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What can you do to be more professional in business?

Article written by Jannie Rossouw, Head: Sanlam Business Market

It is my experience as a consumer and sample of one, that the level of professionalism in business is on the decline. The question, therefore, is what it means to be professional in our businesses and what can we do to improve our level of professionalism.

www.yourdictionary.com defines “professional” as “… performing a job to high standards …”

So what are “high standards”? This statement does not quantify the standard, but it does state that it should comply with an above average standard. Let us look at ways in which we can work on and possibly improve the levels of professionalism in our businesses. Are you able to tick off the statements and answer the questions that follow?

  • Knowledge
    Is the level of knowledge of our product and/or service top notch; i.e. can we advise and answer the questions of our clients? If not, we should consider training and improving the skills of ourselves and our staff.
  • Attitude
    Do we have a “can do” and positive attitude towards our clients? The whole sentiment in a business can change if clients sense a positive energy. Friendly and helpful staff will leave a lasting positive impression of our business on clients.
  • Respectfulness
    We should always be mindful that clients pay the bills. This implies, among other things, that we should be courteous to clients, mind our language and treat them in a respectful manner.
  • Value
    Are our clients receiving more value from us compared to their expectations? This does not necessarily mean that we need to give them “freebies”, but is does imply that we go the extra mile to satisfy their needs and resolve their challenges by offering them the most suitable product and/or service.
  • Correspondence
    Well-written e-mail and other correspondence (grammar and spelling), that also includes our logo/branding and contact details, will go a long way towards making us stand out from our competitors. When last did we review our client-directed and internal correspondence?
  • Marketing elements
    We all have websites, brochures and other client-directed collateral. Does it present a professional look and feel and, as important, does it clearly state our contact details and website address?
  • Physical appearances
    Do our offices or premises show clients that we have respect for our business and them? Is the branding on our premises and vehicles done professionally or has the sun eroded its appearance? Is our reception welcoming, neat and clean? Are our vehicles clean? Does our dress code and personal appearances show people that we are professional?
  • Service
    Do we answer our phones within a couple of rings? Is our POS (point of sale) staff courteous, friendly and service orientated? How do we treat clients when after-sales service is required? Are we living up to our promises? All these small events are touch points with our clients and add up to their collective experience of our business.

This is by no means a complete list of elements which we can consider to improve our level of professionalism. Maybe the most important measure is our own expectation – if I was a client of my business, would I be satisfied with the level of professionalism I experience? If not, you have your answer.

To support business owners with the important task of business planning, Sanlam gives you free access to the book Your Annual Business Game Plan for Success, which provides an easy and straightforward framework needed to draft a well-crafted game plan that will create the positive change and growth necessary for business success.

Go to www.sanlamgameplan.co.za to download your free copy.

Sanlam is a proud Partner of the NSBC.