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Start-Ups

Four Ways to Ensure Your First Sales Impression Sticks

By Townes Haas   |    November 19, 2015   |    1:11 PM

Growing your business means getting new clients or selling new services. In order to do that, your sales team must be on point and your first impression to prospective clients must be noticeable and memorable. Here's how to do it.

Dress for the Part

Unless you want to rock your sweatpants and Crocs as a code monkey in a startup’s basement, you are going to have to dress well to land sales. You may think that because you work in laid-back Boulder or Palo Alto that it’s unnecessary to give a false impression of your day-to-day routine. You’re wrong. Dressing up is not only about showing your potential clients the respect they deserve. It’s also about your desire to be taken seriously. Pro tip: It’s always better to dress up than dress down. You might think that khaki’s and your polo shirt that doesn’t have spots will do the trick. When it’s show time, wear the jacket and tie or your fancy work dress. Your customers are more likely to take you seriously.

Smile

Admittedly, smiling is tough for some people. There are some wickedly smart people in the business who, because they suffer from social anxiety, have a really hard time talking to people.

This job is not for them. It’s for you. And you’re here to sell. To that end, having a big smile on your face when you first meet with a new customer goes a long way. Experienced salespeople even admit that they smile when they’re on the phone, and that customers can tell. Here’s what smiling does: it makes people comfortable. It gives them the impression that you’re on their side.

Make the Small Talk

There’s too much talk about the “elevator pitch,” especially in the business-to-business sales segment of our crazy economy. For the uninitiated (and trained salespeople should know this by now), an elevator pitch is a version of your sales pitch or an explanation of your product’s value that is so concise it could be made during a brief elevator ride. But this abrupt approach to communicating your ideas makes some people start the pitch as soon as they shake hands. Hang out for a bit. Tell them how great your flight was, and how impressive their headquarters are, and how friendly everyone has been so far. Once you’ve established yourself as a non-threatening, highly professional and keen thinker with sharp observations and witty repartee, then it’s time to make the pitch.

Look at the Customer’s “Pain Points”

Here’s a different way of thinking. You’re not selling a product. You’re selling the answer to a problem. What this means is that you need to be listening at the beginning of a meeting, when your potential customers are tell you where their pain comes from. This also means not just waiting for your turn to speak, which is a classic problem with the sales process. Once you understand their problems, you can address how you will provide them solutions.