How are you using the power of first impression

September 21, 2009
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You have THE meeting. The CEO has agreed to give you 30 minutes. This is the opportunity you have been hoping — working — for.

Now is the time to hone your presentation to perfection … or is it?

Do you honestly think the CEO wants to hear you rant for 30 minutes?

First of all, he or she will most likely decide in five minutes or less if you are someone he wants to do business with. And second of all, whatever you’re selling, chances are he already knows about it.

Now is the time to prepare a greeting, an opening exchange, and 10 killer questions that separate you from the competition.

And you’d better figure out what the brief opening exchange will consist of.

Are you going to give the CEO your business card? Or worse, your literature?

You probably already believe you have the best product or service in the market. Now tell me your business card is the BEST you have ever seen. And that your literature is the same: BEST.

Yeah, right. Your literature is self-serving, and your business card is somewhere between a joke and embarrassing. Certainly not best.

History: I have asked 500 audiences the question, “Which do you think is a more powerful way for me to make a first impression: with my business card or an autographed copy of one of my books?”

They unanimously answer, “With your book.” (And keep in mind I have a great business card.)

Then I ask, “Which do you think is a more powerful way for me to make a business first impression: with my brochure or an autographed copy of one of my books?”

They unanimously answer, “With your book.”

And the same audience goes out the next day and they introduce themselves with a business card and a brochure.

I don’t get it.

I have given them the answer to a powerful business introduction, and they don’t change a thing.

In their mind they think, “I don’t have a book,” or “I haven’t written a book,” or “What would I write a book about?” Or they think, “This is what my company gave me, and I’ll just wait until they give me something else.”

Then they drop the thought, even though it would make an incredible impact on their first impression and their credibility.

In short, they are giving up their edge, their WOW.

I don’t get it.

Salespeople are looking to differentiate themselves. They are looking to provide some value beyond their product or service to the customer. They are looking for something that will prove to the customer that they are superior to their competition. They moan that their product (whatever it is or isn’t) is becoming a commodity.

And they don’t do anything about it.

I don’t get it.

Do you get it? What are you willing to do? What are you willing to change, so that when you do get that CEO meeting, you are ready to make a great first impression, an impressive first impression, a differentiating first impression — and earn a sale?

Here are a few things you can do that will help:

Change your title. Make it fun, but serious: Profit Producer. Productivity Expert. Creator of Great Ideas.

Print your own card. Can’t be any worse than the one you’re carrying. Use both cards — one for image and one to prove creativity.

Bring a fun idea — one that helps them.

Bring a fun book. For example: “Seuss-isms,” a small book about the big wisdom of Dr. Seuss.

Bring a short classic book, a thought book. One that makes the CEO think about himself and thank you: “Acres of Diamonds” or “Message to Garcia.” The best source for these books is www.executivebooks.com

Write a white paper on safety, the customer’s industry, productivity or leadership. This will take time and hard work, that’s why most salespeople won’t do it. But every CEO will appreciate it and read it. Make sure you autograph it as you present it.

Bring an idea for improving or enhancing their business. This takes time, research and creativity, but it will get you in the door — and keep you there.

Caution: One of the biggest and most fatal mistakes that salespeople make is “waiting” for someone else to give you sales tools. No, that’s not how great sales are made. That’s not how you engage a CEO.

Great impressions are made, great sales are made — and made often — with tools you give to yourself.

Got tools?

Free Git-Bit: For a few more impression insights, go to www.gitomer.com and enter IMPRESS in the GitBit box. Jeffrey Gitomer can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail salesman@gitomer.com

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