Everyone has heard the expression, “You only get one chance to make a good first impression.” First impressions are how we initially identify with each other. It’s the way we determine if we should walk on the other side of the road or not. Many people enjoy “people watching” and, in doing so, begin to imagine who these total strangers are. Think about that for a moment. Like it or not, we form opinions based on physical appearance. The proof is too insurmountable to dispute. So, given this, we should understand that the very first step in the process of our sale, the “meet and greet,” plays a large role in how fast or effectively we begin to build rapport with our potential customer.
Every successful endeavor begins with a good start! When we have an opportunity to meet a visitor to our business, two things have to happen: we have to determine what his/her needs are and we need to build rapport that leads to trust. So, how do we go about establishing that rapport? First, when we are approaching our customers, whether on the lot or in the showroom, we should always be square to them--heart to heart, face-to-face, maintaining a suitable distance. This approach signals openness and exhibits you have nothing to hide. It also allows you to look into the customer’s eyes and have your eyes exposed as well. What color are their eyes? Your posture should be straight, exhibiting confidence and knowledge. Everybody wants to do business with confident and credible people. Your posture sends signals subconsciously to your prospects, enabling them to determine if and how much they can trust you.
A sincere smile on your face is also important because a fake smile gives off an insincere message, and insincerity portrays a self-serving agenda. Remember, customers don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care. And, your appearance plays a part in how well you attain a level of rapport with your customer. Not to mention, your clothing speaks volumes on how people perceive you. I am not suggesting that you have to sport expensive clothing, but what you do wear should be neat, clean and presentable. While the unshaven look for men may be acceptable in today’s world, it does cover the face and suggests there is something to hide. Realizing that body jewelry and tattoos are also more accepted in our culture today, they still could pose a stigma with your prospective customer. Keep this in mind: while you’re approaching your customer and you haven’t even said a word yet, he/she is already assessing an opinion of you. Ask yourself, what image do you want your customer to see you in? Your image of professionalism and service has shown up before you have even opened your mouth.
This brings us to how your verbal greeting should go. Should you simply greet them with a welcome? Acknowledge the time of day? Or, just extend your hand and offer your name? You shouldn’t be phony or quick in introducing yourself to customers. Taking an interest in who they are before you take an interest in how to help them can be a very good end to a great first impression.