Friday, August 11, 2006


The Salespersons Guide to SUPER Netiquette

I invite you to comment on this article...please scroll down to the bottom and click on the comment link to add your two cents!

I recently joined the throngs of moviegoers to see Superman Returns. It is fabulous! In case you haven’t heard it’s less of an action movie and more of a romance movie…perfect for us girls.

The oversized movie theatre was packed. Not a seat left in the house. During the previews, I noticed a beehive of activity in the theatre. People answering cell phones. Loud conversations with other movie goers seated several rows away. Babies crying. People getting up and down several times to crawl across entire rows of seated moviegoers. Shouting matches over seats. I kept thinking to myself, when the movie starts they will settle down. Not!

It only got worse. I could barely concentrate on Brandon Routh’s finely sculpted abs for all the commotion going on throughout the movie. I have never witnessed such a display of bad manners. Much of the bad behavior was technology related.

What is your netiquette IQ? Technology etiquette is sometimes referred to as netiquette and is defined as communicatively effectively with others in a non-offensive manner. reports that as the use of wireless technology goes up, the rudeness of the people using the technology is getting worse. We all have horror stories of a fellow guest answering a cell phone at a wedding, funeral or school graduation. We tend to give the offenders an “icy glare” and go about our business.

Because salespeople are heavily technology wired they tend to be netiquette offenders. Bad manners can turn off potential clients. In this competitive marketplace don’t give clients a reason to seek out another agent.

Here are some guidelines to follow to make sure you aren’t a netiquette offender.

Cell phone tips:

▪ Take your Bluetooth earpiece out of your ear when talking to a client face to face. Do you meet with clients while holding your cell phone up to your ear? It’s the same thing. Take the Bluetooth earpiece out!

▪ When you meet with clients turn your phone to vibrate or silent. Nothing is ruder than continuing to answer your cell phone while you meet with someone. If you are expecting an urgent call, let the client know in advance. When the call comes in, excuse yourself and be brief.

▪ Speak softly and in a conversational tone. USA Today coined the term “Cell Yell” and it is so apt. Follow the 10-foot zone rule and maintain your distance from others in public places when talking on your cell phone. If you have to take calls in public places such as a restaurant, doctor’s office or coffee shop take the call outside.

▪ Staring at people is bad manners. If you see someone who appears to be muttering to themselves they may be talking on an inconspicuous cell phone earpiece or they may be crazy. Either way, don’t stare.

Email Tips:

▪ Use a signature line disclaimer i.e. “Sent from my Blackberry handheld” when responding to email from your handheld PDA such as a Blackberry or Treo. Chances are you will misspell words or butcher the grammar. The disclaimer gives you permission to make mistakes.

▪ Always respond to legitimate email messages and let the sender know you received the message.

▪ Use the subject line to inform the receiver of the nature of your message. Don’t try to trick people into opening messages with deceptive subject lines.

▪ If you are sending an email to a big list, don’t show the other recipients’ names and email addresses. Put the list in the blind carbon copy line, “Bcc”, so others can’t see who is on the list.

▪ Respond quickly. Proper netiquette requires a same day to 24 hour response time.

▪ Do not “reply all”. If you are responding to a group email, just hit “reply” vs. “reply all” so only the sender gets your response. The other recipients are not interested in your pithy comments.

▪ Keep your tone professional. Avoid slang, inappropriate language and/or offensive content.

▪ Don’t type in CAPTIAL LETTERS. This in considered shouting in the online world.

▪ Don’t use colorful backgrounds, different color fonts or “smileys”. Keep it professional. Many email programs do not accept unusual formatting and you would be surprised what your email looks like to the recipient.

▪ Use a business email account. is not an acceptable email account for professionals.

▪ Don’t use your email as a crutch to deliver sensitive news to a client. If the appraisal is a disaster or the financing has fallen through, call the client. Email lacks subtle cues like tone and body language.

▪ Watch your use of technology shorthand like BTW (By The Way) or LOL (Laugh Out Loud). Professional email messages should not contain acronyms usually reserved for instant messaging.

If you want to be an effective salesperson you will need technology. It is important that you are accessible and in touch with your clients. However, don’t abuse technology and ruin other’s experiences. I guess I will just have to drag myself to see Superman Returns again so this time when he leans in to kiss Lois Lane I can fully concentrate on moment! And ahhhhhh……what a SUPER moment!

Thank you for pointing out the importance of good manners among busy professionals. It astounds me how otherwise well-spoken, considerate individuals forget how to be courteous when a phone rings or a digital alarm sounds and immediately turn away from the person they are meeting with to attend to the electronic device. Others will continue to tap on their laptops or read mail while trying to hold a telephone conversation. Do they really think that this is an effective way to conduct business?

To sell anything, you have to build rapport and create trust with a customer. Giving someone your full attention is crucial in that process. How can you get to know someone when you're only half listening to them? Eventually, such "multi-tasking" proves ineffective because you never really connect with the person you were with or the one who was on the phone. You're just going thru the motions and trying to get as much done as possible.

Whatever happened to excusing yourself or waiting until the end of a meeting to return a phone call? Why is it so difficult for us to ignore devices but easy to ignore people? Can it be that the device eases our discomfort during awkward situations such as in-person meetings or difficult conversations?

I believe that a huge part of my success in sales and marketing is due to an ability to easily create rapport with others. It may be a natural talent; but, I think that what makes me successful is that I make it a point to give people my full attention. I leave my two cell phones, bluetooth device, Blackberry and laptop in the car when I'm in a meeting or don't use these devices during my presentation. I find that people, my customers in particular, appreciate me being fully present then we talk and react very favorably. They engage more and many Crackberry addicts even set it aside to enjoy a conversation with a live human being instead.

The greatest gift we can give each other is our presence. It is the most effective selling tool we have. Courtesy facilitates communication. It's just that simple!
Hi, Meredith -
Loved this blog on Netiquette. I'm one who gives an "icy stare!" I'm also very cognizant of how I might sound so I speak in low tones when I must talk on the phone in public. If I'm in my car, on the phone, I typically wait until I'm finished before getting out and going about my business.

While all this is so true and necessary for sales- and businesspeople, it's equally important in our personal lives.

Oh, and years ago, I did witness a ringing cell phone inside a church at a funeral. I was appalled. The guy hopped up and practically ran out of the church during the service, instead of just stopping the ringing. NOTHING is that important; and if it is (doctor, life and death situation, etc.), then put it on low vibrate.

Thanks again for bringing this to everyone's attention.

Your fave writer,
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