There’s an old story (call it an urban legend) of a man walking into a Mercedes dealership one afternoon. He’s dressed in old, torn blue jeans, a flannel shirt in dire need of retirement, and work boots. He’s definitely in need of a shave.
The man walks around the showroom, opens the door to a new S Class sedan, and climbs inside the car. In the meantime, three salesmen, each with arms crossed, are standing on the sideline watching the man. All eyes are fixed to see what the he will do next. But no one approaches the man.
The man exits the automobile and walks the rest of the showroom reading the stickers on various models. Periodically, he looks up at the small group of salesmen huddled at the back of the showroom. Still, no one approaches. The man exits the dealership.
As the story goes, the man crosses the street, walks into the Jaguar dealership, and drives out an hour later in a new Jaguar XK Coupe.
This works in the opposite direction, too.
A customer walks into a store and is approached by a salesperson. But there’s something about the salesperson the customer doesn’t like. He doesn’t know exactly what it is––perhaps the way the salesperson walks or talks, his accent, or that he looks like he needs a barber or a dentist.
The customer makes an instant judgment about the salesperson and the customer walks. What the customer doesn’t know is that particular salesperson could be the most knowledgeable and experienced salesperson in the store.
We each continually judge and form opinions. I suppose it’s a part of our human nature.
As business owners and salespeople, we judge prospects. “They won’t have the money. They’d never buy. They’re not asking informed questions. They’re asking too many questions.”
Let’s bottom-line this. While we can’t directly change how customers and prospects feel about us, we can change and improve the first impressions we make, as well as any and all lasting impressions.
We can become extremely conscious of our outward appearance corporately, professionally, and personally.
We can create a culture in which all staff members are taught to engage prospects in the best, most professional way possible. And we can remind ourselves to resist the urge to judge based only on outward appearances.
Above all, we can train staff members and team members from the C-suite to the loading dock to be responsive, and friendly, and to listen with sincerity.