You win or lose business in the first 30 seconds of a conversation

Tips on how to make first impressions count

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I have been working in the “real world” for approximately a year now and have come to learn a lot about the right and wrong ways to do business. I don’t pretend to be an expert by any means, but I do feel like I have a firm grip on what should be the logical and obvious ways of doing certain things in business.

For instance, as a salesperson, I spend a lot of my time on the phone making cold calls, follow-up calls, maintenance calls, etc. It is not my preferred way of doing business – I prefer a more hands on, personal approach to things, but as the business world continues to get faster and faster adjustments must be made. Thus, more and more of my time is spent on the phone and writing and answering emails.

So, when making and receiving telephone calls, I always try to make them as personable, polite, and comfortable as possible. You will never hear me answer a phone call with ‘hello?’ It will always be some variation of ‘hello, this is Hans Appen, how may I assist you?’

Now, maybe that is just the way I was raised, but to me this seems like a no brainer. When answering a phone call as a representative of a business, it is always recommended to introduce yourself first and foremost in a cheerful and polite manner. It starts out a conversation well, and the caller does not have to spend his next two minutes figuring out who he is talking to and if they can assist him with his call.

The same can be said of anyone working at a retail store where customers come to shop or peruse products. The first employee they see when they walk in the store must always be the friendliest, most helpful employee in the store. It also helps if they are knowledgeable about the products and their whereabouts as well. With the amount of business that is out there today, no store can afford to lose out to a competitor because the person answering their phones or greeting new customers turns away new customers with their nonchalant or disinterested attitude.

For example, one of my friends and longtime client – Brian Iroff, of Iroff & Son Jewelers – is a consummate professional and a master of customer service. I have been into his store many times and have been able to watch his interactions with customers on occasion. It is always very personable, helpful, and professional. There is almost always candy or snacks on his table and a bottle of water is always offered when someone is perusing his jewelry. He is hands on with his help, but not to the extent of driving people away. More often than not, his shoppers return and become regular customers.

It is a simple idea that believe it or not, a lot of businesses don’t get. When you or your employees answer the phone as a representative of your business: be cheerful, polite, introduce yourself by name and company, and ask how you can assist them. Essentially the same thing must be done for anyone greeting customers at the door. First impressions are critical for any business that wants to succeed and retain customers.