If you want to win more sales and create longer-lasting professional relationships, it’s important to make a better first impression with your clients. A better first impression is going to set the right tone for your working relationship, make your brand (and your team members) more memorable, and naturally encourage more commitment and loyalty.
So what steps can you take to make a consistently better first impression with your new clients?
Choose the Right Space
Your first job is to find the right space. If you ask to meet a prospect in the back of your old car because you can’t afford an office, and the back seat of your car is torn up and filled with fast food wrappers, we don’t need to tell you how poor of an impression that’s going to make. Conversely, if a prospect walks into your office and is instantly astounded by the size, scope, beauty, and cleanliness of your office, it’s going to be much harder for them to decline your services.
Obviously, choosing a workspace is about more than just making a good first impression with new clients. Lavish, clean spaces are very impressive, but they’re also very expensive. You can mitigate this in several ways, such as by including more unique personality elements throughout your workspace and making sure the entrance is as stunning as possible.
One increasingly popular solution for entrepreneurs is choosing a coworking space. Coworking spaces are highly affordable, yet they can offer all the visual grandeur and enjoyable amenities that you would expect from a higher-end workplace. On top of that, coworking spaces are skyrocketing in popularity, so using one for your business shows that you’re up on the latest trends in business innovation.
Lucas Seyhun, founder of The Farm SoHo, puts it succinctly: “Meeting clients in the right kind of coworking space sends a message about efficiency and being on the cutting edge, all at a fraction of the cost of full-time office space.”
Do Your Research
Before welcoming any prospect or client into your business, it’s important to do your research. You need to understand who these people are and the type of business they work for. This way, you’ll be able to anticipate their needs, better understand the context of their interactions, and create an experience that’s memorable for them. You’re doing something wrong if your first questions are “who are you?” and “what does your business do?”
Create a Welcoming Ambiance
Work together with your team members to create the most welcoming ambiance you can. That usually means ensuring a clean environment, putting on some inoffensive background music, and making sure someone is available to greet the prospects as they walk in (and direct them where they need to go).
Expect smiles and politeness from your entire crew, including people who have only fleeting interactions with the incoming client.
Find Common Ground
The art of finding common ground is important for all kinds of relationships. It’s a great way to form initial bonds and start more complex conversations. Your common ground doesn’t have to be professional; you can also find common ground in the form of appreciation of sports, movies, local restaurants, or really anything else you imagine. The point is to find something that you share in common with the client so they feel more comfortable and more connected to you.
Be Punctual and Professional
This should be obvious, but you need to be punctual and professional to make a better first impression.
- Be on time. If your client has to wait for you to start the meeting, they might see it as a red flag. Plan on being at least 15 minutes early, just in case.
- Dress well. Practice good dress and good grooming. Even if your workplace dress code is relatively informal, step it up for your most important clients.
- Watch your posture. Pay close attention to your posture and try to retain good form throughout your interactions.
- Avoid controversial moves. Profanities, risky jokes, and controversial conversation topics might be loosely acceptable in your workplace’s daily discourse, but leave these to the side if you want to make a good impression.
Next, be your authentic self. You do want to put your best foot forward and mostly stay on professional topics, but people are going to think more highly of you if they can tell you’re just being yourself. Be willing to inject some humor and show off what makes you “you.” Even if you don’t have a naturally charismatic or energetic personality, your guests will appreciate your candor and genuineness.
Try to Relax
Emotions are contagious. It’s natural to be a little nervous when meeting a new prospect or client for the first time, but if they can tell you’re nervous, it might make them uncomfortable. Even though it’s difficult to make yourself relax by force, you do need to have a relaxed, calm demeanor if you want to make the best impression.
With these strategies, you should be in a much better position to make a better first impression with all your new clients (and prospects, before they become clients). With more practice and more experience in your workspace, you’ll feel even more confident navigating these all-too-important interactions.