A first impression is INDEED a lasting impression, and you only get one chance to make one. I was reminded of this archived posting today and decided to refresh it. I had two interviews a while back that made very poor first impressions and I stopped right there. The first one was 15 minutes late, full of piercings including two fresh cheek dimple piercings that were still bandaged. The other looked like she just got out of bed and pulled on her hooded sweatshirt and and baggy pants to go apply for the job. When people show up for a job interview like this, you can bet your bottom dollar that it will get even get worse after getting the job. You get lucky when you can screen them at this point before exposing them to your customers. Those that get throught the interview will continue to make more “First Impressions.” Read On!
New salespeople show up on day one ready to succeed. Sometimes they even sell more than existing “old timers” are currently. What’s with that? How can a brand new person with very little product knowledge outsell a seasoned veteran that knows it all? It’s because the new person still thinks everyone is going to buy, that you have a great company, and that your way is the right way.
The Right Attitude!
That shiney new salesperson may not have the knowledge yet, but still has the enthusiasm it takes to make the right first impression on customers. That means more than knowledge alone. Answers to questions can be found, and sometimes just the honest admission that one doesn’t “know it all” can go a long way to making the sale.
“Water Cooler Training”
It’s important to shield new salespeople from influences that can be harmful to their success. Too many times we see people get hired and then turned over to the existing staff to “train” them. A past partner of mine had a rule; “Live with them the first week. Keep them by your side, have lunch with them, and even stand outside the restroom when they go in there.”
“Here’s how it really works.”
At the interview and in your initial meetings with new salespeople they hear how things are supposed to work. Then, when they get to work with your existing staff they find out how it’s “really done.” Unfortunately old timers pick up some bad habits along the way. They learn shortcuts that sometimes lead to short paychecks. They start accumulating excuses for missed sales. They gossip about company policies and decisions. Your shiney new salespeople can be influenced by these impressions, and before you know it the shine is gone.
You Cannot Train People!
Animals can be “trained” to do something, and once “trained” will always do it. One would assume that if you can train a dog to sit up, that you can train a human being to sell. I have a problem with the word “training.” Managers sometimes think that once a person has been “trained” that he or she will always behave in the way taught, and the learning stops. The reality is that “sales coaching” is an ongoing process whereas “training” is thought of as a one time event.
Hands on Coaching Works
“Coaching” is understood in athletics, it never stops. Top athletes continue to be coached on how to get better at their craft. I prefer the term “coaching” when teaching selling skills, and as with athletics, it must be an ongoing process. That’s just the way it is!