First Impressions In Business Relationships
Following the methods of the 8 Relationship Realms, you have hundreds, maybe thousands of opportunity for first impressions in business relationships. As an executive it sets the precedence for how employees respect you, or customers take you seriously.
Not all these first impressions are set by you personally. In fact, each interaction your employees have with customers, business partners, or the general community around them constitutes a first impression on your company's good name.
Managing first impressions:
(Special note: An interaction can include face-to-face, a written communication, a visit to your website, event attendance, or any other means exchanging information with a customer, employee, or strategic partner.)
- Plan to make the interaction a positive experience for those involved. Make sure you do your homework and that everyone on your team is ready for meetings, sales calls, and other company engaged interactions. A properly trained staff is a secret weapon of great first impressions, arm your weapon with a payload that will get the job done right.
- Be prepared for the interaction with necessary facts. Not only should you know what to do, but you should understand what a customer wants to provide only those facts relevant to them. If you are truly knowledgeable of your industry, you'll also know where to find the information you don't have available to you. If you overwhelm them at the first impression, they will assume you are difficult to work with.
- Seek feedback from existing relationships to improve methods. "It was probably awkward the first time we met, was there anything I could have done to improve the experience." Your existing customers will share their opinion and you can learn from it. Be warned if they don't remember the first time your company was introduced, it means your first impression wasn't positive enough.
- Make it easy to approach you or ask questions. Often executives "sit in the ivory tower of business, away from all the workers." The truth is, many executives want to be approached with profitable suggestions, customer feedback, and other forward thinking measures. Set some time in your schedule to wander around being available to your staff and customers.
- Invite the other persons objective for the interaction to be your own. While you might want a customer to buy your products, the customer may want to solve a specific problem facing their business. Until you make solving their problem an objective of your interaction, they won't even consider what you have to offer. Work from the customers wants and desires.
- Promote open communications even if it isn't something you want to hear. It is better to hear bad news from the customer, than about the customers interaction with you (in popular media.) Attentively hear out customers, employees, or strategic partners who have problems with your organization. You don't have to say anything or even agree, just make sure you understand what they are saying.
- Focus on the wants of the other party with a single objective. Often a first contact with your company will be distracted by a hundred questions, unfamiliarity, and other stumbling blocks that interrupt communications. Look for common themes and address each objective in logical order. Get right to those points considered most important to the other party.
- Give choices within bounds set by the interaction objective. All customers and employees want choices, but give them too many and they won't choose anything. Select two key actions to be taken next, offer them, and work from a base of decisions structured around achieving the objectives of the interaction.
/ interaction-points | relationship-realms /
By Justin Hitt at July 25, 2003 4:08 PM
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