Recently, I had an experience that reminded me how important first impressions are. If you’re a salesperson, getting this right needs to be a top priority!
Your first impression can literally make or break a deal—and research has shown that people start determining whether you’re trustworthy in as little as a tenth of a second. What they decide within the first seven seconds of meeting you can influence the rest of your relationship!
Unfortunately, that’s not enough time to rely on your interesting background or your subtle sense of humor. Whether you want to be or not, you’re getting judged at every moment—and the impression you make is mostly based on appearance. This includes:
- Your posture
- The way you walk
- Eye contact
- Your smile
- The way you’re dressed
- How you shake hands
First impressions are head-to-toe. With a bit of attention, every one of these factors can project confidence and positivity. If you’re careless, your body language and appearance can send the wrong message to your client.
Be First – Show Up Early
You might even be making a first impression before your meeting begins—without knowing it! Before you walk into an organization, can they see you when you’re walking in? What about in the parking lot when you’re still in the car? Did the office see you pick your teeth in your rearview mirror, then watch as you tucked in your shirt and put a belt on?
By the time you’re shaking people’s hands, your seven seconds are long gone. Whoops.
This is why I always show up early to every meeting—especially when it’s at a restaurant or coffee shop. When I’m the first to show up to an appointment, it gives me control over my first impression—I get to choose where we sit and how I present myself. In addition, being first shows that this meeting is important to me.
Things Haven’t Changed!
The recent experience I mentioned was a job interview. Even though we were meeting at a coffee shop, this was still a business meeting. I showed up early, in standard business attire, and got situated.
I saw a woman park her car outside and get out, but I didn’t think she was the candidate I was about to interview. She was wearing full athleisure wear. I assumed she was just grabbing a coffee on her way to the gym—until she introduced herself.
She told me that with everyone working at home, she didn’t believe business attire was really relevant post-COVID. The “new normal” was yoga pants—all day, every day.
That’s certainly a liberating opinion. Unfortunately, it gave me the impression that she didn’t take the interview—or the job—seriously.
Even when working from home, first impressions matter. The “new normal” didn’t change this. You’re still being judged, consciously or unconsciously, when you join a Zoom call. Sure, you don’t have to worry about your shoes, but now you have to worry about your audio quality, your background, and your lighting!
Know Your Audience
Obviously, workout clothes wouldn’t necessarily make a bad impression on me if I owned a gym and was interviewing trainers. But on our company website, it’s pretty obvious that we wear business attire and work with professionals who do as well. It’s important to know your audience.
If you’re selling financial products to the CFO of a major corporation, an impeccable suit and careful grooming might go a long way towards a positive first impression. If you’re selling roofing to construction contractors, formal business attire might come off as ridiculous. You simply need to tailor your appearance to make the best impression on your audience.
First Impressions Matter!
Remember: If they can see you, you’re making an impression. The confidence and positivity you project can be the difference between a rejection and a closed deal, so your business is on the line. You’re being judged whether you like it or not. Put in the effort!
Until next time—go sell some stuff!