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Taking Charge Of Attitudes

By Bob McElwain
Posted Tuesday, April 1, 2003

A top type sales person can subtract themself from the scene while approaching a potential customer, smile, offer a hand, and in this, begin the selling task. Their preferences, views, attitudes, values, even their ego, are safely tucked out of the way. Nothing is allowed to interfere with the task of understanding the customer and fulfilling their needs.

Most small business people find it difficult to manage this well. In a shop, a smile and an offered hand, maybe. But even this is denied when you own an online business. You have only your site upon which to demonstrate your credibility and expertise. And words are the most effective tool you have at your disposal.

Build A Professional Image

To make the words work, consciously build a business self. A person who rises above or stands aside from bothersome negatives present in day to day living. Got a temper? Bury it. Want to argue? Don't. Are you one who believes deeply about things? Forget those convictions not related to doing business.

The latter can be particularly hard to do. If you favor your religion over others, your convictions must not be revealed on your site. Many will disagree, which is counterproductive. If you can't abide children, never let it show. There are an endless list of notions such as these that simply must be set aside in running a business.

Once you have defined that part of yourself you are willing to share with others, never depart from this definition, even momentarily.

Avoid The Risk Of Negatives

The above may seem harsh. I can picture many business people I know saying this isn't so. They take the position that its sufficient to let yourself shine through. Unfortunately, they are wrong.

We can't risk anything that may appear other than positive to our visitors. In short, we must always put our best foot forward. Always take care not to offend. Some of our convictions must be restrained, and never be allowed to "shine through."

Your religious, ethnic, and nationalistic convictions have no place in business. If you can't grasp this easily, ask yourself if you are willing to share your sexual convictions on your website. Or your attitudes toward the opposite sex.

A Disasterous Example

Years back I was gathered with about a dozen fellow teachers sharing our lunch break. Devoted brown-baggers, we had at least this in common. Groups were clustered here and there deeply involved in solving their vision of world problems. Two women were sharing cat stories.

Abruptly one teacher said to the group as a whole. "I hate cats. When I'm driving, I try to hit them."

The silence as they say was deafening. The two women who had been chatting about cats tossed a steady stream of angry darts with their eyes.

I think this was about the dumbest thing I've ever heard a person say. And I said so. The fellow glowered at me for a time, then left the room. He was substituting at the school for the day. I've always wondered if maybe it was such opinions, freely voiced, that prevented him from finding a permanent position.

If for a moment you doubt the need for accenting the positives and ignoring anything your visitors might construe as negatives, consider putting the above two sentences about cats on your site. Those who argue that the "real you" in all it's part should be visible at all times, should also try this.

It matters what we remain true to ourselves. But we must share only positive traits our visitors can relate to. We must accent the strengths in our life that enhance our business efforts, and avoid all else.

Utilizing Your New Self

Be professional in all ways. Always be upbeat and positive. No negatives are allowed. Ever. Go the extra mile when appropriate. And never ever break promises.

Never misrepresent yourself or your product. Never even exaggerate. In fact if you consistently undersell, you will always over-deliver which of itself assures satisfied customers likely to return for another purchase.

Take honesty to a grand extreme. Never even consider ducking a customer complaint or a request for a refund. Never ever mislead or take advantage of a visitor.

Good news gets about. And news of an honest site will as well. But news of a site perceived as dishonest spreads 10 to 20 times as rapidly. Frankly, few can afford this risk.

Honesty matters even more in what you say on your site. It matters most when seeking to demonstrate expertise. Include only information you know to be so and arguments you know to be sound.

If you haven't got the information or argument needed as you write, say so boldly. Your readers will accept a simple, "I'm not sure here, but it seems ..." If it's a point that matters, go find the facts, then rewrite this segment later.

Sure, you'll make mistakes. You'll be flat wrong now and then, despite best efforts. But most will not hold you pinned to the standard of perfection. A quick admission of error and a simple apology (Sorry, I goofed here.) are quite acceptable to most, provided all else is straight.

However, there is no way at all to "cover" or "apologize" for stated views with which your visitors disagree. You may in fact truly hate kids. But say so on your site, and you'll lose an awful lot of moms and grandmoms. Pops and grandpops, too. There are not a whole lot left when you subtract those who like kids from the general population.

While you may feel you are not being completely honest unless you share all your convictions, your social views are not what your visitors came to your site to discover. Share the expertise they need, do so completely and honestly, then quit while you're ahead.


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