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How to Make a Great First Impression in Sales

We've all heard that you don't get a second chance to make a first impression, but do you know what you really must do to create that great first impression that will set you up to make the sale? Sales Expert Phil Smithers gives you some simple, proven and easy to apply tips and tricks you can use today in your next prospect meeting.

"You never get a second chance to make a first impression" - we've all heard it, and guess what, its still true.

All of us humans form our initial impression of someone in about the first 10 seconds after we meet them, often before a conversation opens up. So you haven't got time to mess about with this - you need to know what makes the difference.

Body language and appearance both have a massive impact. Prospects want to do business with confident, credible and trustworthy salespeople.

For example, whenever I've worked as a sales director I would be interviewing candidates on a fairly regular basis. Sometimes I would go and meet a potential candidate from reception myself rather than asking my PA to do so. I'll admit I formed my first impression, positive or negative, within a few seconds based on a few key points: what they're wearing, how they presented themselves, did they look me in the eye and what was their handshake like.

If the initial impression was negative in the majority of cases they failed to get to the next stage. Brutal but honest. You're being judged long before you sit down and start talking so in sales you've got to present yourself in the best possible light.

The next stage to a powerful introduction is what you say and how you speak.

Think about your pitch, pace, volume, energy, speed and intonation. When I was nervous I always had a tendency to speak too fast and at the same pitch. I had to consciously slow down, which takes practice.

The way we use words represents 38% of our total communication when we're face to face; rising to 70% when communicating by phone.

We need appropriate volume to give our voice authority and clarity. In my experience we all need to turn up the volume, especially on the phone. This portrays control, confidence, and knowledge. It makes you look positive and assertive.

Secondly tone which is the mood of your voice.

If you're feeling negative for any reason this will be evident in your tone of voice. Inflection or modulation of the voice is the rise and fall which help make us more interesting to listen to. Finally as I said earlier, we all need to make a conscious effort to slow down when we communicate so that we convey confidence and control. The normal rate of speech is about 240 words per minute. But when you're on the phone you don't have the visual element of communication, so you need to slow down to around 150 words per minute. Just time yourself and see the rate at which you speak. You'll be surprised.

Now we've some tips on how to talk, let's take a few minutes to think about what we're going to say.

It is vital for us to make a good initial impression to build trust and credibility. And in my experience that often means a clear and positive response to the initial question "So, what do you do?" I'm sure we can all remember bumbling along for a few minutes responding to this type of questions in the past.

You need to practice. There are several terms used to describe this - your 60 second commercial / elevator pitch / attention seeking headline to name a few. The fundamentals though are the same. You need to be able to communicate with absolute clarity exactly what you do, how long you've been doing it and how you've helped other organisations overcome particular challenges and what they have achieved as a result.

One I've used in the past is:

"I work for ABC Ltd who've been established for over 25 years and we've helped many organisations similar to yourselves develop tailor made voice and data integration solutions that have resulted in savings of over 140% to their telecommunications costs, as well as increased reliability and speed"

Pretty clear and juicy eh?

The aim of this is to provoke a question from the prospect. For example they might ask "And how exactly do you do that?" Then you can enter into a sales dialogue that could flow as follows:

"At this stage I'm not sure to what extent we could do the same for your particular company, so to help me find out more I'd like to ask you a series of questions. Is that OK?"

One of the best ways to make a good impression is by asking great questions. On the whole people love to talk about themselves and what they do. If you can keep the flow of questions rolling, then that will go along way to helping you build trust and credibility.

Remember sales isn't about tellingFeature Articles, it's about asking questions in a conversational manner. We can all recall meeting somebody in a social gathering and all they did was talk about themselves and what they do without paying any interest to you. That doesn't create a great first impression.

Article Tags: Great First Impression, Great First, First Impression, Initial Impression, Slow Down

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Phil Smithers is one of the UK's leading sales coaches sharing the most effective and powerful sales tips, training and mentoring you need to boost your results and start achieving your goals, right now! If you want to learn more about making a great first impression, and what to do after that to close the sale, go to

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