Whether your company trades in the manufacturing or service sector of a market, to some degree or other, your main focus will always be on buying and selling. This means that, in order to expand your business, you will continually be making offers to customers and companies in the same field.
Equally, there will be times when you will have to make formal requests for information about a new product or service in that market, or for a possible wholesale purchase for your company.
In all of these activities, there will be a need for polite language that not only avoids confusion, but which also adopts the correct tone, helping you develop a close relationship with future potential customers and suppliers.
Here are a few things to remember when making offers and requests in business.
Because writing is quite different from face-to-face communication, and impoliteness can be imparted unintentionally, it is very important to use the correct tone when making a formal offer or request. As a result, a lot of care and attention to the wording of a request needs to be taken, and it is normal to use a lot more words than necessary to indicate politeness..
For example, if your request is for a brochure outlining a catalogue of prices for a new product, the following language could be used. "Would it be possible for you to send your price catalogue to my office at your earliest convenience?"
Now compare this to the following version, which uses fewer words, and note the difference in tone. "Are you going to send us your price list now?"
Clearly, the second version is much less formal and could be perceived as impolite under certain circumstances.
On the telephone
In general, just as spoken language is less formal than written language, offers and requests on the telephone are usually less formal than written ones. Therefore, when this happens, it is useful to be aware of this subtle convention. For example, when offering a new service from your company, some of the following language can be utilised.
"Hi, this is Glenda Jackson from GTZ Cosmetics. I'm calling to ask if you would like some information about our new service called Office Lips?"
Compare this to the following, which, if spoken on the phone, would seem stilted and unnatural.
"Good morning, this is Glenda Jackson from GTZ Cosmetics. I'm calling to ascertain whether your company would have some interest in the forwarding of information about our new executive service called Office Lips?"
Few customers would be interested in such a formal sales pitch, and the attempt would be unsuccessful primarily because the tone is completely wrong.
Similarly, just as there is a polite way to offer or request something, there is also a polite way to reject someone's proposal or request. Getting this wrong might mean your company could lose out on any future business with a customer or business.
The general rule of thumb is to give a reason why you are rejecting a proposal or request.
For example, if the request is for additional manpower at an on-site operation your company is involved in, and you either don't have the available personnel to send or this has not been included in the budget, you can use the following reason.
"I'm terribly sorry, but this will not be possible. All our available employees are engaged on other sites at this time. As soon as some become available, we'll be sure to send them."
Getting the tone right in business reduces the potential risk of misunderstanding and helps foster good working relationships.
For pointers on using the English language effectively and forcefully in business, visit http://www.CEC.co.th or contact Corporate English Consulting at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 02-248-8306 - 13.