It’s a fact that it takes 3-4 encounters to overcome a bad first impression, meaning you have to work doubly hard if you don’t get it right the first time.
This is especially crucial in business and attracting business partners.
If you're looking to go into business with someone you don’t necessarily have the opportunity to make another impression, so you can’t afford to be sloppy when you have your first encounter.
Below are some tricks of the trade to make your first impressions count, whether it’s via email, phone or in person for B2B Sales.
It can be very difficult to craft the right impression via email. Those reading your email will not have the vocal or visual clues afforded with face to face meetings, so it’s important to set the tone correctly.
Before you start your email, it’s worth checking your online presence.
It's a sometimes uncomfortable fact that we are quite easily discoverable by potential business partners, so how we present ourselves on social media forms part of our first impression.
Once you are confident that your social media activity presents you in the best light, start your email with an engaging but clear subject line.
Remember, yours will be competing with lots of other emails.
However, it’s also necessary to maintain a formal professional tone. In writing emails it’s best to avoid being overly familiar or jokey, as there are not the visual or vocal clues to set the context.
A short introduction is appropriate, giving a fact about yourself that is relevant to the subject you intend to discuss, though it's vital that you are brief.
Don’t dance around getting to the point. Make your reason for emailing clear and do it quickly.
Within your email you must show that you have done your research on them - it will show enthusiasm and enthusiasm is contagious.
Ask questions - it will open a way for a dialogue.
Once you’ve gotten through the main points of your email, ensure there is a call to action prompting a response. From there you can organize with them to discuss your plans further.
Subconsciously, people will often take in more about a person from their body language than they will what is being said.
This means that what you say on the phone and how you say it is utterly crucial to creating a good impression.
Therefore, ensure you are speaking clearly. It may be a good idea to rehearse the things you want to say, or even practice a vocal warm-up to ensure that you are heard clearly.
It may be a good idea to visualize what person on the other end of the phone looks like in order to put yourself at ease.
As with email, it’s best not to be too familiar without the visual cues you need.
Be ready to answer questions, which means knowing your pitch inside and out.
Have questions of your own and listen effectively, giving encouraging responses and using their name when it feels natural.
You don’t have a way of knowing what other things they’ve got planned and it wouldn’t be a good first impression if you make them late for something, so keep the conversation as short as possible.
Face to Face
In part, it can actually be easier to make a good first impression face to face than any other means.
But by contrast, you will find that the stakes are higher and you’ll have more to prepare.
Hopefully your potential partner will be easy to get along with from the outset, but equally, you have to make sure that they feel the same way about you.
You should make sure that you look the part - look professional and smart.
Get an idea of what is appropriate for the function or interview you are attending. It might be a good idea to turn your phone off beforehand.
When you first meet them, smile naturally and have a firm handshake. If you’ve arranged to meet them, make sure that you are on time.
Again, you should ask as many questions of them as you can.
It will put them at ease with you and shows that you are paying attention to what they are saying. Find a common ground and you’ll be able to conduct a relaxed and interesting conversation.
Once you’ve built a rapport you can afford, unlike on phone and by email, to crack an appropriate joke or two.
People like to laugh and it shows that you will work well together.
Now that you’ve gotten through the first impression you can get to the crux of the matter and make plans.
It’s important to say goodbye and make plans to meet again to discuss your business further.
Christopher Phan is a content writer and proofreader at Gum Essays with years of experience. Chris has a degree in Marketing and enjoys writing about business strategies, entrepreneurship and startup companies.