Create a Positive Lasting Impression

We're all aware of the value in making a quality first impression. However, while your first impression is important, it's inevitably the lasting impressions that you will use in building your future sales.

Lasting impressions can rise out of the simplest things. For example, think about being out for the evening, dining at a fine restaurant. The food is great but the server lacks manners or personal hygiene, or you ask for more water and it never arrives, or the waiter blames the kitchen help for not getting your order correct. Although the food is wonderful, the experience creating your lasting impression is terrible.

In our industry, while the product in the box might be exactly what's expected, the consumer's lasting impression of the experience lies in the hands of the kitchen and bath dealer. Following are some ideas that can help put you and your firm in a position to create that positive lasting impression.

Positive steps
First, it's important that you keep your customers as the center of attention. Though this may sound easy, it's difficult to keep them as the center of attention while you keep control of the selling process. Do everything you can to make a positive difference in their projects, and never give them a reason to feel the sale killer of indifference.\

The best way to do this is to have a passion for your profession, and to share that passion with them. I wrote in my book Give Yourself a Raise Starting Today, you keep your enthusiasm by giving it away. People love doing business with people who have a passion for their work and know how to share it.

I believe it's also important for a salesperson to visualize the desired results prior to the event. This process will help keep you on track, doing the proper things to bring the expected results.

Asking the right questions and listening to the answers from a prospect remains a key part of the process. If you don't do this, or are not very skillful in this aspect of the sales process, you will attempt to sell the client what you want to sell, rather than fulfill his or her true needs. You end up trying to sell what the customer doesn't want to buy. The lasting impression of this mistake is negative.

Instead, develop your sales process and polish it to a point where your customer will feel it is unrehearsed. This creates a comfort level between you and your client, resulting in his or her trust in you, your company and your product. This, in turn, creates a long-lasting relationship, one that will leave a positive impression.

You must also actively take the leadership role to seek and create opportunities with your customer, rather than passively waiting for something to happen and then reacting to it. As long as you do it right, and don't come off as being too pushy, your customer will enjoy your leadership in guiding the project to success. With all of the frustrating situations that can occur during a remodeling or a new construction project, proper leadership will create a positive, long-lasting impression.

Other ways to create positive impressions include the following:

  • Ask for their time, make good use of it, and then thank them for it.
  • Keep on task with perseverance. While it's difficult, it will pay off in the end.
  • Keep things as simple as possible for your customers. We're in a complex industry, and they will become frustrated if you get them too involved.
  • Have patience it's a virtue. Development and successful completion of a project will most often include some elements that are beyond your control. Instead of trying to control the uncontrollable, tend to things such as returning phone calls, being punctual with your commitments, getting your information accurate and being personally accountable for the success of your customer's project.

Maintaining accuracy is another way to create a long-lasting positive impression. Our industry provides a lot of opportunity for mistakes, and many of them surface in the face of the consumer. At the end of a project, even if most things go well, the consumer may remember the errors and even magnify them in their lasting impressions.

Delivering on expectations in the customer's eyes is the judge and jury of our quality of work. It isn't unusual for the customer to have greater expectations than we're aware of, and the inevitability of this is that we fall short. This may be the result of a misstep on the part of the sales/design person, who intentionally or unintentionally built expectations beyond what can be delivered. Regardless, any time consumers don't have their targeted expectations met, they will feel over promised which results in negative feelings. While consumers may or may not articulate their feelings, their lasting impression is less than we would want.

Following up
To prevent any of these issues from getting in the way of a lasting good impression, there are several steps you can take. First, follow-up on the job to ensure that you have done everything you need to do to deliver what was expected of you. Second, explore the feelings of the customer to see if there are any lingering concerns.

Additional explanation or attention will most likely dissolve them. Your final act on a project is to thank the customer for the opportunity. Then, be sure to follow up in six months to add additional assurance that you have developed a happy and, perhaps, a repeat customer one you can feel comfortable with when you meet in the future, one who is your ally, who will say nice things about you and create referrals.

While all of the previously mentioned suggestions don't guarantee your sales success, they will improve the likelihood, as well as the profitability, of success.

I was prompted to write about positive lasting impressions this month because I know they work. Recently, a new prospect came to our company, and the people were motivated to come our way because their parents have positive memories in dealing with our company. I know I'll really be dating myself now, but their grandparents almost 30 years ago also had positive memories.

Remember, always start by creating a great first impression. But, keep developing your skills to ensure that you have done all that you can for your customer, so that the client will have a wonderful experience and positive lasting impressions.