Only One Chance To Make A First Impression In Sales

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One of the more fascinating aspects of sales is finding out why a sales call didn’t result in a sale. What reasoning did that prospect use to ultimately say no? What turned him against you and your services? Was it that the product/service that was being offered had no application to him or his business? Could it have been something that you said or did, which prohibited you from opening a closed mind, or worse yet, closed an open mind?

Clients make critical decisions and assessments within the very first seconds of a sales call. A salesperson’s positive initial impact can open otherwise closed minds. Clients will pay closer attention to what is presented and will allow you to steer the call in the direction you want.

Eye Contact is Critical
The most critical element of positive impact is eye to eye contact. If you look at the prospect squarely in the eye with a friendly look on your face, you, more often than not, will disarm the most guarded person. An open, honest face will win over the most skeptical of buyers. A very rewarding habit to acquire is to take ten seconds before you grab the doorknob to enter a sales call to put your game head on. Always remember, you are there to convince him/her that your product and services will benefit him/her greatly. You are not there to win a battle of who is the better person. Be positive and enthusiastic.

Another Aspect of Positive Impact is Attitude
Always represent yourself as a professional with something valuable to present to the client. Be honest and candid about yourself. With today’s online Social Media, a client can find out an awful lot about your personal and professional background and schooling in a few minutes. A real clue as to whether you are successfully coming across as professional is whether the client starts asking for your credentials. Distrust has started to creep into the sales call, at that point.

Negative attitudes are often exhibited as blatant arrogance on the part of a salesperson. Talking down to a client is a sure-fire way to not land the sale. Nobody is impressed with degrees from prestigious universities unless those degrees are essential to the task at hand. They seldom are in a sales situation. Sales people often earn large incomes, but to boast your earnings over his is rude and demeaning. You may have more college degrees than your prospects and you may earn more money than they do, but nobody is positively impressed by a salesperson using that fact to promote himself or his company.

The First Impression You Make is Visual
Sales people make a tremendous visual impact on clients. The care in which they treat their personal appearance leaves an indelible impression on clients. Showing up in a vested suit to sell hand tools to an auto garage is just as inappropriate as showing up in jeans to sell a financial service to a professional business. Not only should proper type of dress be used, but the cleanliness of that dress as well as the personal care of the salesperson’s appearance must also be impeccable.

Consistency of Message is Vital to Closing a Sale
Everything that is presented must be aligned from lead to the final close. Anything which contradicts or seems to vary from the main points of your presentation or salient features of your product, will create distrust and a firm no-sale. A smart way to avoid this pitfall is to recap what you have already presented during several stages of the presentation. At the close, there will be little dispute about what you said or any negative surprises.

Put your best foot forward, at all times. Use all five senses to check yourself as you move through your sales call, being especially mindful of how a prospect perceives you. Be honest, forthright, and straightforward.


  1. Based on my experience, eye contact is crucial to landing accounts. Eye contact is an art which can only be mastered by practice and experience. I have spent hours and days perfecting my eye to eye contact face, mainly because i found that my initially eye contact was paired with a gaze of intimidation rather than a friendly, or confident gaze. I would suggest practice in the mirror to insure your eye contact conveys the right message. Confident but not arrogant.

  2. There are three more factors I believe in: Firstly, no does not mean no. It means not now – not this color – not that size – after my mother-in-law has left town and I have time to think about this. Saying No is better than saying Yes and having expensive buyer’s remorse. No is a good thing; it brings the salesperson closer to a firm Yes. Secondly, thirdly and fourthly, you have to ask more than once for the big sales. Customers need time to digest your information, ask their colleagues to verify the ideas you planted, find a tape measure to see if the idea fits, and investigate what their competitors are doing. My final tip comes from my father, who told me NEVER to give my money to a sales person I didn’t like. He believed in rewarding good behavior, and he looked forward to visits from all his sales reps. who he knew for years. The sale is never finished, so leave the door open for many pleasant return visits — even if the sales person is working for a different company. Good relationships out-last employment.

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