We’re sure you’re already aware of the importance of first impressions. Making the right impression on your clients and customers is crucial for developing a good relationship. And good relationships lead to customer satisfaction, more sales and ultimately more success. Your behaviour and presentation will always have an effect on someone’s decision to do business with you. But what will this decision be based on? And what can you do to influence the impression you give in that first meeting?
This decision will most likely be made early on; your body language, mannerisms, tone of voice and choice of words will all impact how you come across to others. Science has shown that it only takes seven seconds for someone to make their very first impression of you. Sounds scary, right? It doesn’t need to be. The goal is to build a relationship of trust, and you want to appear professional and competent right from the start. But what’s the difference between a good first impression and a great one?
In order to answer this, think about it this way; when you first meet someone, what questions do you ask yourself? Maybe, does this person respect my opinion? Does this person seem interested in what I’m telling them? Is this person helpful? In order to make your first impression count, you need to make sure you consider all these things, and more. To help you get started, here are our top nine tips to help you make sure you come across well in that first meeting.
The right appearance is the first step to making a great first impression. Making sure you look professional will reassure your client that you take your business, product or service seriously. Choose your clothes carefully. You need to make sure that your appearance matches the product you’re trying to sell. Will it appeal to your customer base? Is it appropriate for the industry you’re working in? Some industries are a lot more relaxed…others are more formal. Make sure you take this into account when choosing your clothes, and make sure that they’re appropriate for your audience.
Your attitude as a person, as well as your attitude towards your business, product or service will be one of the first things people notice when speaking to you. You need to be enthusiastic, and you also need to make sure that enthusiasm comes across when presenting ideas to others. Be confident, make sure your attitude is helpful and ensure that you answer any questions in a knowledgeable manner.
Do this…and you prove to potential clients and customers that you’re dedicated to providing them with an excellent level of service and you’re willing to solve any problems they might have. Last and not least, smile. Don’t let a bad mood affect you. Even if you don’t feel like it, positivity is infectious and smiling will always help to give a great first impression to others.
Facial expressions are an essential part of creating an excellent first impression with new people. Everyone wants their brand to be associated with positivity, and that’s why you need to put smiling high up on your to do list. Now, we’re not saying go into every meeting with a cheesy, inauthentic grin across your face, but a natural smile will make you more approachable and make others feel more comfortable in your presence.
When you’re talking to new customers or clients face to face, you need to consider your body language and the impact it has on their impression of you. Your body language should be assertive, but not aggressive. Avoid crossing your arms or putting your hands on your hips, and be aware of your facial expressions and the position of your arms.
Make sure that you avoid fidgeting when talking as it can be distracting and can be a sign that you’re insecure or uncomfortable, which can make others less inclined to engage with you. The right posture can give the impression of confidence, so keep your shoulders down, lift your head up and make sure your back is straight. Also, leaning in towards the person can show that you’re interested in them and the conversation, which is always going to give a good impression.
Matching their body language can be a good way of showing them you’re interested, as studies have shown most people find it easier to relate to people that they see as “more like them”. This is something a lot of us do instinctively, for example when you’re in a group of people, if one person yawns it causes others to copy it without thinking. Smiles can be contagious too. It’s thought that mirroring can cause a response in the brain and gives non-verbal messages to the other person that helps them to relate to them better. This also makes it easier to create an impression of trust, understanding and a better connection with the person.
Eye contact is essential and shows the person you’re interested in them. Be sure to look the person in the eye as it shows confidence, and looking away or down can give the person subconscious signals that you’re not interested or that you’re hiding something from them. But, what should you do if you’re nervous or eye contact doesn’t come naturally to you? How much eye contact is too much? Getting the balance right can be difficult, but once you’ve mastered it, it can drastically improve the response you get and help build rapport with clients quickly and easily.
You don’t want to make the person feel uncomfortable, but getting the right amount of eye contact can really improve the impression you give to someone. Start by making eye contact for a short amount of times and, as the conversation increases, you can increase it too. Even just a small amount can significantly increase the quality of the conversation. Try not to stare directly at the person for more than three seconds, it can come across aggressive, and taking some breaks in between can improve the response you get.
Focus on them
Always remember, when you’re trying to impress a client or customer, you should try to focus on them as much as possible. Ask lots of questions, listen attentively and most importantly try and fully understand what they’re looking for so you’re able to help them. Being good at listening helps to build trust and shows you’re fully engaged with the other person.
Although it may be tempting to just talk about your product or service…you need to try to keep the conversation as balanced as you can. Don’t interrupt the potential client and make sure it doesn’t come across as though you’re trying to rush through the meeting. Building report with the other person is key if you want to make a positive and lasting impression.
Find solutions to their problems
Once you’ve listened to the client’s needs and what they’re looking for, the next step is trying to find a solution that will help them. If they have any queries or problems, focus on getting as much detail as you can so you can find an effective solution for them. Make sure you always go out of your way to make their experience as positive as possible.
If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t start panicking, and definitely don’t make up any of the answers. Be honest with them and tell them that you need to go and find out the answer to make sure the information you give is accurate. Honesty helps to build trust and they will appreciate receiving information that is correct and helpful.
Being thoroughly prepared can save you a lot of stress and gives off a sense of professionalism and trustworthiness. Make sure you do all your research before meetings. This will give you a huge advantage over your competitors. Find out as much information as you can. Who is the client? What type of company is it? What are the company values and objectives? What are they looking for?
Be familiar with their company, as well as the industry and any current events that might be relevant. Visit the company’s website; check all their recent news and events as well as any other information that could be helpful in creating a good impression. Find out who will be attending the meeting and check their LinkedIn profile to find out a bit more about them and any interests they have. Finding something in common with them is a great way to break the ice and make sure the conversation flows well.
The other thing to bear in mind when preparing for a meeting is your own intentions. What do you want to achieve from the meeting? What are your goals? This can help you to appear more competent and mature and can also give the conversation a better sense of direction. If you’re nervous, this can help you stay in control and feel more confident. Think about what you want to get out of the meeting and think of some conversation starters and questions that can help you to achieve that.
Always arrive early
There’s nothing worse than arriving to a meeting late. Make sure you leave early enough to get there with plenty of time to spare. It shows you’re responsible, serious about your business and respectful towards others. Try to arrive early to allow time to compose yourself, check how you look and make any final preparations. When deciding the time you need to leave, make sure you’re prepared and allow time for travel delays, finding a parking spot or anything else that might occur.
Once you’ve arrived at your meeting, the right handshake is crucial. Make sure you get the right balance. You want your handshake to be firm and confident. Avoid squeezing their hand too tight as it can be aggressive, but also remember that a limp handshake can make you appear nervous and unsure of yourself.
Make sure conversation is natural
You want your conversation to count. Start off with a basic, yet confident introduction and remember to use the client’s name…it adds a more personal touch and shows you’ve done your research. In order to come across in a positive light, make sure you always speak clearly and calmly. Avoid mumbling at all costs, but don’t be so loud that others might find it intimidating.
When talking to new people, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of sticking to a “script”. Whilst it’s good to plan out what you’re going to say and how to answer certain questions, it’s also important to make sure the conversation flows well and seems natural. Everyone has their go to conversation starters. Where are you from? How’s your day been? The list goes on. What’s the problem with these types of conversations?
Although they’re fine and will get you talking to your client, they can be dull, repetitive and probably not very memorable. Try to think of some different topics of conversation to break the ice. As well as this, make sure you greet your client warmly, ask lots of relevant questions and make sure you show them that they have your full attention. Remember your body language when you’re speaking to them too…keep your hands visible, make eye contact and stand with confidence. That’s how you create an impression that’s memorable.