One of the world’s greatest credibility boosters is doing what you say you will do. In other words, be true to your word. Keep your promise. This is inarguably the mark of a true professional. Not only that, but it is universally recognised as the sign of a quality human being.
As one of the oldest and most revered values of the human race, this one is like a golden ticket to the esteem of others. Be true.
Of course, it’s also hard work. And it implies a two-prong approach: On the one hand, once you have agreed to do something, you should do it; on the other hand, you shouldn’t agree to do anything you don’t believe you will do.
It’s a sign of immaturity to say yes to every request just because you hate to disappoint people. You will just disappoint by not holding true to your commitment. You have to be selective. Sometimes, saying no is a sign of maturity.
And it’s often the simple things that really count here: Returning a call, finding the contact details that someone requested, sending that email that you promised. The important thing is to be consistent.
Don’t become known as the person who doesn’t respond… the person who is a constant frustration to deal with.
Of course, it applies to the big deal stuff as well. I know of at least two speakers who have disappointed their agents — the same ones who I work with — and been taken off their books as a result. Imagine the consequence of not doing what you said you would once, and losing all your future business from one revenue stream as a result!
In my industry, that constitutes career suicide. These speakers should have done everything in their power to woo their agents back. I can tell you that they didn’t. And in this way, careers are made and broken. Professionals are born and abolished.
Be true to your word. The alternative is not worth it.
If you’re honest with yourself, when last were you not true to your word?
Be the one who responds
Let’s go one step beyond doing what you say you will. Let’s look at the idea of turning ‘response’ into a proactive technique that actually sets you apart.
Sounds simple, but it’s a big deal. One of my agents once confided in me that she uses me on a regular basis, instead of other equally skilled speakers on her books, just because I respond more rapidly and more professionally. This means I’m making more sales, and earning more as a result of this concept, and this makes it an expert positioning technique.
A big part of the perception of professionalism is based on whether and how swiftly you turn around your communications. So always check and return emails and voicemail, even if you have to do it late in the evening. Of course, immediately is better than late in the evening.
I can’t count the number of times I have emailed multiple service providers asking for quotes, only to give the sale to the person who responded quickest.
Equally, I can’t count the number of times that two out of three service providers just didn’t bother to respond at all. That’s pathetic. And that puts you one business transaction down on your competitors and damages your brand.
Also, don’t assume that you know what a person wants. Just because you see a missed call from ‘that guy’, don’t assume that you know what the message might be.
I made that mistake once (ironically, with the same agent who’s usually impressed by my communication), when I believed she wanted to chat about a certain issue. At the time, we had a large corporate client who had been treating us in an unethical manner.
I received my agent’s text message asking me to give her a call. Instead of calling back, I wrote an email expressing my views on the matter and then carried on with my life. Three days later, she called me, pointing out that she had a completely different assignment that she’d been wanting to discuss with me.
My hesitation in returning the initial communication meant I’d compromised my chances of landing the new assignment, and annoyed my agent. Bad move.
Are you in the habit of returning all communications quickly?
This article is an excerpt from Douglas Kruger’s new book, Own Your Industry.