The importance of making a positive first impression with your new prospects and clients is well-understood among most VARs and others in the IT sales space, but figuring out exactly how to increase your chances of achieving that goal in each and every situation can be a more difficult task than it may at first appear.
The concept of a strategic, carefully considered approach to first meetings is what sales gurus refer to as ‘impression management,’ and it’s all about learning how to assess each situation and fine-tune your approach as circumstances unfold and evolve.
Each sales situation you’re likely to encounter is defined by a plethora of factors and variables, only a handful of which you can fully control. However, armed with just a few basic tactics and techniques, you can train yourself to respond in a way that will present you and your firm in the best possible light.
If you want to rev up your ability to create a positive first impression, incorporate a few of these simple techniques into your new-client toolkit.
- Endeavor to be the ideal guest. When it comes to making a positive first impression, every detail counts. Strive to be thoughtful, considerate, and unfailingly polite to everyone you encounter, from the parking attendant to the receptionist.
- Take pains to err on the side of formality. When you want to project warmth and friendliness, it’s easy to make the mistake of taking a casual, laid-back approach to initial greetings and small talk. However, an overly familiar personal style can be off-putting. Take cues from your client and the organizational environment and adjust your approach accordingly, but when in doubt, it’s better to come off as a smidge too formal rather than inappropriately casual.
- Learn to read, decode, and respond to seemingly small details. The art of impression management is tied closely to your ability to notice often-overlooked details, cues, and signals. Train yourself to be more perceptive, particularly when it comes to facial expressions, gestures, and non-verbal communication. By paying close attention to your new client’s responses, you can fine-tune your own behavior and make immediate, real-time improvements.
- Overprepare, but don’t overwhelm your prospect with information. Every sales pro knows that research is an important component of a successful new client meeting. What’s more difficult to discern, however, is how much of this raw data you should unleash in an initial interview. According to many of the top sales gurus, the answer is: exactly as much as the situation calls for – no more, no less. Rely on your powers of perception to discern whether your client is more focused on facts and figures or hunches and gut feelings, and tweak your approach accordingly.
- Aim to convey sincerity, warmth, and openness. To a large extent, our positive or negative first impression of an individual is based on whether or not we view them as honest and trustworthy. Although sales professionals have a vested interest in playing some cards close to the vest, you can improve your ability to make a positive first impression by engendering a sense of genuineness and transparency through your facial expressions, gestures, and body language. If you’re unsure about how best to do this, research verbal and non-verbal communication to find out more about how you can most effectively convey these positive attributes through speech and gestures.
How do you encourage your sales team to prepare for their initial meetings with prospects and new clients? What’s your single best piece of impression management advice? Let us know what you think in the comments.