Can you close a sale in just seven seconds?
You can do it even faster
if you make a great first impression. Seven seconds is the average
length of time you have to make a first impression. If your first
impression is not good you won' t get another chance with that potential
client. But if you make a great first impression you can bet that
the client is more likely to take you and your company seriously.
Whether your initial meeting is face-to-face, over the phone or
via the Internet, you do not have time to waste. It pays for you
to understand how people make their first judgment and what you can
do to be in control of the results.
1. Learn What People Use To Form Their First Opinion.
When you meet someone face-to-face, 93% of how you are judged is based on non-verbal
data - your appearance and your body language. Only 7% is influenced by the
words that you speak. Whoever said that you can't judge a book by its cover
failed to note that people do. When your initial encounter is over the phone,
70% of how you are perceived is based on your tone of voice and 30% on your
words. Clearly, it's not what you say - it's the way that you say it.
2. Choose Your First Twelve Words Carefully.
Although research shows that your words make up a mere 7% of what people think
of you in a one-on-one encounter, don't leave them to chance. Express some
form of thank you when you meet the client. Perhaps, it is "Thank you
for taking your time to see me today" or "Thank you for joining
me for lunch." Clients appreciate you when you appreciate them.
3. Use The Other Person's Name Immediately.
There is no sweeter sound than that of our own name. When you use the client
's name in conversation within your first twelve words and the first seven
seconds, you are sending a message that you value that person and are focused
on him. Nothing gets other people's attention as effectively as calling them
4. Pay Attention To Your Hair.
Your clients will. In fact, they will notice your hair and face first. Putting
off that much-needed haircut or color job may cost you the deal. Very few
people want to do business with someone who is unkempt or whose hairstyle
does not look professional. Don't let a bad hair day cost you the connection.
5. Keep Your Shoes In Mint Condition.
People will look from your face to your feet. If your shoes aren't well maintained,
the client will question whether you pay attention to other details. Shoes
should be polished as well as appropriate for the business environment. They
may be the last thing you put on before you walk out the door, but they are
often the first thing your client notices.
6. Walk Fast.
Studies show that people who walk 10-20% faster than others are viewed as important
and energetic - just the kind of person your clients want to do business
with. Pick up the pace and walk with purpose if you want to impress. You
never know who may be watching.
7. Fine Tune Your Handshake.
The first move you make when meeting your prospective client is to put out
your hand. There isn't a businessperson anywhere who can't tell you that
the good business handshake should be a firm one. Yet time and again people
offer a limp hand to the client. You'll be assured of giving an impressive
grip and getting off to a good start if you position your hand to make complete
contact with the other person's hand. Once you've connected, close your thumb
over the back of the other person's hand and give a slight squeeze. You'll
have the beginning of a good business relationship.
8. Make Introductions With Style.
It does matter whose name you say first and what words you use when making
introductions in business. Because business etiquette is based on rank and
hierarchy, you want to honor the senior or highest ranking person by saying
his name first. When the client is present, he is always the most important
person. Say the client's name first and introduce other people to the client.
The correct words to use are "I'd like to introduce..." or "I'd
like to introduce to you..." followed by the name of the other person.
9. Never Leave The Office Without Your Business Cards.
Your business cards and how you handle them contribute to your total image.
Have a good supply of them with you at all times since you never know when
and where you will encounter a potential client. How unimpressive is it to
ask for a person's card and have them say, " Oh, I'm sorry. I think
I just gave my last one away." You get the feeling that this person
has already met everyone he wants to know. Keep your cards in a card case
or holder where they are protected from wear and tear. That way you will
be able to find them without a lot of fumbling around, and they will always
be in pristine condition.
10. Match Your Body Language To Your Verbal Message.
A smile or pleasant expression tells your clients that you are glad to be with
them. Eye contact says you are paying attention and are interested in what
is being said. Leaning in toward the client makes you appear engaged and
involved in the conversation. Use as many signals as you can to look interested
In the business environment, you plan your every move with potential
clients. You arrange for the appointment, you prepare for the meeting,
you rehearse for the presentation, but in spite of your best efforts,
potential clients pop up in the most unexpected places and at the
most bizarre times. For that reason, leave nothing to chance. Every
time you walk out of your office, be ready to make a powerful first
© 2004, Lydia Ramsey. All rights in all media reserved.