Author: David Slatter

We hear it all the time – you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Sure, that makes a lot of sense. But what about the second impression? Have you considered if the second meeting you have with a prospect goes as well as the first? Even more important – what about the second impression on your new client?

It’s easy, or at least tolerable, to put on our game face, look nice and present our best foot forward for one interaction. The trick is to show up with that level of professionalism every time. Too often we believe that once the conversation moves beyond the first meeting, we can worry less about the prospect or client’s perception. Not true.

Have you ever had a series of meetings with a prospect that you just knew were going well? You knew that deal was “in the bag.” Then suddenly – and what seems without warning – the prospect decides to go a different direction. Or simply just stops returning your calls. What went wrong?

Or perhaps this scenario is familiar – you landed a great deal and everyone is excited about the work. As you start to deliver your product or service, however, you notice a shift in the client’s attitude. They are simply not as pleased as you thought they would be. Perhaps they even start to give the work to a competitor, and eventually phase you out. Or worse – they stop doing business with you at all.

Setting expectations starts with the very first meeting. Your second, and third, and fourth impression is just as important as the first. Plus, you must ensure that your company delivers on all promises and expectations. These are expectations from the client’s perspective – not yours.

Challenge the Norm: How do you ensure that every interaction goes smoothly, even if you are not seeing to it personally? It starts with authenticity – choosing to be your true self, setting values within the company, and then ensuring those values are upheld by every person. Hiring people who are in alignment with the values you determine as most important is key. Otherwise, you will find it difficult to maintain positive impressions with your clients.

Without authenticity, your clients will begin to feel you don’t care, or worse, that you only care about their money. Being authentic not only provides a solid basis for excellent client engagements – it is also the foundation for ensuring solid teamwork. Teams must work together and stay focused on the client, or you risk having your client engagement go south.
Once the values are set and effectively communicated, the rest is a bit easier because you have done the foundation work to build solid teams. However, teams don’t just work because everyone is genuine. There are other aspects to consider:

Collaborate effectively – collaboration internally as well as with your clients – ensures better communication. Collaboration is another word we hear thrown about without really thinking about creating results. However, good collaboration solves real problems and elevates you with the client.

Create accountability – develop processes and communication flow to ensure that every team member who encounters a client in any way is accountable to the core values of your organization. This is not just a policy, or write-up over something done incorrectly. It is creating a culture around the clients’ needs so that every decision comes from a place of genuine concern for your clients and prospects.

Devise engagement processes – while I realize we discuss engagement processes regularly, it is because they are so critical. The secret to converting clients to partners is to engage with your client in a positive manner that keeps him or her as your focus. And partners are always better for the health of your company.

The continual impression a client maintains about you and your company will stem from how your teams interact. If you have teams that work independently without authenticity, your client engagements will suffer. If you have teams working together with the client in mind, your client will maintain a positive impression. Remember, it’s always more than just that first impression that matters. It’s the impression you leave every time you interact with a prospect or client.

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