This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Way of the Wolf" by Jordan Belfort. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.
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How important are first impressions in sales? Can a good first impression really mean the difference between making or losing a sale?
Making good first impressions in sales comes down to the first four seconds. If you succeed in your first impression, the prospect will believe that it’s worth taking their own time to listen to you.
Read on for tips on making good first impressions in sales from Way of the Wolf.
Make Good First Impressions in Sales
First impressions in sales are critical. People decide in the first four seconds on the phone whether to trust someone—this happens even more quickly in person at a quarter of a second (although they continue their judgment and don’t reach a final one until about four seconds in). In those first four seconds, do three things:
- Be sharp. Sound and act like a person who can solve problems. For success that lasts, while you’re doing your best to sound like an expert, actually work towards becoming one.
- Be an expert. We’ve been conditioned since we were little to go to experts, like doctors, tutors, or coaches to help us solve our problems. So offer a perspective that conveys deep knowledge—use “industry speak” but simplify it for the client.
- Be enthusiastic. Believe in the product you’re selling. It’s better to sell something that you feel is truly valuable and you feel good about selling.
Studies say that when someone develops a negative first impression of you, it takes eight positive impressions to make the person’s overall impression of you positive. It’s exceedingly unlikely a salesperson will get eight more chances if they don’t make a good first impression.
If you succeed in your first impression, though, the prospect will believe that it’s worth taking their own time to listen to you. They’ll believe you’re a successful salesperson, all of whom share four qualities:
- Getting straight to the sale.
- Realizing the prospect’s time is valuable.
- Presenting a solution that the prospect needs quickly.
- Continuing to be helpful long-term.
Again, all of this happens within the first four seconds. Don’t run over your prospect by talking on and on—this won’t help you.
If you succeed in making a good first impression in the first four seconds, you must then find out as much as possible about the prospect. This includes:
- Their value system
- What they believe in
- Their needs
- Past experiences
- Financial situation
- Their pain points
At that point, you’ve established a rapport that can lead to the answers to these questions. The prospect will defer to you because they believe in your expertise.
Making good first impressions in sales will open the door to learning more about a prospect, developing a rapport, and eventually closing the sale.
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Here's what you'll find in our full Way of the Wolf summary :
- How to sell like Jordan Belfort, the Wolf of Wall Street
- The 4 steps of the Straight Line selling method
- The 3 types of certainty you have to create to make a successful sale