Monday, December 19, 2011

First Impressions Matter

You could lose your next sale before you have even uttered a word!
90% of people have formed an opinion about you in under 60 seconds.
They think they know you:
  • Your age
  • Your experience
  • Your knowledge
  • Your level of intelligence
  • ….. and they are assessing if they trust and respect you
You cannot stop it; we are programmed to check people out.
So successful people stop and think about the impression they want to make. Take people like:
  • Richard Branson
  • David Cameron
  • Barack Obama
  • Boris Johnson
  • Ghandi
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
All different characters, in different cultures, with a different impact - it’s not an accident – their impact is planned. A sales person should stop and think carefully about the impression they want to make. Think of words you would want to say about you. For example:
"He’s professional, approachable, dynamic and I trust him. He will be honest with me."
"She’s bright, experienced, focused and I respect her knowledge and trust her judgement."   

First impressions can be broken down into 4 core areas.
Ø Appearance - How you look.
Ø Voice  -  How you speak
Ø Content – What you say? How you listen?
Ø Connection  -  How you connect with your ‘customer’

Never, ever underestimate the power of your first impression. When you find your innate style, the one that fits you and your values, you will be amazing. You will connect with 80 – 95% of people.
When you meet someone for the first time, the human senses are heightened. The visual sense takes over and looks intently at everything it can see - height, size, clothes, expressions, eye contact, and movement. Everything that someone sees as they look at you delivers a message about you. From your hairstyle down to the tips of your shoes - your pen, your pad, your telephone, they all carry a message. The way you walk, your handshake, your posture, your expressions and the way you use your hands, all tell someone else about you. Are you sending out the right messages for you?
The auditory sense listens for the sound of the voice, the volume, the speed, the tonality and use of the pause.  All the information is being processed in milli seconds and the kinaesthetic part of the brain is coming up with its answers about how it feels, about what it is seeing and hearing.
All that information is taken deep inside the unconscious mind and is evaluated against our values, our experiences.
So it is a difficult process and you are not going to influence and connect with everyone. But there is a huge amount you can do to improve your personal Impact and ensure you are projecting a better First Impression.

Simple Actions you can take now:
1.         Reassess your business wardrobe
  • Invest in clothes that ‘say’ what you want to ‘say’ and create the right First Impression
  • Hire an experienced and qualified Image Coach
  • Clothes are an expression of who you are
2.         Improve your Voice
  • Hire a Voice Coach if you know you need one - 80% of people do not like their voice.
  • Practice your spoken message
  • Strengthen and deepen your voice
  • Use the pause for maximum effect
  • Emphasise key words
  • Your voice is your greatest tool

3.        Improve your Body Language
  • Smile – it costs nothing, but means everything
  • Breathe deeply to calm nerves
  • Eye contact – don’t stare people out but pace their eye contact.
  • Match Body Language energy with your customer

4.  Learn to connect on a Social Level
  • Ask some open questions
  • Get to know the person you are meeting
  • Find a common interest
  • Take Time to connect on a deeper level
  • Find out their values

5.   Listen carefully and remember what they say
  • Make notes after if you have to
  • Listen for their values, trust, honesty, integrity, fun?
  • Listen for their vision of success 

…. and remember it takes just 60 seconds to make or break that first impression – make sure you get it right!