Everyone knows how important a first impression is in day-to-day life. A good one can mean scoring a date with your future spouse or landing a great job. However, for salespeople, first impressions are 10 times more important. This is not only due to the fact that the first impression starts the sale off on the right foot, but also because sales guys need to make good impressions frequently. In fact, first impressions should be something sales professionals drill down to a science. If your first impression with a client or a prospect is off, no amount of charm will likely help you recover.
I remember a sales call I went on with one of my sales reps at one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. Unfortunately, he didn’t make the best impression. He exhibited what I call “typical sales guy issues”, meaning he didn’t listen, didn’t let the prospect talk enough and gave the impression he didn’t give a shit and just wanted to make a sale. Needless to say, it didn’t go over well and we lost the deal.
What Should You Do?
So instead of showing up like a royal asshole, here are 5 things you can do instead to actually start off on the right foot.
1. Mind Your Ps and Qs. It’s important to remember to be extra polite and considerate when you “open” an account. In sales, we’re often the first person a prospect talks to from our company, so we need to be respectful. Asking them if they have the time to talk is a good place to start. It’s also important to tell them up front why you’re reaching out to them, and be sure to make it personal by doing your research beforehand.
2. Go Slow and Build Rapport. Next, as sales reps, we’re paid by the deals we close, which means we’re always in a hurry. We really need to slow down and get to know the person we are meeting. That can be counterintuitive, and in fact, I think that’s what drove the sales rep in my opening story to push too hard with our pharma prospect. Fight this instinct by taking the time to build rapport and get to know the person behinnd the account. This will pay off more than rushing client to client.
3. Assume Everyone Likes You. Most sales reps don’t need be like Stuart Smalley and say “”I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And doggone it, people like me,” but studies have found that if you assume everyone likes you, more people actually will.
4. Be Animated! Studies have also shown that people who communicate in an expressive and animated fashion, tend to be liked more than difficult-to-read people. You will come across as more open, honest and genuine- truly caring about what you are saying. (Hopefully you really do!)
5. LISTEN. Lastly, even though you have your brain full of features and benefits you can rattle off, don’t. Slow down and ask questions first. It is much more powerful to tie the features and benefits directly to your prospects’ problems.
Now Go Get Them!
Now you know the basics of what you need to do to make a good first impression. Even though you have a quota to meet and bills to pay, you have to remember that as a salesperson – you are really a problem solver. You can’t offer up 10 solutions to meet your quota, without fully understanding the 10 problems first. Don’t be the guy who marches in with “typical sales guy issues”, only to walk away empty handed.
Look at each prospect as having a problem you need to uncover. This requires asking questions, building rapport and listening. As for being liked, it will happen naturally, because who doesn’t like someone who is in tune with their needs and has sound solutions to offer. Then remember to speak with animation, knowing you are selling value. With these principles, you will be able to make the all-important GOOD first impression.