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What Impressions Are You Creating?

by David Brock on October 1st, 2012
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My friend Bob Thompson of CustomerThink posed an interesting question the other day.  Bob’s really an authority on customer experience and tends to take a broader view of customer experience than most–and I think he is right.

We talk a lot about the buying experience and the customer experience, as though those are the most critical things to consider and measure as we look at the overall topic of customer experience.  As intense and focused as they may be, I think we miss a huge amount by just discussing these.

While not elegant, we need to be thinking about the impressions both our organizations and we as sales and marketing professionals create.  Leading organizations are concerned about the impressions created and their reputations in the community at large.  They don’t focus just on creating great customer experience, but they worry about the impressions they create with everyone.  They know these impressions are critical–what do the communities in which they operate think of them?  What do their shareholders think about them?  What do their suppliers think of them?  What do their employees think of them?

Leading companies worry about the impressions created.  They don’t restrict it to the buying or customer experiences.  They know their broader reputations influence their ability to attract customers, good suppliers, investors, great employees, and to be welcome in their communities.

But what about the impressions we as individuals create?  People are always evaluating us.  Our customers look at everything we say and do.  Do we meet our commitments?  Are we interested in helping them–genuinely?  Do we care about them?  Do we create value in every exchange?  Are we trust-worthy?

Our peers and managers do the same thing?  Are we team players?  Do we help others?  Do we contribute to the organization?  Are we interested in the success of others and the organization, or are we just out for ourselves?  Do we meet our commitments?  Are we trust-worthy?

The only time we escape creating impressions is when we are alone in a dark room, disconnected from everything.  All other times, we are creating impressions.  Those impressions shape how people interact with us, our ability to engage them and our ability to achieve our goals. 

I’m constantly amazed by people that think they can “turn it on or off.”  In front of customers, they display certain behaviors, but once they are away from the customer they change completely.  In the office they are very professional, but get outside the office and they behave completely differently.  Not long ago, I was in some meetings with some sales people.  In the office, they had a very professional demeanor, but later at dinner, it was a Jekyll – Hyde type change.  They were incredibly negative, complained, and whined about people in the office, strategies, their jobs.  It changed my impressions of them–and not for the better.

The impressions we create shape how we are perceived and our reputations.  There is no “on” or “off,”  unless we are alone in a dark room, we are always creating impressions. 

What impressions are you creating?  Are they building your reputation or are they hurting you?  You control the impressions you create, make sure you are creating those you want.



Interested in our Sales Management Operating System–a framework to look at the entire sales function and how the different pieces, parts fit together? Ask for our free interactive MindMap by emailing dabrock@excellenc.com with your full name, company and company email.

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4 Comments
  1. Good post David, I read a book a long time ago that called these “touch points” the author argued that companies need to pay attention to every touch point.

    I completely agree, we can’t escape it, so we need to be deliberate in what we want our impressions to be, there is no room for default impressions.

    • Thanks Jim. I’m also seeing a mentality of people thinking you can be “on” or “off.” In front of the customer, in a call, they behave one way, but outside that meeting, for example waiting in the lobby, they behave in completely different fashion. All have impact on our reputations. In essence, unless we are alone in a dark room, we are always on, we are always creating impressions.

  2. David,
    I suspect those who don’t worry about the impression a company is making in the community at large beyond just its customers, their overall brand, if you will, are failing to take into account how this impression may impact future sales. What will people who know only your reputation from a far think when it’s time to decide whether or not to do business with you, and what may they say to partners and associates looking for a similar product or service? What impression are you making on people who have no experience doing business with you at all?

    • Fantastic Heather! We don’t pay attention to the broad impressions we create with people who currently aren’t doing business with us but might. As an example, the other evening I was in a restaurant and there was a group of sales people from a software company. The way they were talking about their customers, how they were manipulating them, etc. made me certain that I never wanted to do business with that company (since they represented that company). The odd thing is we are a prospect for their software and have a need in the coming year for a major implementation.

      They’ve lost an opportunity before they even realized they might have had one!

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