

Life has changed a great deal in the 29 years I’ve been in sales. Electronic barriers, such as voice mail and Caller ID, give customers the chance to hide and ignore calls. Overall, some would say people are more rude than ever. I would only say that there is a definite loss of respect in a great deal of relationships, both business and personal. But as my 85-year-old mother would say, you can only manage you.

So, to help you to be the best sales person you can be, I offer up the 10 Rules of Sales Etiquette, in no particular order (except for the last one):

1. Never leave an angry voice mail—Keep your frustration in check when on the phone. The rule is that you will not hear back from someone. The exception is that you do. Regardless of whether you are pursuing a client or a prospect, be prepared for the long haul and remember that you can always get angry later. For now, remain calm, citizens.

2. Never put anything in writing that you wouldn’t want the client to see—This one is even more important than the first rule. Let’s say you write “nit-picky client” on a note to the prepress department. What if that note gets attached to the file and even the proof? Your customer will be justifiably irate if he/she sees it. Even when you are adding comments to your CRM system, show some class.

3. Be appreciative of in-house employees—I remember visiting AusTex Printing in Texas many years ago. The president, Jack somethingorother, gave me the obligatory plant tour. Along the way, he bellowed out every employee’s name, jumping between English and Spanish. People positively lit up when he walked by. Jack was clearly a guy who shared compliments for a job well done and genuinely cared for everyone in the plant. The next time a pressman stays late to finish a job, send a note of thanks. Appreciation doesn’t cost a nickel and it is simply the right thing to do.

As a 30 year sales veteran, Bill has the perspective of a been-there, done-that sales rep in the commercial print arena. Following sales fundamentals and giving unapologetically "old school" advice, he writes and speaks in an entertaining fashion to make his points to sales people and owners who sell. "Bill Farquharson will drive your sales momentum."
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  • http://PatrickWhelan Patrick Whelan

    Great article Bill! Thanks.

  • http://jimPond jim Pond

    Don’t forget…never prospect call from 8-12 on Monday and 1-5 on Friday…it is just rude.

  • http://TomPlain Tom Plain

    Bill, These are essential. I love them all, especially on taking time to mentor. BTW, the boldface lead in is perfect to make a quick scan possible. Thank you.

  • http://BillFarquharson Bill Farquharson

    Jim, that’s interesting. Can you explain your comment? I believe that the BEST time to prospect is Friday afternoon, arguing that every other sales rep out there assumes the prospect won’t be there. I’ve had some of my best successes on Fridays. Your comment to the contrary intrigues me. What’s the thinking?

  • http://PaulCartwright Paul Cartwright


    Great article! These are things that I “preach” (I hate that term!) to my sales staff and I believe are the cornerstone of mutual respect with the client and prospect. The mentoring fosters teamwork and, right now, that’s what it’s all about.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts,


  • http://BruceKnight Bruce Knight

    Great points.

    Mind your manners.

    Work hard for your customers.

    Thanks for reminders.

  • http://Kelly Kelly

    I’ll go you one further about Friday afternoons – people are generally in a better mood because they are closer to getting out of the office. They are much more likely to listen and give you more time! Love this article Bill

  • http://BillFarquharson Bill Farquharson

    I think I should have included, “Shut your cellphone off before an appointment” but maybe that is too obvious. How about, “Be a good listener.” Nah, that one’s kind of “duh” as well.