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Friend or Foe The Importance of Creating Great First Impressions

: : Face to Face Sales : ( words)

We often refer to the brain as having two hemispheres: the left, largely responsible for logic, and the right, predominately responsible for creativity. This description fits what we know to be the cortex or new brain; however, there is a third dimension, the hypo-thalamus or pre-historic brain, which is in fact the brain stem and is solely responsible for instincts.

Bruno Catellani of the Institute of Communication, Management and Sales in Switzerland refers to the pre-historic brain as the ‘Guard’ or ‘Gatekeeper.’

The ‘Gatekeeper’s’ sole function is to decide whether you are a friend or a foe; it is incapable of thought or rationalization and reacts purely on instinct by how it perceives your approach.

If one’s initial approach stresses the ‘Gatekeeper,’ it will switch on the fight/flight response and part of this process includes shutting down all other message receptors which means any opportunity one had to communicate has just been totally closed off.

It’s absolutely true that one never gets a second chance to make a first impression.

Building the language of trust is the first step to successful customer service, which translates into building sales.

So, if the ‘Gatekeeper’ doesn’t think, does the initial ‘Language of Trust’ have to be verbal? No, the first impression one delivers is based on instinct alone.

The signals that an individual needs to give out in the first 10 to 20 seconds are instinctive, i.e. one’s body language translated by his/her movements, gestures, facial expression and eye contact are open and relaxed – voice modulation and tone are calm, the speed of one’s speech is controlled and gentle and finally, one must not invade the customer’s space.

Other factors, which will influence the ‘Gatekeepers’ decision as to whether an individual is a friend or foe, are, the person’s appearance, clothes, smell, enthusiasm and posture.

Once the individual is past this initial first impression, he/ she can get on with developing a relationship with his/ her prospect.

Professor Albert Mehrabian of UCLA broke communication down into three “V’s” as follows:

  • Verbal: The message itself; i.e. the words you use.
  • Vocal: The sound of your voice, intonation, projection, pitch and speed of your voice.
  • Visual: The posture and gestures, facial expression and eye movement that people see.

The Thomas Gordon Institute added another dimension to this research and came up with:

  • Words: Verbal
  • Voice: Vocal
  • Face: Visual
  • Body: Visual

Both institutions measured the effectiveness of each component of communication and it’s contribution to believability. Here are the results of their respective research:

UCLA Thomas Gordon
Verbal 7% Words 7%
Vocal 38% Voice 23%
Visual 55% Face 35%
Body 35%
TOTAL 100%100%

So, the first step in delivering Great Customer Service to Create Great Sales is: To approach and greet one’s suspect/prospect with open, friendly body language coupled with soothing, gentle voice modulation. The total focus in this step is to get past the ‘Gatekeeper’ so that one is able to develop and build rapport and open the prospect’s message receptors.

The words themselves are not that important, a simple “Hi, how are you today,” is a good ice breaker.

About ActionCOACH

Brad Sugars founded the brand Action International in 1993 when he realized there was a disconnect between business advice and implementation. The answer was Action! Brad Sugars created a business coaching company so that business owners throughout the world can realize their goals in business. Today the company is known as ActionCOACH. To learn more about business, visit Brad Sugars Review blog!

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