Want to make a great first impression with your customers? Time for a bit of common sense


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Do you remember your first day at school? How about your first job interview? Or even your first date? Even then you probably realised that those first impressions could decide the success of your experience. Getting it right is critical, but it’s sometimes easier said than done. Perhaps it’s time to get back to basics, stop reading the theory and put a few common-sense moves into action!

1. Smile as you dial

Making a great impression starts with the telephone appointment. If your tone is warm and friendly, your potential customer will already be feeling positive about meeting you. To demonstrate your professionalism, follow up the call with a confirmation email, which includes the agenda items for the meeting.

2. Arrive early

It’s obvious isn’t it? But, it’s amazing how many people do arrive a few moments late. For most customers this instantly conveys the message that you believe your time is more important than theirs and that you care more about your business, rather than theirs.

There are always very occasional justifications for lateness, but, unless it’s a rock solid reason, you need to ensure you leave plenty of time to arrive early. This has the added benefit that you can compose yourself in readiness for the meeting.

3. Take a deep breath

It’s natural to feel a little unsure when meeting someone new, but smiling and being relaxed with your customers will help them, in turn, to relax. It’s difficult to succeed in any business meeting when there are high levels of anxiety and mistrust from the customer, so don’t under-estimate the need for this.

4. Practise your introduction

It’s worth spending time preparing your introduction beforehand. You need to be able to give your name, company and the ‘elevator pitch’ of what your company is about as well as why it’s important for your customer. If this is clumsy or difficult to follow, you’ll struggle to win back a customer’s attention.

ETS image
ETS image

5. Do your homework

What does your customer’s business do? Has it been in the news? What does your contact especially focus on? There’s little excuse for ignorance in these days of Google and LinkedIn.

6. Ask questions….properly.

Very quickly into the proceedings you need to start asking questions. Your customers mustn’t feel as though it’s a job interview or interrogation, but you do need to establish their requirements, what’s important to them, what’s irrelevant and what’s driving their need for this product or service.

There are many ways to ask questions so that it’s a pleasant experience for your customers. If you’re worried you’re not able to do this, perhaps it’s worth training in NLP (Neuro linguistic programming). It could give you more confidence in your questioning ability.

Without doubt, first impressions are important, and it’s worth getting them right. Your customers need to know that you value them, and that you understand them, but perhaps above all they need to feel good – about you and your business. Take note from the observation of author Maya Angelou, when she said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” And when you make your customers feel good, then you know you got that first impression just right.


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