When you walk into Walmart, you’re immediately greeted by the Greeter. They greet you cheerfully and ask you what you need. They direct you to where you need to go. And it makes a difference in your overall experience.

Unfair as it might be, we make our first impression in a matter of moments and those judgments aren’t necessarily based on our education or dazzling good looks.

Your first impression of someone may be hasty and incorrect, but it can develop the way we feel about someone for years to come. Often it is very hard to wipe away the first thoughts and feelings we developed in those moments of meeting someone.

This is true not only of the people you meet, but also brands and their products. It’s important for businesses to consider the first impression they make and leverage it to make the best impression possible.

The first impression you make on potential customers or clients is largely what influences them to eventually buy from you, no matter how solid your unique value proposition or how helpful and amazing your products and services may be. 

From the very beginning, you need to make an impression that represents you and your product or service and continue to cement this good impression through your relationship with the client or customer – across every department in your company.

That’s why today’s topic is all about the most important job at any company: the greeter, why and how B2B companies can benefit from this idea.

Can You Control The First Impression You Give?

“Our inclination to make these snap judgements is rooted in our early evolutionary need to determine whether or not a stranger poses a threat.”
— Michael Woodward, Psychologist

A Princeton University study found that people judge trustworthiness the quickest – in split seconds – but that even when given more time, those judgements still tended to stick. 

What does that mean for your company, and specifically for your sales team? It means that trust matters – and that first impressions matter.

Now, obviously, you can’t control what goes on in other people’s minds, however, social psychology teaches that there are definitely several things you can do to ensure a good impression. This is especially important because as Director of Growth Marketing at nextiva, Gaetano DiNardi writes, 

“A negative first impression for any brand can be extremely damaging in [2021]. Prospects tend to remember negative experiences above the positive ones.”

That’s just basic human behavior – we tend to remember negative experiences. 

Which explains why, especially in this day and age when products and services aren’t so different when it comes down to it, the experience you offer is often the deciding factor in whether or not you can get that prospect to sign on the dotted line and become a new client, or whether or not you can keep the clients you already have. 

For example, people don’t typically think of the Sales Development Rep (SDR) as a role that necessarily helps to develop the relationship a company as a whole has with a client, but their role is extremely important for the relationship. If an SDR’s role is to qualify a prospect and move the conversation forward through email or phone calls, these are person to person touchpoints and the SDR represents your company. 

The SDR, while not the closer, is an important part of the conversation your prospective client has with your company. They are part of the overall experience. To quote Gaetano DiNardi again, he hits the nail on the head,

“Imagine your prospect is a bank account. If you’ve never made a deposit, how do you expect to withdraw anything? This is what sales reps should think about before blindly asking a cold prospect for a meeting. Your SDRs should focus on the development of leads through true conversation and connection.”

Let’s go back to this idea of the “Greeter” role  specifically. Who’s the equivalent of the “Walmart greeter” at your company? In most cases, there isn’t just one person.

It may be the SDR, in which case, you’ll want to make sure your SDR’s are trained to connect, not just to look for certain qualifying attributes and ask for the sale. That will give a bad impression, leaving the prospect feeling like just another number. 

Now, you need to ensure that you approach every touchpoint with “Connection” in mind. In other words, you want to focus on the relationship. And as any relationship expert will tell you, it starts with understanding the prospect – what they need, what they’re really looking for (it may not necessarily be what they say at first), what kind of weight they give to certain things over others, etc.

Remember, the first impression of a company can come from anywhere, including your website, your customer service, your sales rep, your blog, your reputation.

Let’s discuss how to ensure that no matter where, or who, your “Greeter” is, that you continually give a good first impression across the board – and continue to cement it in the mind of your prospects and clients.

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How to Guarantee A Good First Impression – and Keep It Good

In a broad sense, giving a good first impression means understanding what it takes to build a relationship. 

Jonathan Dawson of Sellchology offers three tips:

  1. Use pattern interruption. Use your introduction to interrupt the pattern of your customers. Jonathan encourages sales teams to ask, “Is this what my client will expects?” If not, you’re not interrupting the likely fading into the background. That won’t get you remembered. Learn to interrupt the pattern – and specifically the expectation they have of “talking to a sales person” for example.
  2. Be proactive. Ask yourself, “Am I anticipating their questions and concerns prior to or before they come up?” and “Am I allowing common questions and concerns to be thrown at me and then defensively or reactively handling them?”
  3. Get their permission to sell. As Jonathan explains, the customer retains the right to the sale; the ball is in their court and as long as it is, you cannot take the lead. So again, ask yourself, “Are you making sure that they’re choosing to follow you?” and “Are you getting their permission for you (your team) to do your job of helping them find the best solution?

A first impression usually starts before you actually speak to someone though. How do you attract people in the first place?

Here are some more tips from LinkedIn’s Amanda B., who analyzed a list of nine mistakes that will instantly destroy a first impression that CNBC recently published sourced from a collection of CEOs and entrepreneurs. Amanda zeros in on these mistakes from a B2B selling perspective. 

Below is LinkedSelling’s spin on a few of these mistakes. Keep these in mind and discuss with your team, so that you can give a good impression at every level of your company:

  1. Show and Instill confidence online
  2. Don’t be dismissive
  3. Ask Good Questions
  4. Remember Your Reputation
  5. Provide Value First

Show & Instill Confidence Online

In a world where strong handshakes don’t literally close the sale anymore, Amanda writes, “there’s relevance in the underlying premise: we need to build trust through human connections right away.”

Know your values, and what you stand for. No one wants to work with anyone who is “wishy washy.” These days, when so many sales are happening virtually, handshakes are impossible, however, you can still portray a sense of confidence by:

  • understanding what you offer
  • believing that you are the best solution out there (how can you sell if you don’t believe this??), 
  • And showing up prepared (more on this below)

Amanda explains that one way to build trust sans in-person connection is through video. She references Jean-Marc Saint Laurent who makes the case to create video pitches. He explains that videos help instill trust because they are “a dynamic medium that allow for more human communication incorporating: body language, tone of voice, and the spoken word.” In essence, video allows you to share more of yourself because they involve more of the senses. So consider making video pitches!

Amanda also encourages you to ensure that your social media presence is up to date, with words and photos that inspire trust. (Clean, clear, and inviting.) Check out our blog post for more tips on how to optimize your LinkedIn profile for example, and what pictures to avoid at all costs…

Don’t Be Dismissive

We talk a lot about going after the big account, finding the people that are right for you and your company (that often means people who can pay on time and who won’t continuously haggle you), but it’s worth it to look at the smaller players too.

“…it’s unwise to dismiss the potential of any buyer engagement. You never know when hitting it off with someone — even a person with no interest in your solution at the time — will open new doors or pay dividends down the line.”

Take Jeff Bezos, for example. Amazon.com certainly didn’t start out as the giant it is today. That sign is literally spray painted. But I’m betting that the people who they used as vendors to begin with and built great relationships with were remembered once Amazon grew.

Ignoring, being dismissive, or even being rude to “the little” could be a very costly mistake down the road. Even if you’re not actively searching the guys out, when they get in touch with you or your teams, they deserve every bit of respect and attention and the “big accounts” do.

You never know who will remember that great first impression your company gave and who might come back once they are able. If it makes sense for your business, in lieu of only offering high-end services (ie high priced services) consider offering something at different levels of entry so that you can better accommodate “the little guy” and keep them coming back so that as they grow, they’ll know who to go to. (Even if it only means free content, offer something).

Ask Good Questions

This is a great way to get to know your prospects and clients better – and the better you know them, the more you can connect with them – and build trust with them. Another benefit is that it will make selling easier when you can “pick up on an individual’s priorities and perspectives based on how they respond [to your open ended questions].”

Remember Your Reputation

Remember that first impressions don’t just come from the “Walmart Greeter”, whoever that is in your company. This is another reason why it’s crucial that your online presence be up to par. These days, you can expect any prospective customer or client to look you up. They’ll find you on Google, on LinkedIn, and on any number of places.

Try it out yourself. Type in your name and your company’s name. What do you see first? Does it instill trust? Does it speak directly to your prospect and offer them value (whether directly related to your services or not)?

Provide Value First

We’ve alluded to this several times already, but it’s worth mentioning directly. Do NOT go straight for the jugular and give a sales pitch. This is why it’s critical you understand your prospects… know what gives them value. Like Jonathan mentioned above, be proactive. 

Get to know what is relevant to your prospects and clients. For example, when we talk about using content as a way to build authority, we talk about providing information not just about your industry, but about what’s going in your clients’ industries. THIS is what is relevant to them, and by the way, THIS is how you become the go-to for your clients.

Otherwise, if you use your SDR’s to make calls and they’re super salesly… in your prospect’s head, images of bored salesman spring to mind, including the cluttered cubicle, the fluorescent lights, and let’s not forget that robotic, monotone voice and lackluster attitude. What will happen? Click. *Dial tone*

This is again where you need to interrupt the pattern by building a relationship with the client and offering value instead of confirming the expectation of “sales” that’s already in their head. Doing so also addresses some of the other mistakes from the CNBC article: 

  • Showing signs of disinterest
  • Taking First, Giving Later
  • Speaking Before You Listen
  • And Trying too Hard

If sales teams, and companies in general, would understand that when they are listening to and actively engaged in understanding and knowing their prospects, they not only entirely eliminate the desperation of trying to close a deal (keeping your pipeline full also helps with that one), but they position themselves as a true resource instead of as a another vendor. 

This alone does wonders in building trust and making and cementing that first impression. It’s a relationship-based approach where your role as an SDR, or Account Manager, or Sales Closer, or Customer Service agent, or even in Marketing… is to simply be helpful. 

That’s not to say you don’t want to flaunt your assets. You do. Always put your best foot forward and at the right times, let your prospects know what you have to offer and why you’re better than any other choice. Just remember to only do so within the overall context of being helpful and of service – and maybe not right away. Your first impression should be one of giving value, not of selling.

Remember, you want to be the trusted advisor and counselor, not that bored sales rep who’s making calls from their cubicle and just trying to meet quota. It’s a different mindset altogether.

The First Impression Matters

To sum up, your first impression is judged within a split second. It might not be fair or accurate, but your prospects have already made that judgement. That’s why the concept of the “Greeter” is important; it’s your website, it’s the SDR who makes that call, it’s every touchpoint your prospect has with you. 

Keep in mind the tips we covered above, all of which revolve around the mindset of offering value and focusing on building trust before going for the sale.


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