We all want to make a good first impression when calling on a sales prospect for a large book order. An order for thousands of books could be at stake. So the pressure is on you, and that alone could cause you to make a bad first impression. But there are other reasons, and some are beyond your control. The most expeditious thing to do is to control the impression you make on buyers. But if you don’t, you may be able to correct it. Here are Ten Ways to Make the Right Impression.
- Understand that your words and behavior are always subject to interpretation. The buyers’ initial assessments of you are the result of their assumptions, stereotypes and cues. Dress, talk and act the image you want to convey.
- Walk in the office confidently, smiling and dressed professionally. Shake hands firmly while making eye contact.
- Open the conversation with something important to the buyer (family photo, diploma on the “Ego Wall,” etc)
- Buyers want to work with people they trust. Develop trust initially by displaying your warmth (friendliness, respect and listening) and competence (knowledge of the person, company and industry as well as of your content and competition).
- Buyers want to work with people who are not out for themselves. Early in the discussion demonstrate that you want to help them solve their problems, not just sell them your books.
- Ask, don’t tell. The sales presentation is not a monologue about you and your book. Get the buyers involved in the sales process by asking questions about them and their needs and problems. What keeps them awake at night?
- Actively listen to the person speaking. Use facial expressions, posture and gestures to show that you are listening. If you do not understand a particular point, ask for clarification.
- If you start out on the wrong foot, rectify the situation as quickly as possible. For example, if you miss a deadline on an assignment, beat the next five deadlines to register the fact that you are serious.
- Get buyers to want to work with you because you have a role in their success. Prove that your content and proposal can help the them reach their objectives better than any other promotional tool they may be considering.
- Demonstrate your sincerity and ability. If buyers do not think you are capable of doing all you say you can, ask for a trail order and the chance to prove yourself.
Do not simply sit back and moan about not making the sale because the buyer had the wrong impression of you. Plan for each encounter so that each buyer sees you in the best possible light, his or her internal biases notwithstanding. Do these things and you may be able to correct the situation if you do not initially come across as you intend. It is never too late to make the right impression.