8 Rules to Make a Great First Impression

Last Updated Sep 17, 2009 8:58 AM EDT

Want to be wildly successful in sales? Few sales skills are more important than the ability to make a powerful first impression. Everyone you meet, whether they're a prospect or not, is part of the network that you're building to make yourself successful. And if they ARE a prospect, a powerful first impression starts the sales cycle on the right foot -- and helps drive it to a positive conclusion.

With that in mind, here are the eight simple rules:

  • RULE #1: First impressions are CRUCIAL. The opening minute of any new interaction creates an impression that is difficult to change.
  • RULE #2: First impressions are a SKILL. Just like any other sales skill, you can become a master of the first impression by focusing in on it.
  • RULE #3: It's all about the CUSTOMER. If you find yourself talking too much about your weekend, family or job, then you're not listening enough.
  • RULE #4: Prospect names are IMPORTANT. When meeting someone for the first time, get their name right. Be fanatical when pronouncing unusual names.
  • RULE #5: Practice a friendly GREETING. If you're in sales, your smile, handshake and eye contact must all be top quality. Never smarmy.
  • RULE #6: Put likability in CONTEXT. Your first impression will be a result of likeability, competence and preparedness. Pay attention to all three.
  • RULE #7: Focus on what's POSITIVE. Whatever the temptation, avoid criticizing anyone, even a competitor, in front of customers. It's a turn-off.
  • RULE #8: Attitude is EVERYTHING. Memorable people are genuinely interested, enthusiastic, and eager to help. You can't fake it, so really feel it.
READERS: Any other rules come to mind?

BTW: the above is based upon a conversation with Michael St. Lawrence, author of the bestseller "If You're Not Out Selling, You're Being Outsold"