One tenth of a second, that’s just 100 milliseconds.
According to research, it’s also how long it takes for someone to form their first impression of you. For what feels like decades, we’ve been taught that our first impression is the key moment that will absolutely make or break any relationship. But how is it possible to create a positive impression within such a microscopic period of time? You prepare.
We carefully develop our elevator pitches, perfect our handshakes, and craft our introductions. But with the initial judgement occurring so instantaneously, only the Flash is capable of introducing himself, shaking hands, and delivering a pitch within such a short amount of time.
There is hope for those of us without superpowers. When the science says the prospect forms their opinion the moment the elevator door opens, the pitch should become our second priority. Instead, spend your time cultivating honest enthusiasm for what you do, and you can nail the initial interaction and set yourself up for success in the elevator pitch and beyond.
The importance of first impressions
The extreme attention given to the first impression is valid. Research shows that a positive first impression actually makes you more likeable, and even more importantly, it influences the rest of the conversation. In sales this impacts the way your prospects receive your demos, advice, and input. The first impression serves as a lens through which all future interactions are viewed. In the end, people buy from those that they like, and a great first impression frames you as a credible resource.
Your first impression could make or break a sale.
Let’s be honest, when we are approached by salespeople, the first thought we have is, “they are trying to sell me something,” and we become defensive. Humans naturally protect their own best interest, including time. A positive first impression softens that shield and makes the sales job easier.
It’s important to remember, you are not just selling the product, you are a part of the product. Your prospects are purchasing you as much as they are your company. If you ensure that every interaction is great, your overall product appears better, and you make a purchase even more likely.
The power of enthusiasm
One of the largest factors of a great first impression is your enthusiasm. In sales, if you are enthusiastic about your product and company, your prospect will be too.
I’ve seen excellent demos that thoroughly explained a product in all of its technical depth, but never felt any excitement. On the other hand, I’ve seen surface-level demos that essentially said, “Hey! Look how awesome this product is!” and come away feeling pumped about the product. The salesperson’s enthusiasm is contagious, and that first impression gives them an edge.
Enthusiastic employees spur customers to become advocates. If you are excited about your company, it rubs off on your prospects, and they buy your excitement as much as they buy the benefits of your solution. Over the past seven years, companies with engaged and enthusiastic employees grew their revenues 2.5 times more than companies with low employee engagement.
One important note is that your enthusiasm absolutely must be genuine and not be overbearing in any way. False excitement is easy to detect and too much will turn off your prospects and drive them away, much like the insurance salesman from Groundhog Day.
How to be genuinely enthusiastic
Genuine enthusiasm does not come naturally to everyone, and that’s not a bad thing. In order to create enthusiasm in sales, there are several steps you can take in order to find your genuine excitement.
Love what you are doing
First and foremost, it is extremely difficult to be positive unless you like what you do. It’s important that you care about your company, your products, and your customers. Align yourself with your company’s mission, take time to learn what they seek to accomplish, and how they have positively impacted customers through real success stories. Find the reasons why you want your company and team to succeed. If you don’t actually love your product, how can you make others love it?
Expanding your knowledge is an easy way to become more enthusiastic about what you do. Learn your industry, the verticals you sell to, and your customer personas. Understand your product inside and out, as well as all the unique way it has created success for your customers.
Be a valuable resource for your prospects. Don’t just be a salesperson, utilize your knowledge to actually help them. You will find this is more fulfilling. If you have a passion for learning, knowing more about your product is an excellent way to develop passion. Your prospects will view you as a business partner instead of just a sales rep.
Show me someone who is curious and I’ll show you someone with great sales potential. Along with having a complete understanding of your product, people who are curious to learn more make great salespeople because they genuinely want to know about the people they are selling to and how they can help them.
Be interested in your prospects, not just as customers, but as people. Be curious about who they are and what they want to accomplish. Questions are key to unlocking a buyer’s intent. Ask about their company, their products, and how they help people. Understand why they why they are shopping for a product like yours and how they plan on using it to make them better. Curiosity about your prospect’s problems creates enthusiasm for solving them, and you appear as a person who wants to help.
Believe in yourself and your product
This may be the toughest to do. Sometimes it comes down to just believing. No matter what else you do, conviction that you, your company, and your products are making a difference in people’s lives. Believe that you are legitimately solving people’s problems and helping them be better. Believe that what you are doing is right, and that you are capable of exceeding your goals.
Enthusiasm is infectious, especially when it comes to sales. When you genuinely share your passion about your product and are excited about what it can do for your prospects, they feel it too. You and your product instantly become more likeable, and your sales process becomes easier.