Written by: PJ Taei, Founder, Uscreen.tv
Made within seconds, first impressions help your employees gain trust, build relationships and showcase your company’s character, competence and professionalism. Whenever you meet new clients in person, ensure they feel welcomed and important by training your team members to maximize first impressions.
As soon as clients pull into the parking lot and enter your business location, they should see a neat and tidy exterior. Repair potholes, pull weeds and remove trash to show clients that you take pride in your property and pay attention to details – a sign you will take the same care with managing their accounts.
A bright, cheerful and clean entrance area, waiting room, conference room and bathroom welcome clients. Replace any broken furniture or outdated furnishings, clean the public areas daily and ask staff to maintain tidy offices. Ideally, everyone should chip in to maintain an attractive and welcoming office area.
Professional attire equips your team to act with confidence, and the right clothing tells clients that you respect them and are capable of handling their affairs in a responsible manner. Whether your business attire includes suits or casual wear, clothes showcase your company’s competency and support your business’ brand, so encourage your team to dress for success.
Before meeting new clients, your team should research their backgrounds, interests and achievements on social media and try to find similarities. Whether it’s a similar educational background, hobbies or interests, this information can help your team connect with clients as individuals and starts the relationship on common ground.
Advise your staff to arrive early for scheduled meetings. An early arrival demonstrates responsibility and gives your team time to tidy the meeting space, check their appearance, calm nerves and put on a smile.
Team members should anticipate their clients’ arrival and stand to greet them immediately. They should resist the temptation to get distracted by the phone, email or other tasks because the clients need to know that they’re valued and important.
A firm handshake conveys warmth, sincerity and authority. Practice shaking hands, smiling and making eye contact as you prepare your team to greet new clients properly.
With a friendly smile, your team can diffuse tension, relieve nerves and boost positivity. Coach all your employees to smile throughout the meeting and improve everyone’s comfort and mood.
After greeting clients and before starting to pitch your consultation services, educational videos or whatever you offer, teach your team members how to start and maintain engaging, friendly and authentic small talk. Making friends and establishing rapport with your clients demonstrates your genuine care and concern for the long-term relationship that could potentially develop after today’s meeting.
Active, attentive listening demonstrates respect, builds rapport and allows your team to better serve clients. Coach your team members to make eye contact, lean in, offer their full attention and listen carefully. Instead of interrupting, finishing the client’s sentences or planning their response, they should always listen and show that they’re fully engaged with the client as they build relationships and meet needs.
Talking rapidly may allow your team to say more in less time, but a fast conversation pace can create an atmosphere of mistrust and misunderstanding. Remind your team to slow down, think and take their time as they chat with new clients.
Sometimes, your team knows when they’ll meet new clients and can prepare in advance. However, your team and the building should remain prepared at all times for surprise first-time visitors.
Practice meeting new clients as you prepare for positive first impressions. Examine the parking area, entrance and waiting room objectively, and ask your team members to role play. If possible, record these role playing test meetings and review details like the greeting, body language and voice tone. Use the data you collect to improve your first impressions.
If you want to build your business, train your team members to maximize first impressions. Those few seconds equip your company to showcase its competency and build strong relationships with clients from the start.