A lot is made of first impressions. I believe a lot should be made about last impressions, too. But whether the sales call you are making is your first, second, or twenty-fifth call on the same client, you are leaving an impression. You don’t want that impression to be negative.
One of the things that you are being judged on is your discipline. Your appearance is one of the ways someone can discern your self-discipline.
Have Clean Shoes
Honestly, good shoes are expensive. I used to buy one brand of business shoes because they were so reliably sturdy and held up well under all conditions. Sadly this is no longer true of that brand. I am trying a new brand now, and they seem to be far sturdier, and I am tough on shoes.
Here is what is important. Your shoes need to be clean and polished. It’s easy to keep them looking good with a little bit of care. But you also need to be prepared to clean them up enough for sales calls while you are out on the road.
Those little Kiwi Instant Shine Sponges work incredibly well to clean up your shoes. They cost around $6.00, and they take up almost no room. Put a couple in a box in your trunk or in your glove box.
You might also throw in a couple extra pairs of shoelaces, too.
I don’t smoke, and I am not judgmental about people that do smoke. It’s terribly addicting, and I believe most people would quit if it were easier to do so. But because I am not judgmental doesn’t mean that your prospective client won’t be. When you smoke, you stink like smoke to non-smokers. Some will judge you.
If you are in the field making sales calls, don’t smoke in your car on the way to your sales call. If you can avoid it, don’t smoke before calls at all. If you have to smoke, find some way to minimize the odor without making it obvious by spraying something all over you (that just makes you smell like smoke and whatever you sprayed on yourself).
If you are putting your client in your car, it can’t smell like smoke either.
Clean Teeth, Fresh Breath
You are making a sales call. You are going to be talking, and you are going to be close enough to shake hands with your client and greet them. You need clean teeth and clean breath. Anything less is impolite.
Keep a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash in your desk. Keep another toothbrush and travel-size toothpaste in your briefcase or bag. I like the dental toothpicks with the built-in floss. You can toss a zip-lock bag with some of those in your bag, and you can keep another in your car.
Also keep mints in your desk, your bag, and your car.
Prepared to Capture Ideas
Have you ever seen a salesperson borrow a pen from their client? How about paper? This isn’t high school, and you can’t show up unprepared and bum paper and pen from the kid sitting next to you. You are a paid professional, and you need to be prepared.
I like a good pen, so I never lose them. But pen and paper are cheap commodities. You can buy a bunch of legal pads and a box of pens and put them in a box in your trunk.
I am mostly paperless. I carry the iPad 2, and I use Evernote. I never leave the house without my iPad because it is my primary capture tool.
You don’t need to worry about making a good impression by having a fancy leather portfolio as much as you have to worry about the impression it makes when you aren’t prepared to capture what is important to your dream client. Don’t try to impress them with your memory. Impress them with your disciplined attention to details.
Clean and Crisp Collateral
Your company paid top dollar to print four-color glossy sales collateral for you to leave behind on your sales calls. You have left on the back seat of your car, and now that sales collateral is dirty, dog-eared, and it’s embarrassing.
You can buy a plastic box for files for a few dollars. You can equip that with hanging files for a few bucks more. You can load that box up with all of the things in this post, and you can prevent yourself from being embarrassed to hand somebody your mangled sales collateral.
What do you need to keep with you so you can make a good impression?
What are you sometimes guilty of that might make you appear undisciplined, unprepared, or unprofessional?
What mistakes have you noticed in others when it comes to the impression that they make?
What have you noticed others do that makes a killer first–and last–impression?
What might your client be judging you on?
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