First Impressions Are Vital In Sales

Making first impressions count
I was recently doing some sales training for a client in Hertfordshire.  The client had hired a local hotel as the venue for the training, and had booked me in to stay at the same hotel.  As I’m normally delivering training during the day, most of my travelling is done in the evenings, so I’m often arriving at hotels quote late at night.  On this particular occasion, it was midnight just as I was arriving at the hotel.

The hotel building and grounds were quite impressive, however, as I got my luggage out of the car and tried to check in, this is where things started to go wrong.

I enter the hotel lobby with my suitcase, my case of training equipment and 2 suit carriers.  It’s also just gone midnight and I’d been driving for nearly 5 hours at that point. My focus was solely on checking in as quickly as possible and the least I’d have appreciated was an acknowledgement of this from the receptionist, perhaps with something like “we’ll get you checked in as quickly as possible sir, would you like any help with your bags?”

However, unfortunately this particular hotel failed to do anything like that.  Quite bizarrely, the check in desk went around the corner and doubled as the bar where 2 staff members were serving a couple of customers.

So I patiently waited.  The members of staff looked at me a few times but nothing happened.  I decided to keep waiting just to see what they would do.  A full 10 minutes later nothing had happened – until I said “excuse me, is there any chance of checking me in before one of us dies?!”  Then they got someone within a minute!

Just think about the impact of that first impression.  What would that do to the chances of me booking again?  Or recommending them to others?

All the small things
Also, because my first impression of them was so bad, what do you think was in my mind as I eventually got into my room – was I “super positive”, eagerly anticipating my 2 night stay with them?  Or was I annoyed, frustrated and probably going to be critical of even any small things that they got wrong over the next 2 days?  That’s right – the second one!

And guess what – they managed to get a lot of things wrong over the 2 days!  Were they large, insurmountable problems?  No, they were mainly little things that they didn’t do, or didn’t do as had been arranged.

How is your company’s first impression?
So have a think about what the “first impression” of your company is like to potential clients.  What’s your website like?  Does it give a good impression of your company?  Is it easy to navigate?  Can potential clients find what they need easily?  Does it truly represent your company’s values and present you in the light that you’d like to be shown in?  Does it demonstrate your credibility, encourage interaction and get people to contact you?

What about your company’s reception area if you have one?  Does that present your company in your best light to visitors?  Again, if visitors are waiting in your reception area, they’ll be looking around, making unconscious judgements on what your company is like to do business with.  If your reception area looks cheap, what do you think their impression of your company is like?  Does it have quality printed literature about your company that they can look through?  A company newsletter so they can find out more about you?  Or just copies of old magazines with coffee stains on? (as one did that I was visiting recently!)

If you haven’t already done so, try ringing your own company pretending to be a potential client.  You could be horrified at what you might experience!  But at least it makes you aware of it and gives you a chance to put it right!

Use these strategies and watch your sales soar!  I look forward to hearing how you get on.

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