Never Waste a First Impression

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The saying goes a little something like this: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Powerful. It really is. One chance to lay the foundation for the future, and in some cases a future that may not exist should you fail miserably in your first impression.

So why is this so often missed in our approach to new prospects or new customers and how can we take the necessary steps to never waste the incredibly gift that a first impression is.

Read on and I’ll share with you my four pillars of nailing the first impression. A critical function for any Salesperson, Customer Success team members or most professionals for that matter.

Prospecting, cold-calls, cold-emails, inbound leads to inbound sales, account transfers, sales-to-csm handoffs, support escalations, these are all critical moments of truth in a customer journey. I’m certain you can think of many more examples in your life or in your business but these are just simply a few to highlight as opportunities to hit or miss in your first impression.

Check your LinkedIn inbox right now, I’m sure you have some terrible first impression examples staring back at you. Or in your email inbox at work. Templated email after templated email. All misses.

The misses aren’t just a single value in a statistical campaign analysis at the end of the day. These are real people, with a real impression of your business and of the person who sent the message. Many will be sent to spam, others will be ignored, some yet will be publicly shamed on Linkedin (don’t do this last one, praise publicly, constructively criticize privately.)

Nearly all of these examples will share a similar trait. The person who pressed the send button didn’t recognize the critical nature of first impressions. They may have personalized with some awful attempt at a joke, or a quick check of your last blog post, but it’s half hearted and not remotely believable.

In another part of the business, your salesperson has done an incredible job of building trust with a new customer and they make the introduction to the customer success manager, or account manager who will now take over the partnership moving forward. Except, the introduction was simply just an e-mail. The new customer success manager excitedly reaches out for a kick-off call and they know almost nothing about your business or why you bought. You not only are frustrated with your new account manager, but the salesperson and the company you’ve just signed a contract with.

Don’t make these mistakes in your business. They’re too simple to avoid and too costly to correct.

Here are my four pillars for successful first impressions.

  • Past:
    • Complete a thorough review of your organizations interaction with the customer or prospect. Review the history of the organization and the industry in which they do business.
  • Priorities:
    • Now that you know where they have been and how they made it here, identify where they are going and the market drivers that are prompting this movement.
  • Persona:
    • Throw what marketing told you about this stereotypical persona and build your own specific to this individual. Who are they, where did they come from, what keeps them up at night and where are the heading?
  • Plan:
    • Build your playbook for your approach. What are your objectives for the account, what value can you provide them immediately, what do you do if they don’t respond to you? Do you have an account plan?

It’s a simple process, but by taking the time to understand your prospect or your customer and their business, you will see more responses in turn you will get more information that will help you close more customers, or deliver a significantly improved customer experience. It’s so simple. Why not do it right, and stop wasting critical first impressions.

If you knew your first approach was the only one you ever will get, would you do things differently than you are now? Because it just may be.

PS: Here are more prompts and strategies I use in my approach to the four pillars and feel free to reach out to me for my account plan template.

Past Prompts for CSMs:

  • How long has the account been active? 
  • What products do they use with us?
  • Who are all the contacts that worked on the account?
  • Who are all the contacts we worked with on the customer side?
  • What is the current utilization?
  • Have we agreed to any unique processes with the customer?
  • Is there anything currently in limbo?
  • What has the customer communicated regarding their future Priorities?
  • What else?

Past Prompts for Sales:

  • When was the company founded?
  • Are they privately held, publicly traded, VC funded?
  • How many employees does the company have?
  • What is the make-up of their employees – how many sales, engineers, product managers etc.
  • Have we approached them previously?
  • Are they using any of our competitors?
  • What else?

Priority Prompts:

  • What are their recent advertisements saying?
  • What are the recent posts on social media?
  • Can you find what their customers are asking for?
  • What are their competitors doing?
  • Where is their industry going?
  • What have they shared with other team members?
  • Is their roadmap publicly available?
  • Do they publicize quarterly reports?
  • What else?

Persona Prompts:

  • What is their role?
  • What are their KPI’s in the role?
  • What keeps them up at night?
  • How do they describe themselves?
  • How do others describe them?
  • How has their communication style been with us in the past?
  • E-mails or Call Preference?
  • Career History?
  • What else?

Plan Prompts:

  • If you worked for the customer, what would you want?
  • If you were the customers customer, what would you want?
  • Can we create a demo that showcases our live pitch?
  • Did we find anything in their account setup, or data that we can provide cost savings, or improved performance?
  • Can we create a mock-up for them of our solution using a wireframe editor?
  • How do we build trust first?
  • What if they don’t respond?
  • What else?

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