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 We’d like to believe people pay more attention to what we do or say than how we look. However, people believe what they see far more than what they hear.

Abigail Dougherty

Abigail Dougherty - Straight Edge Solutions

My work is talking to business people. Sometimes I hire them. Sometimes they hire me. Sometimes we are peers meeting on a collaborative project or being a support team for one another. The more business people I work with, the more I realize that deal breakers often hinge on how you show up.  Here are five areas that can kill a business deal regardless of the product, service or price.

On time:

Everyone has a different definition of what “on time” means; however, few business people accept a 2:15 arrival as being on time for a 2:00 meeting. Calling 10 minutes before your appointment to let the other person know that you will be on time or are stuck in traffic is more professional than apologizing for being late. Many businesspeople plan to arrive 15 minutes earlier than scheduled to eliminate traffic concerns.


We’d like to believe people pay more attention to what we do or say than how we look. However, people believe what they see far more than what they hear. Deals can fail for a number of seemingly petty reasons such as unpolished shoes, unkempt hair or inappropriate dress. Most business people see attention to a professional appearance as a reflection of your attention to details in a job.  Having a dress code for your employees is a basic component of your business brand.Dressing well on a reasonable budget is one of the easiest areas to get expert help. There are many superb books on this subject published each year. Finding a qualified and unbiased advisor takes some research. Ask the most stylish person you know how they learned to be so well dressed. That can lead to a great discussion and access to their advisors.


Body language gives away your attitude even before you say a word. Slouching and scuffing your feet send a negative message in a business environment. Walking quickly with good posture and offering a firm handshake while looking the person in the eye sends a very different message. If you expect an important call, warn the other party up-front and make it the exception. Unless you are a transplant surgeon, the world will probably survive 60 minutes until you can get to your voice mail.Several months ago, I wrote about having a CAN – DO ATTITUDE. I remind you that it is the single most critical trait for helping people learn to trust you and for getting things done. It also makes you a lot more enjoyable to work with!


In a recent article about U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, one of her colleagues said, “You’ve got to be cognizant of the fact that when Susan Rice is present she’s going to be the most prepared, the most clear-thinking person in the room. So don’t come in the room unless you’ve done your homework.” Showing up unprepared and planning to “wing it” is a waste of your time and an insult to the other party. Most of us are too busy to be patient with time-wasters. We quickly drop them from our contacts. We don’t refer business to them and they get a reputation for being poor business people. Showing up prepared isn’t difficult. – Have a notebook and a pen with you – always! A small pen and notebook will fit even in the smallest purse.- Have business cards with you – always! You never know when you are going to have a great opportunity to solve someone’s business problem with your special product or service.- Know ahead of time how long the meeting will last and be sensitive to the other person’s time.- Have the other person’s name, phone numbers and business information with you so you can contact them easily on the way to the meeting if necessary.- Be clear on why you are meeting. If the other person simply wants to get to know you better and you come in with a sales proposal, both of you will be frustrated.- If it is a sales opportunity, what are the parameters and are you meeting with the decision-maker?  Always showing up at your best demonstrates respect for others and for yourself.

“Casualness leads to casualties” – Jim Rohn

Abigail DoughertyStraight Edge Solutions(for back office challenges) 503-297-5798Abigail@StraightEdgeSolutions.com