The easiest thing to leave behind in a meeting is a promise to provide some information, a quote or to take some action. After that, the easiest thing to do is to lose credibility because you don’t follow through on your promise.

How many times have you experienced that from someone you know? And what in particular annoys you most?

For me, the most unforgivable is the unwillingness of the “promisor” to bother to at least make contact to let the “promisee” know there is a delay. That and the lack of a proposed remedy or course of action.

Circumstances change, and things happen that can’t be controlled.

What can be controlled though, is our time and courtesy. It takes a bit of effort, but it may well mean the difference between success and failure. It may mean winning or missing an order. It may result in a referral coming your way instead of a to a competitor.

Evidence suggests that simple courtesy makes everyone feel they are important. It acknowledges that you value their time. Courtesy enhances a relationship, even when there may be disappointment attached.

I recall a situation where one of my acquaintances (call him Bill) was looking to place a substantial order for some machinery. His supplier representative fielded the initial enquiry.

After a couple of weeks during which time nothing was heard, Bill rang an alternate supplier of the same item and negotiated a price for comparison. He was told the item had just cleared Customs and had now come into stock. As the price was very competitive with his usual supplier, Bill placed the order and took delivery.

A few days later, Bill received a phone call from his usual sales representative who told him that the item was now in stock. He was very surprised when Bill said that he had placed the order elsewhere. When he heard the representative’s story of how he had been waiting for the item to clear Customs, Bill explained that had he known the situation, he would have placed the order with him, without shopping around.

This situation illustrates the point – even when you have less than good news, communicate the position and you may still have a satisfied customer.