Make a Positive First Impression Within Seconds
1. Employ Basic Social Graces. Pleasantries such as shaking hands and introducing yourself may not seem important, but they make a difference to the clients you're prospecting. In many business situations, a firm handshake communicates that you're a professional. When accompanied with a smile and eye contact, your handshake demonstrates that you're confident and friendly. Likewise, introducing yourself provides an easy segue for the main topic of your sales call.
2. Speak Clearly. No matter how well you introduce yourself or offer up an effective sales pitch, your efforts will fall flat if you don't speak clearly. The ability of a potential client to easily understand you is a critical part of the first impression you make. Whether you're communicating in-person, over the phone or by way of a 30-second commercial, your words should be enunciated well and spoken with sufficient volume. Working with a coach or mentor can help you identify problems in this area and correct them.
3. Communicate with Substance. The first 11 words that come out of your mouth contribute heavily to the first impression you make. Once you get past introductions, speak with substance. Rather than beating around the bush (which can be viewed as a waste of time), use your words to reinforce the Up-Front Contract that you established on the phone as the purpose of the meeting. "As we discussed on the phone, you’re struggling with XYZ. Which issue would you like to start our discussions with today?
4. Appearance, Attitude and Body Language. Before one word comes out of your mouth, you will already be making a first impression with your appearance, attitude and body language. Be well-groomed and appropriately dressed for the prospective client you’re approaching. Smile and use good posture to convey a friendly, positive attitude. Keep your arms relaxed by your sides and make eye contact to let possible clients see that you're approachable. The way in which you present yourself before speaking will make the clients you're prospecting more receptive to your words.
5. Make a Positive Digital Impression, Too. The digital footprint you leave via social media is equally as important as the first impression you make in person or on the phone. Nowadays, a salesperson or small business's first impression is often made via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or email. Use your mission statement as a guideline to generate your first impression on social media, and then make sure each of your social profiles reflect your mission statement. Even though communication on social media tends to be more casual, it’s important to present yourself in a professional manner.