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December 21, 2017

First Impressions Still Count in a Digital World

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Photo Credit: Victor1558 via flickr

In traditional sales approaches, it’s often said you need to sell yourself first.  Think of great salespeople you know.  One thing they have in common is they’re good at selling themselves.  They know in any big, value-based sale too complex for a decision with a click, customers are going to need trusted advice.  And that trusted advice comes from another person, not from company websites or online reviews.

Traditional sales approaches, however, can seem a little out-of-date in electronic exchanges.  Maybe it doesn’t matter if you aren’t fully dressed to the expectations of the buyer if you only appear in a headshot on the screen.  Sure, your voice quality and tone are important if you’re talking on the phone, but does it matter if you don’t have a firm handshake?

There’s a tendency these days to discount the importance of the first impression because in business transactions we’re not face-to-face as often.  Yet because we’re human, first impressions still have an enormous impact.  You don’t get second chances; and we humans cling to them.  We make decisions based on first impressions, so they still count in a digital world.

Have you ever thought about enhancing the first impressions you make on potential clients through digital means?  Why not add social media leverage to proven traditional sales approaches?  In my opinion, social media isn’t a barrier to closer business relations as some would think.  It’s a tool you can use to enhance first impressions and quickly build strong and effective business relationships.

There are a number of social media sites available for salespeople to consider, but I believe if you only choose one it should be LinkedIn.  I often give keynote presentations to CEOs and business leaders who want to grow their businesses.  I talk about the power of LinkedIn and often get blank stares at first.  I then tell them how my colleagues and I use LinkedIn to find prospects and turn them into qualified leads and they start taking notes.

That’s all well and good, but there’s something vital in any suggested LinkedIn process checklist that often gets missed: The importance of the “digital you.”  When you go tapping into someone else’s LinkedIn account, they’re looking back.  Pretend you’re a business prospect looking for someone like you.  What do you see?  When was the last time you groomed your account?  Now is a great time to do it and here are some tips:

  • Fully complete your profile, starting with a professional headshot that matches your business image.  No pictures of you holding a fish!  (Unless your business is about fish).
  • Use keywords as your headline, including long tail keywords.  For example, if you have an IT capability or other expertise, list it below your name so you’ll come up in searches.  Don’t list your business title unless you want someone to find you with your business title.
  • Write your profile as if you were speaking to a prospective client. The reason that you need a complete profile is users can search within the LinkedIn database just like we can all search on Google.
  • Add links to video shares, slideshows, etc. wherever you can.  Give life to your profile.
  • Fill out your contact and personal information so people searching for you can contact you besides sending you an InMail.
  • Write and post some articles in your field of expertise.  Comment on other articles.  Show what you’re interested in and that you know what you’re talking about.
  • Describe your current job and two previous ones.
  • Include your company’s website everywhere you can.
  • Complete the education, skills, accomplishments and interest sections.  You’ll be surprised what you may have in common with prospective customers.

If you just do these few things, you’ll make a more positive first impression and attract more interest.  It’s all about building a better “digital you.”


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John Asher, author of Close Deals Faster, is the CEO of Asher Strategies, a high-level growth strategy consulting firm focused on improving sales for business-to-business companies. Asher is the No. 1 rated speaker on sales for Vistage, a worldwide network of CEOs. Over the last two decades, he has mentored a large cadre of speakers and trainers that has fueled the growth of Asher.

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