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Category: Sales · 4 min read

How to Make Your First Impressions Impressive

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on September 19, 2019

author profile photo

on September 19, 2019

Clients shaking financial professional's hand

The first few moments you have with a prospect may be the most important. In those beginning seconds, your prospect is subconsciously (or consciously) evaluating you. They’re making quick judgments and observations about you, your office, the meeting room, your chairs, your hair, your face, your clothes, and so on.  

It’s the first impression, and it can be critical to whether that prospect becomes one of your clients or not.  

We make first impressions, whether we realize it or not. About 15 years ago, author Malcolm Gladwell wrote the book “Blink.” In it, he makes the case for what he calls “thin-slicing,” the snap judgments our brain makes unconsciously within the first two seconds in any situation. We can call it a gut-feeling, a hunch, or a first impression, but Gladwell reveals that these initial moments are surprisingly accurate. Our brains are super-computers, and can process things faster than we realize.  

Your prospects form a base opinion of you based on how you look, how you talk, your facial expression, and how you act. So, to make sure your first impression goes well, make sure you take these factors into account.  

Your prospects form a base opinion of you based on how you look, how you talk, your facial expression, and how you act.

How You Look 

Before you open your mouth, before you shake their hand, the first thing a prospect notices is how you look. It’s what you’re wearing, your hair, your skin color, and your facial expression. They make an instant judgment and start to form an opinion of you, simply on your appearance. So, make it a good one.  

What does that mean? It means dressing for success. Look professional, always. You don’t always have to be in a suit, but you should make sure that you’re well-groomed and well-kept.  

Then there’s your face. You can’t change the face you have, but you can change your expression. So, smile! Be cheerful, warm, and welcoming, and others will be able to sense it. People can also sense your smile through the phone, even though they can’t see you. Your first impression has a lot to do with your facial expressions, so express wisely.  

They make an instant judgment and start to form an opinion of you, simply on your appearance. So, make it a good one.  

How You Talk 

But it goes beyond how you look. What you say and how you say it is quite possibly the most important factor in a first impression. Even if you look good, saying the wrong thing or accidentally saying things in a negative way can create an instant gap between you and your prospects. The prospect will be able to tell if you aren’t passionate or don’t believe in what you’re saying. So, choose your words carefully, and be conscious of how you’re saying your words. Don’t focus on the negative. Instead, turn things into positives, and stay cheerful and energetic. 

It can help to keep things focused on the prospect. Get to know them by asking specific questions about their life. Try to find something in common, and don’t be afraid to joke a little bit. Showing that you’re human, you care about them, and you’re not a financial professional robot that only talks about financial professional things can help you seem relatable. 


How You Act 

You can look professional and talk a good game, but your actions speak louder than anything else. It may sound creepy, but your prospects watch your every move. Your hand motions, your attitude, the way you treat them; it all matters. So, be kind, and act wisely.  

This includes your follow-ups, too. How you act in your emails and phone calls can also impact your prospects’ perception of you. If you follow up quickly, reach out often, and offer clear next steps, your actions can show that you’re on top of things and you follow through. 

What you do, say, and wear can have a larger impact than you think. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. As you meet with prospects, keep in mind what forms their first impression, so you can make those critical first seconds count.  


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Written By

Mark Williams

President and CEO

Mark Williams is the President/CEO of Brokers International. Over his more than 25 years of financial services experience, Mark has been both a producing independent agent in the field and a home office leader consulting to agencies and field marketing organizations. Currently, Mark is focused on the future of the insurance industry, from the disruptions of InsurTech and robo-advisors to the changing demographics and needs of customers. He also is an avid mentor, helping financial professionals navigate the industry.

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