Small Business Advice
How to make a good first impression
Q: As the saying goes, “You only have one opportunity to make a good first impression.” Can you offer some suggestions to help ensure a favorable customer reaction to a first encounter?
A: Many articles have been written on this subject, but I will try to boil it down to just seven common sense, easy to remember key points:
- Prepare in advance. Do your homework prior to the meeting. Gather as much information about the business or individual as possible. If a business, check out their website to learn about their history, staff, products, services and any recent news. If an individual, check out Linkedin, Facebook, and ask his or her secretary/assistant about their hobbies, interests, family, awards, etc. You want to appear both interested and informed.
- Be on time. Plan to arrive a few minutes early for the meeting thereby allowing for unexpected delays. A late arrival indicates a lack of organization which is not the impression you want to convey.
- Dress for the occasion. If you are calling on a professional, wear a suit, tie and shined shoes. If your client is a contractor or owner of an auto body shop, rolled up shirt sleeves may be more appropriate.
- Smile. A winning smile in combination with a firm hand shake conveys confidence. Both should be warm and friendly, but keep it short so as not to make them feel uneasy.
- Be mindful of your body language. You want your client to feel at ease. Don’t be in hurry to get to the business at hand. Get them talking about themselves or their business, listen attentively, respond appropriately and maintain eye contact.
- Be courteous and attentive. Turn off your cell phone. The last thing you need is to have the conversation interrupted by a phone call. Your client deserves one hundred percent of your attention.
- Most important, be yourself. If you are well prepared and know your product or service, you need only to make sure your client is comfortable in your presence to ensure a good first impression. Just try to be yourself and let the conversation evolve naturally. Once the client feels at ease, they will be more receptive to what you have to offer.
Gray Poehler is a volunteer with the Naples Chapter of SCORE.
A SCORE counselor since 2005, Gray Poehler owned and operated an independent insurance agency with 20 employees and two locations. He has earned the Certified Insurance Counselor designation and is familiar with both personal and commercial property and casualty insurance. Areas of expertise include: Business Finance and Accounting; Business Strategy and Planning; Business Operations; Human Resources and Internal Communications; Sales, Marketing and Public Relations.
To learn more about management issues of small businesses, contact the SCORE office nearest you.