Skip to Content
Influencers Invited Sales Blog

The first 5 seconds of your sales call can make you or break you

How to make a great first impression

The first 5 Seconds of Your Sales Call Can Make You or Break You
In sales everything counts. When you first meet your prospect he or she will immediately form an impression of you. Fair or not, this first impression will influence the progress of your sales call positively or negatively. It’s to your benefit to ensure that your first impression is a good one. This will enable you to begin effectively, and keep the call going smoothly. A bad one will have you fighting uphill all the way.
It takes about 5 seconds to form a first impression. Those first few moments are critical to your success. Here are 5 actions you can perform to help you maximize your chances of making a great first impression.
1. Smile. This may seem like a no brainer. We all know that smiling is required here. But smiling can be overdone and you don’t want to seem smarmy and overly ingratiating. An effective technique is to start smiling as you enter your prospect’s space. Then release the smile as you approach with only the vestiges of the smile remaining. This invites the prospect to smile back — the desired outcome. This works if your smile is genuine. A genuine smile is one where the eyes “crinkle”. Without eye involvement the smile is phony, and it’s easy for most people to spot a fake smile. And without your eye involvement, there is very little of you smile to impress your prospect. So, make your smile a real one.

2. Dress Appropriately. This is a crucial requirement, but a stumbling block for some. Your industry’s culture and norms will guide you here. Still there are some commonsense guidelines no matter the industry. A good rule of thumb to remember: your sales message is king. Anything that distracts or takes away from it can hurt you. Your best options are conservative accessories and attire. A conservative style will offend few people.

3. Be Confident. No matter what problems your personal life is throwing at you, now is not the time to let them affect you. Recall a susessful sales call or positive experience you’ve had. Get that state of mind firmly entrenched in your psyche, and confidently approach your prospect. You have an important reason for being there. Your product or service can make them money, save them money, or solve a thorny problem. Act the part. Your prospect will notice.

4. Be on time. Fashionably early is best. Your prospect’s time commitments deserve respect. Be there at least 10 minutes before your appointed time. If you’re going to be late, call ahead. Your courtesy will be noted. If you’re late without making a call, imagine what an impression that makes. Have you ever waited for a serviceperson or salesperson past your appointment time? Probably made you feel a little resentful, didn’t it? That’s not feeling you want your prospects to experience.

5. Shake hands if appropriate. This one calls for a little finesse. Some people don’t like to shake hands; others use the handshake as a sort of test; and some just naturally shake hands as a part of the meeting process. So, which is which and how can you tell? This is not a perfect science, but there are a clues to help you find out. Be alert to the prospect’s body language and physical positioning. If they remain seated or stand more than a few feet away and seem a little shy or reluctant, that’s a good indication that they’re a non-shaker. If they approach you with their hand extended, then the riddle is solved. If they look down at your hand with a small smile on their face as they shake your hand, they’re testing you. They judge you at least in part by the handshake you offer. Don’t blow it. A good handshake lasts about 3 seconds with 2-3 ‘hand pumps’.
In sales everything does count. Making an excellent first impression enables you to gracefully enter the next step in your sales process. So, arrive a bit early, smile as your approach, confidently enter your prospect’s space, look the part, and give a solid, firm handshake (or not).

About the author