Why saying "thank you" matters
Remember the last time a client, a boss or a co-worker gave you a handwritten thank-you note to say you were doing a good job? What about a client? Has one ever slipped you a gift card worth the price of a cup of fancy coffee just to show you their appreciation?
It felt good, didn't it? The gesture might even have prompted you to keep up the good work. You might have thought back to that gesture when you toyed with moving to a different company or switching to a cheaper vendor.
A little thank you goes a long way with employees
A gesture of appreciation does not have to be a gift. Simply saying "thank you" can go a long way toward improving morale, retaining valuable staff members and keeping your clients coming back. In fact, in survey after survey, more than 20 percent of employees have said:
- If they do not feel recognized for doing good work, they have recently applied for a different job—compared with 12 percent of employees who do feel recognized.
- More appreciation from the boss would make them happier at work.
- They prefer a written or verbal "thank you" over extra time off or gifts.
Saying "thank you" is a simple but powerful gesture. It can lay the foundation for a positive relationship with management, subordinates and co-workers when the time comes for you to ask someone to go the extra mile.
When people feel appreciated, they are likely to reciprocate
Showing appreciation builds goodwill. People appreciate being appreciated. Someone who feels appreciation from you is more likely to return the gesture by agreeing to your requests. They want to let you know that they appreciate you, too.
Professional salespeople—at least the good ones—know this. They keep in touch with their customers long after the sale is made. They thank them for their business. They check later to ask if the customers are happy with their major purchases. They ask what else the customer might need that they can offer.
It is all part of creating a "customer for life," and it is a strategy that any employee, manager or vendor can imitate in an effort to create good working relationships and agreeable clients, staff and co-workers.
A hand-written note makes a powerful impact
I employ a practice of my own that works for me. As a small business owner, I handwrite thank you notes on fancy paper and mail them in time for Thanksgiving delivery each year to every client, employee and vendor I have ever done business with—even former ones. When I find myself in need of a favour, a discount or a rush job, they're happy to help me.
In fact, most hiring managers say they expect a thank-you email from every job applicant who got an interview.
Especially if someone gives you something you really want, like a raise, a promotion, a job or new business, it's important to show your gratitude. Even if you did not get the raise or job you asked for, show appreciation to the person who spent time and consideration on your request. And do not show that gratitude just once. Continue to follow up with everyone who has helped you or considered it.
That kind of follow-up not only sets you up for positive results with this person in the future, but it signals that the professional relationship you want reaches far beyond a single transaction. It says you care enough to stay in touch.
Many ways to say thank you
You don't have to spend a ton or money or time saying thank you. Simple gestures can be just as powerful as grand ones. For example:
- A note—handwritten or via email—that includes a specific reference to something the recipient did for you or talked to you about can elevate a casual business relationship to a more important one.
- After crushing a deadline, an in-person pat on the back for a job well done—again, with specific mentions of achievements—lets an employee know that you notice and appreciate hard work.
- Posting a positive online review for a company or a service professional takes just minutes. But its impact can be enormous if it results in additional business for the vendor.
- Returning a favour after someone has done one for you tells the other person that the relationship is not one-sided.
- Some sincere words of appreciation can pick up an employee or coworker who is showing signs of burnout or depression.
- A gift card worth as little as $5 is still a gift. Hand them out to people who serve you year-round, like the person who delivers packages to your office, the agent at the rental-car company you frequent or the receptionist in the lobby of your building. Don't wait for the holidays; make it a surprise.
When you say "thank you" to someone who said "yes" to a request, you pave the way for the next "yes." Follow the lead of the most successful sales professionals whenever someone gives you something or does something for you: Realize that hearing a "yes" isn't the end the deal. It's the start of the next one.
Cindy McGovern, Ph.D., known as the "First Lady of Sales," speaks and consults internationally on sales, interpersonal communication and leadership. She is the author of "Every Job is a Sales Job: How to Use the Art of Selling to Win at Work." She also is the CEO of Orange Leaf Consulting, a sales management and consulting firm. For more information, visit, www.drcindy.com and connect with her on Twitter, @1stladyofsales and LinkedIn.