Chances are that you’ve read numerous books and articles on what to do to succeed in business. But often, knowing what not to do is even more important. In order for your company to make more money, be sure you’re not inadvertently making any of these top 10 business mistakes.
Mistake #1: Prejudging your customers.
They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but all too often business owners prejudge their prospects and customers before ever talking with them. How many times have you met someone and thought, “I doubt he can afford my product,” “She looks like she’d be impossible to work with,” or “This person isn’t my ideal client”? Rather than prejudge and dismiss what could be your next best customer, suspend judgment and take the time to get to know each prospect and client.
Mistake #2: Taking too long to follow up.
If someone calls or emails to inquire about your products or services, how long does it take you to get back with them? While many business owners think it’s OK to reply within three days, you really need to get back with people within 24 hours or less. After all, if they’re contacting you for information, they are likely contacting your competitors as well.
Mistake #3: Not working with someone because of imagined slights.
If someone is having a bad day or is not feeling well, they may say or do things that you think are meant in a mean way. For example, a prospect may ask, “How did you get into this business?” But because of their demeanor that day, or because they’re rushed, or because of any number of other reasons, their question might come across to you as though they asked, “How did you of all people get into this business because you certainly don’t look smart enough to do this?” Never take anything a customer says or does as a personal attack. It usually isn’t.
Mistake #4: Making prospects and customers feel unimportant.
People want to know that they’re more than just another sale to you. They want to feel that you really care. For example, one business owner was stumped as to why one of the company’s best customers stopped buying. Finally she asked the customer what happened, and the customer explained that in the past the business owner had had always taken her out to lunch once per quarter, and they hadn’t done that for nearly six months. As a result, the customer felt that she no longer was important. Upon hearing this, the business owner promptly took the customer out to lunch, and she got a sale. Therefore, take an active interest in your customers. Remember their birthdays. Send them a small gift on the anniversary. Do whatever you can to make each customer feel special.
Mistake #5: Not letting your staff handle important issues.
When there’s an issue with a customer, can your staff take care of most of the situations? Or must everything wait for you to resolve it? When you make customers wait for you to get an issue resolved, you’re giving them extra time to stew over the situation and get angrier. Instead, give your staff the training and tools to handle whatever situation arises so they can make the customer happy right away. Remember, you want your customers to always leave your store or office happy and with all their issues resolved. That’s the best way to ensure repeat business.
Mistake #6: Being inflexible with your hours.
We all want life balance, but sometimes work is not a 9-5 job. You have to be flexible if you want to get the sale. That means if you have a good lead or a customer who is ready to spend money with you now, you may have to work outside your normal business hours. So be open to returning phone calls after business hours or even meeting with a client on a weekend. You can always balance out the extended hours you put in one day by taking time off another day.
Mistake #7: Waiting too long to make an important decision.