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Aspects of a First Impression Every Salesperson Needs to Know

Aspects of a First Impression Every Salesperson Needs to Know

In business, first impressions can be the difference between closing a sale and walking away empty-handed.

In business, first impressions can be the difference between closing a sale and walking away empty-handed. Within the initial few seconds of meeting a new person, we decide if we like them — and that first impression stays with us. In an act called thin-slicing, we take a mental snapshot of someone and guess their competence, confidence, and likeability, and that opinion often doesn’t change.

This means you have to decide how you want to be perceived. What’s one word you want people to associate with you? Be introspective: Ask yourself how you come across to others and the kinds of interactions you want to have with people. Work on your soft skills. Improve your ability to communicate effectively, your attitude, and your ability to relax and be yourself. But don’t stop there: Take into account your appearance, and use it to project an appropriate personal image. Stand in a confident position, make eye contact, and ensure your handshake is ready to close deals. With these tips and others found in the infographic below, every salesperson will make the right kind of first impression.

4 steps to transforming your sales process.

Your First Impression Matters

  • Studies have found that within the first few seconds of meeting someone:
    • We decide if we like them
    • That first impression stays with us
  • A good first impression is important—you only get one chance
  • Thin-slicing
    • Thin-slicing is when our opinion of someone doesn’t change
    • We take a mental snapshot and in a matter of seconds guess someone’s:
      • Competence
      • Confidence
      • Likability
    • Researchers think this may be a survival mechanism we developed to quickly decide if someone is friend or foe

Decide How You Want to be Perceived

  • Before a networking or business event, consider the following:
    • What do people think when they first meet you?
      • I am _____.
        • Choose one word from this list or name your own:
          • Kind
          • Charismatic
          • Intelligent
          • Witty
          • Fun
          • Powerful
          • Engaging
          • Wise
          • Professional
          • _____
  • Ask yourself
    • “Is my first impression all positive?”
    • “Do I come across as negative?”
  • Know where you stand in order to move to where you want to be.
  • The most important thing to do to give a good impression is to set your intention: “I want to be _____.”
    • This is especially important before events where you will meet a lot of people, such as at
      • Conferences
      • Networking events
      • Social events
    • While you get ready for an event, think about:
      • The people you want to meet
      • What kind of interactions you want to have

10 Ways to Make a Strong First Impression

  • 1. Communication
    • Aristotle broke down the process of communication into three parts
      • Ethos – Credibility
        • The reason people should believe you
        • Revolves around the person you are and the person you are perceived to be
        • Demonstrate Ethos:
          • Rank within your organization
          • Expertise
          • Displaying strong levels of integrity and character
      • Pathos – Emotional connection
        • Why people should believe what you’re saying will matter to them
        • Demonstrate Pathos
          • Give people your undivided attention
          • Take an active interest in team members’ career development
          • Be enthusiastic about your organization’s progress and the individuals who enable it
      • Logos — Logic
        • Appeal to people’s sense of reason
          • Demonstrate Logos
          • Employing strategic thinking, problem solving, and analytical skills
          • Have clear, concise, and logical arguments that provide substance to the your message
          • Your arguments should be supported by:
          • Facts
          • Statistics
          • Studies
          • Examples
          • History
          • Evidence
  • 2. Attitude
    • People pick up on attitude instantly
    • Before greeting someone:
      • Think about the situation
      • Make a choice about the attitude you want to personify
    • Smile when first meeting someone
      • A smile says ‘I’m friendly and approachable”
      • Data suggests that smiling boosts your mood
      • When you get a customer in a positive mindset, selling is easier
    • Focus on that person and give them your full attention
  • 3. Appearance
    • Use your appearance to project an appropriate personal image
    • Look the part when you meet with clients
      • You want your customers to take you seriously
      • Your appearance is also a way to show them respect
    • When customers first look at you, they subconsciously make decisions:
      • Is this someone I can trust?
      • Does this person seem responsible?
  • 4. Handshake
    • Occurs at the beginning of business transactions or meetings
    • A handshake can show that you’re:
      • Emotionally stable
      • Agreeable
      • Respectful of the person you’re meeting
    • Palm direction
      • Palm extended up conveys submissiveness
      • Palm extended vertically indicates you’re equal to the person you’re meeting
    • Handshake firmness
      • “Dead fish” shake implies weakness
      • “Death grip” shake will turn people off
      • Practice handshake firmness with a coworker to hit a firmness sweet spot
  • 5. Posture and Stance
    • Stand in launch position:
      • Arms hanging loosely at side
      • Opened torso
      • Shoulders down
      • Head up
    • Launch stance demonstrates that you’re in confident and in control of your space
    • Lean in slightly
      • Leaning forward shows you’re engaged and interested
      • Stay about two feet away to be respectful of their personal space
    • Straighten your posture
    • Status and power are nonverbally conveyed by height and space
    • To convey confidence and competence
      • Stand tall
      • Pull back shoulders
      • Hold head straight
  • 6. Eyes
    • Make eye contact
      • Transmits energy
      • Indicates interest and openness
      • To improve your eye contact: Try to notice the eye color of everyone you meet
    • Raise eyebrows
      • Open your eyes slightly more than normal
        • This simulates the “eyebrow flash,” the universal signal of recognition and acknowledgement
  • 7. Relax and be yourself
    • You are good enough
    • Take a few deep breaths and relax
    • See what you can do to make the other person comfortable
      • When they’re comfortable, you’ll be more comfortable


Working on and improving your first impression can help accelerate your career and broaden your professional network. Try implementing some of these tips at the next business meeting or social event you attend.

Take your sales game to the next level with the tips in our free ebook, “4 Steps to Transforming Your Sales Process.”

4 steps to transforming your sales process.

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