Most salespeople know that making a good first impression sets the tone for the entire sales process. However, they often don’t understand when making the first impression really begins. It is not the moment they introduce themselves to the customer and begin building rapport.
A first impression begins the moment a customer lays eyes on a salesperson.
This includes the following:
1. A customer walking into your business and seeing the salespeople all huddled up like they’re waiting for their next victim to mug.
2. Noticing the sales person standing around the corner taking one last drag from his cigarette before approaching with a nicotine-stained hand and breath that smells like an old ashtray.
3. Watching out of the corner of her eye as the salesperson shuffles out to wait on her with the enthusiasm of someone who just lost a coin toss and had to wait on her as “punishment.”
4. Seeing the salesperson quickly finish their sandwich or drink before coming over to try and sell a service or product.
5. The uncombed hair, unshaven face, dirty finger nails, scuffed up shoes, wrinkled shirt or trousers, and a number of other hygiene offences that are too distasteful to mention in this article.
6. When the customer overhears the dirty joke or the burst of expletives as “the lads” across the room huddle up and talk about the football match last night or the party they crashed.
You get the point. Salespeople begin making a first impression the second a customer sees you or hears you.
They are on display all day, every day. Take a look at the team. What would your impression of them be if this were your first encounter with them?
Managers become desensitised to the unprofessional appearance and demeanour of their people by virtue of being around them all day. Step back and put yourself into the customer’s shoes. Salespeople have enough trouble overcoming negative stereotypes without self-destructing by making negative first impressions. This is an area we can and should be in control. Remember that what your salespeople “are” in the customer’s eyes, shouts so loudly at the customer that they can’t even hear what the salesperson is saying, when what they “are” is offensive.
Work on appearance and first impressions this week. Raise the standards and ask your team to place themselves into the customer’s shoes. If they took a look in the mirror, would they buy from whom they see? How much would they be willing to pay? First impressions last forever. This can be good news or really bad news, depending on the impression. Make sure it’s the right one. It sets the tone for the rest of the process. Some customers are forgiving of a poor impression, but most are not.
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