First impressions happen very fast. Salespeople always ask me, "What is the best way to close?" I always respond, "The moment you meet someone, look them in the eye and shake their hand." If they don't have a favorable first impression, you won't go any further. The more people like and trust you, the easier each stage of selling becomes.
- If you're like me, you're parents might have told you to never judge a book by its cover. We're told the same applies to people, don't make snap judgments. Unfortunately, we can't control what others think of us, so we need to be aware of two crucial things. First, first impressions are often lasting impressions, and second, our first impressions happen very quickly. In sales, you want to make sure you put forth the right impression as quickly as possible, because doing so will enhance your authority and make it much easier to move to the next step in the sales process.
Why are first impressions often lasting and so quick? Because humans have the ability to make assessments of other people with surprising accuracy with very little to go on. In one study, students who viewed a 15 second video clip of a professor were asked to rate the professor like students would at the end of the semester. With only 15 seconds to go on, their ratings were astonishingly close to students who had the professor the entire semester. This happens quickly at the subconscious level, because our sense take in all kinds of stimuli that never register as conscious thought.
What does this mean for you? Anything that's within your control should be controlled. A handful of things to consider include dress. Dress for success is more than a catchy phrase. You will be judged on your appearance. Always consider the audience and dress one level up. Grooming. If you look disheveled and messy, the other person won't see you as an authority, and will probably assume you're disorganized. Promptness. Time is money, so arrive a few minutes before your meeting starts and don't overstay your welcome.
Eye contact. People who look others in the eye are viewed as more confident, so if you want to instill confidence in those that you meet, make sure you look them in the eye. And handshake. People used to seal deals with a handshake. Today, we rely on contracts, but the handshake is still critically important when you meet someone in person. Just looking someone in the eye shows confidence; so does a firm handshake. Consider the following. Dress doesn't change your past, and you may be every much the expert in jeans and a t-shirt as you are in a suit.
Arriving a few minutes late may not be a big deal to you, but what about the person you're meeting? Not looking someone in the eye might mean you're just a little shy. A weak handshake in no way means you're not very good at your chosen profession. But dress, grooming, promptness, eye contact, and your handshake, all leave an impression on the other person, so why leave any of them to chance? Especially when each is so easy to work on and will enhance your authority in the eyes of the prospect. I often have sales people ask me the best way to close the sale, and I routinely tell them, the best way to close the deal begins the moment you meet the prospect, look them in the eye, and shake their hand.
Everything starts with the initial meeting and builds from there. Do the basics well, and it's easier to move to the next step in the sales process.
- Reaching out to prospects
- Developing a rapport with customers
- Making a good first impression
- Giving a successful presentation
- Providing the correct amount of options
- Handling objections
- Understanding the value equation
- Closing the sale
- Asking for referrals