Don’t believe everything they say, believe what they do. And do right by your business—you’ll be glad you did.

I recently delivered a keynote address on referral sales at a company sales meeting, and I met several interesting and important (in the company) people. I typically offer to autograph my book, and I give it to the participant with my compliments. I include my business card with all of my contact information. And I always ask for their card in return.

Well, almost always. At this particular event several people told me they didn’t have a card (really?) and they would email me with their contact information.

I Goofed: No Business Card, No Contact

Well, you can guess the outcome—no email. Can I find these people’s information by using the company email convention and sources such as InsideView? Of course. But what if an individual is a senior resource who consults with the company or a is vendor partner who attended, and they’re not on LinkedIn? Where does that leave me?

Focus and Get Ahead

I was so intent on my presentation, and on connecting with the audience after the fact, that I got sidetracked. I was not focused on following up. I believed when these people said they “didn’t have a card.” (What sales professional doesn’t have a card. I mean, really.) This was a huge mistake. My mistake. Surprise, I never heard from any of them.

Connect and Level the Playing Field

First, not following up with someone when you promise to do so—especially when I gifted them with my book, and we shared some good ideas—is rude. Saying thank you is always appropriate.

Second, it’s disrespectful. And third, it’s an obvious (aren’t they all?) tactic to show they have the upper hand, and that I’m just a “vendor.” Do they really mean it? I’m not certain, and I’ll never know.

Be Polite, Be Appropriate, Be a Sales Winner

OK, I learned my lesson. From now on, I’ll have a different tactic. Don’t have a business card? OK, you should, but in lieu of that, I will write down your name, email, phone, and address. I might even claim I ran out of books and would be glad to mail one when I get back to my office.

That will cost me a bit of postage, but saves on hauling books from place to place. And it means that those who stand up and are the real sales professionals will win—and so will I.

Comment & Join the Conversation

What sales interactions really steam you? How and what do you resolve to do better and differently next time? Post your comments here and let’s all win by being the better sales pro.