In A Sales World Sorely Lacking Trust, Noodle On This... First Impressions Are Lasting Impressions.

Jun 19, 2023
In A Sales World Sorely Lacking Trust, Noodle On This... First Impressions Are Lasting Impressions.
"Our first impressions are generated by our experiences and our environment, which means that we can change our first impressions... by changing the experiences that comprise those impressions."
Malcolm Gladwell

As we kick-off our time together, please allow the above quote to simmer a bit, and now think about the perception of salespeople.

I believe people's initial judgments and perceptions of salespeople are influenced by their past experiences. If you all buy into phrase, "Perception is reality", then what's the perception of salespeople in looking at this through the lens of your clients or future clients?

First impressions are tricky because they can either make or break an entire experience.

To quote, Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot,

“Never lose the first impression which has moved you.”

Are your first impressions, encounters and experiences causing people to lean into your conversations or lean back?

For many of us, first impressions become a filter for all future interactions with someone. In some occasions, this becomes difficult to change someone’s first impression of us.

Whether first encounter impressions are accurate or not, it normally takes a long time along with a concerted effort to change a first impression, would you agree?

Recent research by SuperOffice, around positive first impressions, shows that "72% of people are likely to spread the word to six or more people."

  • Do you ever wonder what's motoring through someone's mind the first 5-15 minutes of your sales conversations?
  • Do you ever wonder what they're thinking 5 minutes after you left the meeting?
  • Do you ever wonder how many other people they may have shared your experience with after they meet with you?

In a business world where we're digitally empowered and hyper-connected, think about the role first impressions play in the "what happens next" conversations.

We do know this, a first impression can be formed as a result of a conversation, however; it can also be created by someone catching a glimpse of you, from a distance.

You never know who has been watching you.

Now, think about your voice mails, emails and social interactions.

Are you getting the picture?

In the world we live in today, first impressions are no longer face to face. How you carry yourself online, and on any social platform, will play a significant role in perception and first impressions.

Are your first impressions leading to meaningful connection or disenchanting disengagement?

I'm a firm believer in the "What is old is forever new."

When it comes to the importance of first impressions, let's look no further than to Dale Carnegie, as he was the legendary people-skills leader and the author of the internationally acclaimed book, How To Win Friends And Influence People.

Dale Carnegie said,

“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.”  

He dedicated extensive time and experimented with the best ways to reliably make a good impression.

Carnegie held these six rules above all others...

  • Become genuinely interested in other people
  • Smile
  • Remember that a person’s name is to them the sweetest and most important sound in any language
  • Be a good listener and encourage other people to talk about themselves
  • Talk in terms of the other person’s interests
  • Make the other person feel important, and do it sincerely

Attention sales world...

Are you genuinely interested in your client or future client conversations?

Are you actively and with intention engaging with them?

Are you showing that you value their thoughts and opinions?

With trust and credibility being anemically low within the sales world, let's pause for a moment and ask yourself, "Am I applying the six rules by Dale Carnegie to my initial encounters with new sales opportunities?"

Imagine people using these words in describing their first meeting or interaction with you... confident, engaged, genuine, honest, humble, trusting, joyful and calming.

The more comfortable you make someone feel in that first interaction, the more comfortable they will become in sharing things about themselves and their business.
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When meeting someone for the first time, we are met with so many possibilities; do we judge based on their appearance? By their handshake? By their looks, voice or how they carry themselves?

This plays out in our personal lives and definitely applies to our professional lives.

When it comes to first impressions and building trust, are these first impression experiences hindering or helping you establish any levels of trust?

Amy Cuddy, a psychologist at the Harvard Business School, found that our first impressions of others provide the answers to two main questions:

Can I trust this person?

Can I respect this person’s capabilities?

She went on to say, two people who meet are questioning, “Can I trust that this person has good intentions toward me?” and “Is this person capable?”

These are the main questions we are asking ourselves when looking at developing trust and maintaining it.

Now, think about how this plays out with your first-in meetings, your first interactions, and how you carry yourself.

There are fascinating findings from the Harvard Study of Communications and Amy Cuddy reinforcing the importance of first impressions:

  • Only 7% of people form their first impressions of you based on the words you say.
  • 55% of a first impression is visual: how you look, how you stand, how you dress or whether you make eye contact.
  • Two-fold impressions, which typically answer the questions ‘What is this person’s intention’ and ‘how strong are they’ hold true across all cultures and account for 80-90% of an overall first impression.
  • Attempting to be the more dominant one in a conversation could make it harder for the other person to trust you and may shut them down completely. A natural interaction and a focus on establishing trust will bring about trust and will allow others to open up to you.
  • Establish trust by allowing the other person to speak first, opening with a question, helping the other person to feel understood and collecting information about their interests and needs.

To further reinforce the point, allow this quote courtesy of Amy Cuddy sink in,

"If someone you're trying to influence doesn't trust you, you're not going to get very far; in fact, you might even elicit suspicion because you come across as manipulative. A warm, trustworthy person who is also strong elicits admiration, but only after you've established trust does your strength become a gift rather than a threat."

What gifts are you leaving in your conversations?

First impressions are lasting impressions.

I must ask... Are you fully engaged, intentionally listening and bringing your authentic self to your initial conversations and encounters?


"You never get a second chance to make a first impression."
Will Rogers

I would like for you to put yourself in the shoes of the other person you're meeting for the first time, do you wonder if this runs through their mind?

"Stop trying to impress me. I can make up my own mind about whether I like you; trust you; or even believe you. You don’t have to make up my mind for me."

True human connection must be placed front and center as the facilitator to a positive first impression. We're all wired to connect. It is part of the prescription for health and happiness.

As social beings, we have an innate desire for connection and belonging.

Positive first impressions create the foundation for establishing meaningful relationships.

Positive first impressions built on authentic connections lead to stronger relationships and increased collaboration.

When you make your clients and future clients feel valued and appreciated during your meetings, it sets a positive tone for the relationship to develop further.

While an amazing and inspirational first impression can lay the groundwork for connection, this doesn't guarantee its longevity or depth. Sustaining a meaningful connection will require ongoing effort, communication, and mutual commitment.

A positive first impression leads to connection and cohesion.

If first impressions matter, then what are you doing about it?


If what others think of you (think initial meeting) matter, then I ask you to pay attention to how others see you the first time you meet.

I would ask you to remember the person you're in front of, as they may be saying to themselves:

  • Do you see me?
  • Do you hear me?
  • Do you get me?
  • Does what I say matter to you?

J.K. Rowling went on to say,

"A good first impression can work wonders."

I leave you all to think about this...

What is racing through someone's mind when they meet with you for the first time?

Originally published on Larry Levine's LinkedIn.

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