When you’re in a new sales situation, making a good first impression is crucial. Even if you’re an expert in your product or service and you understand how to sell to your customer, a sale can be ruined by a bad first impression. Here are some things to keep in mind when meeting a new prospect…Some of these you may have heard before; however, I’m pretty sure you’ll be surprised by the last one.
- Arrive on time (or early).
- Dress appropriately for the situation. Over-dressing is safer than under-dressing; however, consider the environment and dress in an appropriate manner.
- Smile! This puts the other person at ease in the situation. It is possible to smile too much, so make sure it’s genuine and don’t overdo it.
- Be confident. Give a firm handshake, make eye contact, and stand tall
- Be human…and interesting. People feel more comfortable when they meet another person who demonstrates truly human characteristics.
- Talk more about the other person than yourself.
- Use the other person’s name. This makes them feel acknowledged and important. If you learn other names in your first meeting with a person (such as the names of their family members, pets, etc.) use these names in future interactions. This shows that you remember the people and things that are important to that person.
- Be positive in everything you do and say. Negativity does not add to your appeal as a person.
- Demonstrate your sense of humor. This helps relax the other person. Be sure to avoid lame jokes and don’t try too hard to be funny – this can actually detract from your appeal. Just let your innate humor come to the surface.
- Find a connection. Remember, people have better long-term memory if they draw a connection between what is being said and their immediate life. Find a connection with the other person (i.e., mutual interests, friends, experiences). This can lead to further conversation that will increase your appeal as a person.
- Before you leave the first meeting, write three things on the back of the person’s business card: where you met, something you discussed so that you can have a smooth transition in your follow-up communication, and what the next action step should be.
And now for the last pointer, which is a bit of secret sauce I’ve been using for years…Whenever you are about to enter someone’s office for the first time, close your eyes and imagine that this will be the FOURTH time you’re placing your hand on that doorknob. The human mind is often unable to tell the difference between reality and richly imagined images of reality. And here’s the best part…If your mind is convinced that you’re revisiting this prospect for another productive interaction rather than meeting them for the first time, how are you likely to come off? Your nervousness is gone. Your confidence is sky high. Your body language, your facial micro-expressions, and all of those other dimensions that constitute the “first impression” you make will be glorious, setting the stage for a genuinely productive interaction. Try it. You’ll be amazed.
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