Professionalism (written May, 1999)

Professionalism – Why is it that I’m seeing less of it? Maybe I wrong, but it seems to me that over the years, people in our wonderful industry are showing less and less professionalism and more and more obnoxious behavior. Could this be one of the reasons our wonderful profession – Multi-Level Marketing and Mail Order – is still getting the “Rodney Dangerfield” syndrome in the business community?  Here is my short list of unprofessional behaviors which has occurred to me within this last month that need to be corrected:

Number One – I’m out of my office and a gentleman leaves a message on my answering machine. His message says, “I have to speak with you. It’s very important. Please call me back at…”  So, my first reaction is that this is a top priority.  So before I do anything else, I get on the phone and call this guy back.   I figure that he needs me right away so before I do anything else, I better help him.  Anyway I get him on the phone long distance and you know what?  He tried to recruit me into his Multi-Level Program – on my dime! Is he kidding? Do you think he signed me up? Fat Chance!  His first problem is that I didn’t ask to be called and I didn’t request any information regarding his program.  His second problem is that he never sent me information in the first place.  I don’t care if you call, which will be my “number two” complaint, but don’t tell me to call you back so you can recruit me into your program.  Calling you costs me money. If I want to speak with you about your program, send me the information and if I am interested, I’ll call you. Be professional.  Don’t leave misleading messages!

Number Two – In regard to “number one,” I don’t care if you call, whether I asked for the information or not.  If I am in, I’ll talk to you.  But when I say “no, I’m not interested”, don’t tell me 43 reasons why this program is “different” from the million others out there. Sure, try to handle my objections and try to sell me, but when I say “no, I’m not interested at this time”, respect what I say.  Let’s face it – if you aren’t going to respect what I say, why would I respect what you say? Your best bet in the first place is to run ads for free information regarding your program or service.  Ask for the inquirers phone number and then three days after you send the free information out, call up this potential prospect or customer.  This is the professional thing to do.  Call up people who requested information.  They want to hear from you!

Here’s a quick funny story.  I recently went to buy a car.  I went to several dealers and spoke to numerous salesman. I left my name, address, and phone number with each one.  I did not get a call from any of them – none – until 6 weeks after I bought a car.  What kind of professionalism is that?  The car dealer has a “hot prospect” and I get a call 6 weeks later? Could that be why “Car Dealerships” are just ahead of Multi-Level Marketing and Mail Order on the “Rodney Dangerfield” Syndrome scale?

Number Three – Going back to returning calls. I got a call from a guy the other day and he asked me to call him back.  I left 4 messages 4 days in a row before he returned my call.  He sells mailing lists and he wants to keep his list fresh and clean.  Is he kidding?  I told him to not only take me off his list now but a few other choice words about professionalism.  Could it be that Mailing List Dealers are part of this “Rodney Dangerfield” Syndrome for any specific reason?

Another guy called me and asked me to return his call.  No problem.  The only problem is that this guy had no answering machine and wasn’t home during the day.  I work 8AM – 6PM.  I don’t care if you work a full time job during the day or not.  That’s how I started.  But by golly, if you are going to leave a message on my machine to call you back, give me a daytime number with an answering machine!  Don’t tell me to call you back at a number that just rings and rings!  Be a little professional.  Spend a hundred bucks and get an answering machine! Oh one other thing!  When you leave a message on an answering machine, how’s about speaking slowly and clearly?  Some of us don’t write or hear too well.  Some lady, with an accent, left a message on the phone the other day that I couldn’t make out.  Not only did she speak with a thick accent, she was speaking a mile a minute.  How’s about being a little professional by leaving a clear, concise, message?

Number Four – Don’t accuse people of things.  Do you realize that if no one accused any one of anything, there would never have been a war ever!  Professionals do not point the other finger!  I got a call from a guy about two months ago.  My wife tried to answer his questions, but all he did was accuse her of this and accuse her of that.  Beside the fact he would not identify himself, how can anybody help you if you refuse to be helped.  If you have a problem with someone, be courteous, be polite, and be specific.  What is the problem?  How can it be resolved?  Be flexible.  Everyone has their opinion and opinions are like people rear ends – everyone has one – and they all stink!  If you have a problem with someone, be professional. Being professional also means dealing with members of the opposite sex!  Twice in the last month this happened.  One time a woman called me and refused to let me help her.  She had to deal with my wife or “no dice”!  It’s my business for crying out loud!  Another time, a man called and refused to deal with my wife. He had to speak with me. My wife probably knows as much about this business as I do.  In fact, she may know even more (Don’t tell her I said that!).   When you call a company, dealing with members of the opposite sex is part of professionalism – be professional!

OK – there you have it.  If we can all correct these unprofessional behaviors, maybe this industry can shed itself of the “Rodney Dangerfield” Syndrome.  What do you think? Drop me a line.  I’d like to know.

The author of this article is Larry Costello, President of All-American Print & Mail, 2200 Wilson Blvd #102-57, Arlington, VA 22201.