Making a Great First Impression

When you meet someone for the first time, subconsciously you form an opinion of that person in the first few seconds.  These are called snap judgments, and they’re formed in the “blink” of an eye.  In fact, best selling author Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink supports this theory.

Rightly or wrongly, the first few seconds of an initial meeting with a prospect can determine the success or failure of your efforts. Therefore, first impressions are extremely important, and you’d be smart to put your best foot forward.

Here are a few things to remember if you want to make a great first impression.

  • Dress professionally, yet appropriately for the occasion.
  • Be on time – actually five minutes early is perfect.
  • Relax and take a deep breath before you go in. Remind yourself that this call is not a life and death situation.
  • Be ready with a sincere “Good morning, Lisa. Thanks for taking the time to see me.” or “Hi, Bob.  It’s nice to meet you.”  “Howyadoin?” doesn’t win many points unless you’re calling on beer joints in Brooklyn.
  • Match the person’s handshake. If they give you a limp handshake, back off from your usual vice-grip.
  • Look them in the eye (but don’t overdo it).
  • If they ask you if you want coffee or water, decline unless they are having something to drink. Then walk back to the coffee place with them.  They’re not your server.
  • Don’t sit down until they offer you a chair and sit up straight.
  • Know exactly what you will say to open the meeting, just in case your prospect gets lockjaw. You could mention something you saw in the lobby that caught your interest; you could have a question ready about something you discovered in your pre-call research.
  • Be as prepared as possible for the meeting – it will boost your confidence tremendouslyu.
  • Make sure you’ve paid attention to personal hygiene issues before you arrive.
  • If you’re a smoker, be aware that the tobacco smell on your clothes and breath is offensive to many people these days.
  • By all means be ready with your Meeting Agreement.

We realize that a lot of this is just basic common sense, but you’d be surprised how often some of these things are forgotten.  A review of the basics never hurts.

Self-Study Assignment:  Think back on some meetings you’ve had with customers, prospects, or even salespeople where the first impression has been either extremely negative or positive.  What happened to create that first impression?  Evaluate your approach with new people you’re meeting and incorporate as many of the above ideas as possible.