When you close a deal, or start a long-term relationship, one of your biggest goals should be to receive a referral from that person in the future. A referral is the ultimate compliment and indicator of your success as a salesperson. Therefore, the habit of creating a good first impression is the foundation for all the other habits of successful salespeople we’ve talked about. Each of the previous habits I’ve mentioned is a part of building lasting business, and it all starts with an intentional and well-executed first impression.
Learning to make a good impression might seem like a clichéd piece of advice, but hear me out.
Good business isn’t just cultivated through your level of charm when you first meet a potential client or partner. It’s developed by the impression you give during and after your initial meeting. It’s more than a strong handshake or a nice laugh. If you want to have a lasting effect on people, you’ll need to demonstrate your commitment to developing a relationship with them.
I like to think of cultivating a good first impression in two parts: the initial meeting and the follow-up.
Tips for The Initial Meeting
- Tailor the conversation and business talk to the person. Even if you don’t know much about them, be more focused on talking WITH them, not AT them. Let them inform the way you engage and converse.
- Appearances are always important. You want your style and your mannerisms to be specific to you, to allow people to get a better understanding of your character. But do try to be aware of the apparel and behavior that each situation calls for. If you understand exactly what kind of expectations there are for an event or meeting, you have a better shot at making a lasting impression.
- It’s all in the details. So if you want more help with appearance (e.g. style, introductions, and manners), check out this article from Forbes about the psychology of first meetings.
The Often-Overlooked Follow-Up
The second piece of the first impression is your follow-up. The goal of your follow-up should be to make that awesome impression you gave during your initial meeting stick in the person’s memory.
Whether you’re looking to earn new business or a referral partner, remember these top strategies that the best sales agents employ:
- Send an email, quick text, or follow request on social media. After any first meeting, you can quickly show long-term interest with online follow-up. Engaging with merchants and other professionals in any social media space shows not only that you’re in the know, but that you’re truly interested in starting a conversation.
- Do your research. If you’re planning on reaching out again, start by finding out more about their company, and let them know you have their specific interests in mind. Even better, connect them to helpful resources or better contact information for you. This shows a real understanding of their business and your interest in it.
- Clear communication is key. Genuine trust in sales is built on continuity, so prove to merchants and associates that their time is valuable to you. After meeting, be prompt in answering communications, be okay with questions and doubts, and avoid giving vague answers or promises.
Do some of these tips sound familiar? That’s probably because so many of them relate to all the habits we’ve shared in this series. After all, an impression is a culmination of your good habits, and everything you do to be a superior sales agent.
Which habit of yours do you wish you would have formed earlier in your career?