Entrepreneurial Selling

Are you Breathing Smoke in Your Clients' Faces?

Written by Jay Shapiro for Gaebler Ventures

Even quite devoted smokers will confess that the smell of stale tobacco is seriously unpleasant. And while the move towards a smoke free society has seen a strong turn in recent years there are still, and always will be people who choose to smoke. Does that affect their potential success as business people?

Before we begin, let's be clear about one thing. This article isn't about trying to encourage people not to smoke.

Most smokers appreciate that it's not a great thing to do. What this piece looks at is the way that smoking can have an adverse effect on your business.

Even if you work from home and never have to meet your clients face to face, the fact that you smoke can damage client relations.

As a smoker you may be almost impervious to the unpleasant effects of stale tobacco odors. Non smokers however are not, so if you send products out from an environment in which cigarettes, pipes or cigars are smoked you will be sending out foul stenches too. Ironically it is often ex-smokers who are overly sensitive to tobacco smoke and there are people who are allergic to it too, so it's not a good idea to smoke around anything you need to send to someone else.

What impression does it give your clients if you send them these particular smoke signals?

In a sense it puts across an 'I don't care' attitude:

  • I don't care that the product I sent you stinks of stale smoke
  • I don't care about myself – because I smoke even though it's proven to be bad for me
  • As I don't care about the above, I am not likely to care about you or your needs

It is the last point that is perhaps the most important. The impression that you 'don't care', if it carries across to the client, is a really damaging one to give. One of the first rules of customer relations is to make the customer feel you care about them.

Consider: One of the key selling points that eBay sellers use is the claim "All items come from a smoke and pet free home. This makes a difference to the sort of buying decisions people make.

Even if you don't send out product or meet clients face to face you may still risk your professional reputation if you smoke. How so?

Here's the lowdown. You'll be aware that in romantic times gone by, and even today to an extent, lovers sent each other letters with a little of their cologne or perfume sprinkled on the paper. They did this, of course, in order that the recipient could experience a sensual evocation of them. And it worked, even when such missives had to travel many days by post, the scented letters retained their glorious aromas. This is because paper is odor absorbent.

Are you sending not no nicely scented documents to your clients? If you smoke when printing and posting out your receipts or invoices you almost certainly will be.

The same applies if you deal with your paperwork at home in the kitchen while dinner's being cooked. The garlicky aromas that so whet your appetite when you're hungry won't have such appeal if they are wafted at your client when he/she opens a letter from you.

We're not saying you need to liberally splash all your correspondence with L'air du Temp, but be mindful of the olfactory stimuli you are sending out.

Jay Shapiro is a freelance writer based in the UK. Jay has a particular interest in the emotive aspects of the entrepreneur's character. "Alongside the nuts and bolts of business, the character of the person is often the ingredient responsible for success."

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