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First Impressions Count!

by David Brock on February 19th, 2019

One of the biggest issues we hear from everyone involved in sales and marketing is capturing the customer attention. Whether it’s that first communication, an email, text, or social engagement, that first phone conversation, or that first meeting.

Getting that first contact or engagement is something nearly everyone struggles with.

Given the difficulty we have with these first contacts, one would expect we would be driven to create the very best first impression we possibly could. After all, if we don’t, it’s highly unlikely that we will have the opportunity for subsequent meetings or building relationships with customers.

We know first impressions count!

But if these first impressions are so important, why do so many, do such a terrible job at creating memorable and distinctive first impressions?

Some things to think about:

  1. If you want to make a great first impression, why would you get my name wrong, or my company’s name wrong, or have an introductory email filled with spelling errors and bad grammar?
  2. Why would we conduct any call without minimal research on the person we are calling and their organization? Fewer than 1% of the calls I receive show the person has looked at either my LinkedIn profile, my blog site, or our company website in the prior 48 hours. 95% of the call appear never to have done so.
  3. Why wouldn’t we tailor our first impression to something that is likely to be relevant to the person we are calling? For example, referring to a blog post they may have read, making an observation on that is an easy way to capture my attention. Fewer than 5% of the people contacting me do this. 99% of the people never talk about something that might be of interest to the CEO of a boutique consulting company, perhaps most of those people don’t even know I am the CEO of such a company, or what a boutique consulting company does.
  4. Why would we use references like Google, Microsoft, IBM, GE and other giants to establish credibility for your offerings with me? As much as I admire those organizations, and I respect those that do business with those organizations, they are meaningless and irrelevant to my business. Their strategies, challenges and goals are very different from ours.
  5. Why would your first outreach, by whatever channel, focus on what you sell, rather than the challenges my organization is likely to face? I’m never interested in buying unless it does something to help address specific issues in our organization. Either you know what companies like mine face and can say something that might be relevant based on their experience, or you have a good guess about what I face. Instead, you present solutions to problems I don’t have or don’t know I have.
  6. If you want to engage me in a discussion about my business, why don’t you have someone who can carry on a two way conversation about the issues I’m likely to have. I don’t expect a sales person to be as deep into the issues as I might be, but I expect the sales person to have enough capability to carry on some level of discussion. For example, if you think you can improve my ability to grow, you should be able to have a conversation about the problems I am likely to have in growing.
  7. Managers, if you want to establish a good first impression with C level executives, why do you have your most inexperienced sales people, your SDRs, as the first point of contact? Why don’t you have your most experienced sales people as the first point of contact? They will be more likely to have a credible conversation with a C level executive than someone who is new to business and selling. You are setting them, consequently your company, up for failure.

First impressions are perhaps the most important to us. Without the very best first impression, we have no shot and making another impression or engaging our customers.

Are you making a great first impression?

Are you setting your people up to make great first impressions?

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3 Comments
  1. Joel Lyles permalink

    | Managers, if you want to establish a good first impression with C level
    | executives, why do you have your most inexperienced sales people,
    | your SDRs, as the first point of contact?

    Hi Dave!

    I remember you mentioning this in another blog post about B2B SDRs. Do you ever wonder if this role is inverted? That is, rather than being an entry-level position that’s just viewed as sales gravy, it should instead be reserved for the most senior and proven ISRs?

    There’s a senior top-performing ISR at my company who rarely does inbound leads or takes passes; her reasoning is that she won’t find the deals she wants just waiting for them to arrive. Compared to other reps, she spends much more of her time prospecting and she usually gets what she’s looking for. Average deal sizes significantly bigger than ISRs who rely more on inbound/referrals/upsells with smaller average deal values.

    If she was an SDR and instead passed these deals to other ISRs, I could easily see our organization becoming much more profitable as a whole. But the company (understandably) doesn’t want to put such a high-performing rep in what’s seen as a junior role. And I doubt she’d want to go in such a role either.

    What’s a company to do?

    • Joel: In fact we have worked with a number of clients inverting this concept–putting their very best people in the role. The productivity from this simple change–at least in finding and qualifying opportunities–is a minimum of 5-10 times higher than that of their previous SDRs. One wonders why more organizations don’t look at this. Regards, Dave

      • Joel Lyles permalink

        If I was going to take a guess, it’s because most organizations see the SDR role as to pitch products, qualify them on the spot, and to quickly move on from uninterested parties. If you’re doing that, then you don’t need your most senior people on the job.

        If you see the role of the SDR as to engage with customers on a deeper level, bring insight to unaware parties (not knowledge of products, no one cares about that, but relevant information about their personal business situation), and get them on the buying journey, then the role does need to be rethought.

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