Fast first impressions are getting even faster
You've probably heard that "You never get a second chance
to make a good first impression." And it's true!
You also probably heard that "First impressions are
Have you ever thought about how long it takes to make a first
impression? I remember sitting in sales training class and
hearing the sales trainer talk about how it takes two minutes
to create a first impression.
That might have been true then, but nothing could be further
from the truth today.
I also remember reading an article written by the CEO who
owned an executive search firm. His research, about eight
years ago, indicated that it took as little as five seconds
for an interviewer to form his first impression of the interviewee.
Now get this. According to a study conducted at Carleton
University in Ottawa, people are forming fast first impressions
in as little as 1/20th of a second.
Yikes - I've heard of rapid transit but up until now I've
never heard of rapid and fast first impressions.
There’s speed dating, speed dialing, and of course
speed channel surfing with your remote control in your family
The point is that we're doing everything faster today –
everything and this includes forming first impressions.
If you're a professional sales representative and focused
on growing your business it probably requires selling to new
Many of the sales prospects you call on are overworked
and overwhelmed. You won't get many second chances in
the first impressions department with these people. So it
has to be good the first time.
Here's a short list of things you can do to improve your
1. Be prepared! Sure you have to look good,
but once you open your mouth you have to sound good too. Develop
and rehearse an elevator speech which answers the question
"What do you do?"
2. Dress for success. I wish I could remember
who said this, I can't, but I’ll tell you anyway. “When
it comes to clothes, buy half as much and spend twice as much.”
Clothes may not make the man, but they certainly add to a
good first impression. Shoes should be polished including
the heels which can get beaten up with all the driving you
3. Walk like a winner. There's a reason
why people often say the first thing people notice about other
people are their shoes. And the simple reason why people are
looking at shoes is because their heads are canted downward.
You'll appear more confident when you have your chin in the
up and locked position with a smile on your face.
4. Smile talking. This is easy to say and
extremely hard to do. Practice smiling while you're talking.
It changes everything. Some people do this naturally and I'm
not one of them. I'm serious by nature and I have to concentrate
on smiling. Of course it's easy to tell whether or not you're
smiling when you're talking to someone. If the other person
is smiling at you, you're probably smiling at them.
5. Be approachable. If you want to appear
friendly and approachable on all sales calls, consider wearing
a name tag. Now don't be too quick to pooh-pooh this idea.
Scott Ginsberg has been testing theories on first impressions
for seven years. Nametags don't hurt and they probably help
in the first impressions department.
If you never get a second chance to make a good first impression
what are the chances of getting a second chance with an extremely
fast first impression?
It seems like everything we're doing these days is in the
fast lane. My advice is to slow down and pay attention to
the first impressions you're leaving behind.
Think about the lifetime value of a sales prospect who didn't
become your customer because of your underwhelming first
Forget about accidental first impressions when you're selling.
With a little planning and a little practice you first impressions
will become memorable.