Your Last Chance to Make a Good First Impression

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jun 14, 2019 @ 08:06 AM

first-impression

Most salespeople don't take first impressions seriously enough. If they did, their first impressions would be much more favorable.

I can still remember my first (unintentional) lesson about first impressions.  My family was gathered at my grandfather's house to watch the debut of the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan show.  It was February 9, 1964 and at 8 years old, I was one of seventy-three million people watching the show that night.  I was as excited about this show as I would be later that same year when I attended my first Red Sox baseball game at Fenway Park.  That is pretty excited! 

Sitting on the carpet, I was completely focused on seeing and hearing The Beatles play five of their hit songs, but my mother was doing color commentary from the plastic covered sofa behind me.

She said, "He's cleaner than the other 3", referring to Paul McCartney, who had straighter teeth, and a face more suitable for the mop top hair style shared by the four of them.

There it was, my first lesson in judging people by how they looked, and more specifically, what "clean" did and did not look like.

We were all exposed to unintentional lessons like that when we were young and those lessons stay with us today.  My father was an optometrist and around a quarter of his patients were on welfare.  While they were entitled to the same eye examination as everyone else, they were not allowed to choose from the same selection of eye glasses  and were not allowed to wear contact lenses - unless they could pay the difference.  Therefore, I assumed that anyone I saw wearing "those glasses" must be on welfare.

15 years later, when I was in the music business, a man who looked like he spent the night sleeping on the side of the road, bought the most expensive guitar I had in stock.  He paid cash.

Enough for the trip down memory lane.

When you are in sales, your first impression has been made the moment a prospect sets eyes on you, and based on how that prospect reacts, you, in turn, create a first impression of them.

Objective Management Group (OMG), which has evaluated or assessed 1,869,505 salespeople, has a finding I haven't written much about called Sales Posturing.  In a nutshell, Posturing measures first impressions, how memorable you are, and how effectively you differentiate yourself from the competition. In the table below, you'll see scores for Posturing,  as well as Relationship Building which is one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies. 

posturing-relationships

While there is a correlation between both sets of scores and the overall effectiveness level of salespeople, the difference in scores is minuscule in comparison to creating urgency, The 21 Sales Core Competencies, Closing, and 5 Scores Related to Money.  This proves my point that most salespeople, even the great ones, do not pay enough attention to the quality of their first impressions.

How much focus have you given to how you make your first impression?  Here are 10 things you can control to assure that you make a great first impression.  For a lot of these, Goldilocks and  the Three Bears will be a good guide.  Not too much, not too little, but just right:

  1. Your smile
  2. Your handshake
  3. Your confidence
  4. Your outfit
  5. Your hair
  6. Your first words
  7. Your tonality
  8. Your trustworthiness
  9. Your approach
  10. Your authenticity

Thirty-three years ago, when I was far less experienced in the sales development space, my first impressions were not very good and it was represented by the quality of my clients at the time.  Fortunately, thirty-three years provides a nice, long runway for improvement!

Selling, and especially consultative selling, is difficult enough without having to dig out of the hole created by first impressions gone wrong.  You rarely get a second chance to make a first impression so remember, every encounter provides you with your last chance to make a good first impression.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, relationship building, assessment, omg, the beatles, objective management group, Ed Sullivan

Can Music Make Your Sales Force More Effective?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Feb 14, 2011 @ 11:02 AM

beatles - revolutionThe Beatles?  Revolution?  Yes, when I listen to the radio or my iPod, certain songs take me right back to the time when that song was first popular.  I can tell you exactly where I was and what I was doing when I hear songs like, And The Beat Goes On, Revolution, 25 or 6 to 4, If You Leave Me Now, I'm Easy, Unforgettable, Have I Told You Lately, We Are the Champions, Good Bye Yellow Brick Road, Mockingbird, Long Train Runningg, Kodachrome, Cracklin' Rosie and dozens more. Some of these tunes go back more than 45 years! Some of them are not even favorites, yet they all have Time Machine capabilities.  Does this happen to you too?

The exact same thing takes place on sales calls, in training, coaching and even reviewing the findings from a sales force evaluation.  When somebody says something I've heard before, it takes me right back to the first time I heard that comment.  Does that happen to you too?

It's actually desirable for this to happen to your salespeople - as long as they respond appropriately to the effect.  They shouldn't ignore the impulse, nor should they assume that because somebody said the exact same thing that led to a favorable outcome 8 years ago, that a favorable outcome will occur this time too. 

We want them to remember the unfavorable outcomes that occurred when those words were last uttered.  Then they should say something like, "You know, the last time someone said that to me, what they really meant was.....  Is that what you really mean?"  Then they can force their prospects' thoughts to the forefront of the conversation and discuss them, rather than let happy ears guide them to a feel-good-about-the-call false sense of security.

Do you do that too?

sales force evaluations

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, Sales Coaching, the beatles, sales effectiveness, sales development

Can the Beatles Help You Close Big Deals?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jan 07, 2010 @ 23:01 PM

Perhaps. Back in the 60's, three companies were competing for attention. But they weren't retailers, manufacturers or service providers. Despite that, they had features and benefits that caused people to follow and buy from them.  Some people didn't care for any of the three and bought from alternative sources.  Some preferred just one or the other.  And some bought from all three.  They were the big winners of their day.  Who were they?  Try The Beatles, The Beach Boys and The Rolling Stones.  Check out the following table which, if they were traditional sellers, could have been used to tout their features and benefits.

Feature/Benefit

 Beatles

Beach Boys

 Stones

Angelic Harmonies

 

 x

 

Sounds of Summer

 

 x

 

Musicianship

 x

 

 

Rhythm Section

 

 

 x

Blue Collar Sound

 x

 

 x

Foot Tapping Sound

 x

 x

 x

Sophisticated Arrangements

 x

 

 

Made in the USA

 

 x

 

Catchy Melodies

 x

 x

 x

Love Songs

 x

 

 

Songs about Girls, Cars and Surf

 

x

 

Dynamic Front Man

 

 

 x

You may argue with my analysis but my analysis is not the point. 

The point is that you may be just like one of these market leaders - or not.  One mistake that companies make is they say, "Let's do the things those other guys are doing and then we'll be all things to all people and increase our sales."  Can you imagine the Stones singing like the Beach Boys?  Yuck.  Or the Beach Boys getting all gritty like the Stones? 

When companies become all things to all people they lose their following.  They lose their edge, their niche, their appeal.  Rather than trying to be everything to everyone, ask yourself how many more followers, buyers, customers and clients you would have if you simply improved on what you already do.  The Beatles did that.  So didn't the Beach Boys.  Stones too.

What happens if you're not a leading band but you're simply a one man show - a singer, songwriter, or recording artist like Neil Diamond or a small business?  How does Neil Diamond compete with The Beatles?

That was the topic on this week's edition of Meet the Sales ExpertsMy guests were Sales Development Experts Tom Schaff and Andy Miller and they contributed some brilliant ideas as they spoke about the work they do to help small companies land huge deals.  You won't want to miss this show.

Click here to listen.  Click here to contact Tom.  Click here to contact Andy.

 

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales tips, Tom Schaff, the beatles, rolling stones, closing big deals, andy miller, beach boys

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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