How Sales Reps Can Cultivate a Favorable First Impression Right Off the Bat

Whether you’re following up with warm leads or cold calling, first impressions make all the difference for sales reps.

October 31, 2016

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Whether you’re following up with warm leads or cold calling, first impressions make all the difference for sales reps. Those impressions can have a massive impact on whether or not you extend that initial conversation, whether or not you earn the next call, and how effectively you convert conversations into qualified opportunities and closed business.

Increasing the quantity and quality of first impressions isn’t terribly difficult if you’re disciplined and follow a set of customer-centric best practices.  Here are a few that have worked particularly well fifor us and our clients.

Customize your approach

Work from a common approach to engaging the prospect and qualifying on need, sure, but customize the initial approach and content therein to build rapport with the prospect quickly.

Do your research

I like the 3X3 method I learned first from Steve Richard at Vorsight – take up to three minutes to find up to three things you either have in common with the prospect or think is interesting about them.  Could be a connection to college football, a hometown, something in their bio you’re curious about, etc.  This gets them talking, gets their guard down, and communicates that you care about them (not just your pitch).


Whether in front of a mirror or with peers, get comfortable with the small talk and rapport-building that’s critical to first impressions.  The more prepared, comfortable and natural you sound, the more likely those first impressions will be positive.

Focus on your first few seconds

First impressions are about more than just the first interaction as a whole. Those first few seconds make an enormous difference.  What will you say in the first 6-8 seconds that gets your prospect to stop typing, to capture their attention, to earn the next few seconds, to differentiate yourself from everybody else trying to get a piece of their time?

Nail the voicemail

Yes I want you to leave voicemails, and yes that first voicemail may be precisely what your first impression is built from.  Be prepared, customize components, nail the first 6-8 seconds – every best practice above applies to getting the voicemail right as well.

Favorite and “like” some of their online/social content first

Before you even reach out via phone or email, find the prospect online and engage with their content.  In most cases they’ll see your name and/or company and appreciate the fact that you took the time to research them, read what they care about.  And when you call or email, this pre-engagement behavior makes your name that much more familiar and even “warm”, making it more likely they’ll engage with you right back.

What would they pay for?

What content or value can you bring to that first interaction that prospects would have paid to receive?  What insights can you share that help them think differently about something in their world?  These insights not only help you get the next call, but immediately differentiate your engagement from the countless others that are supplier-centric vs. customer-centric.