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First Impressions Count


Peter Landau argues that a little thought and research into how we present ourselves can make all the difference.

How many of your people go to a first appointment without a passing thought of what to wear, other than work clothes or “meeting clothes”? How many of your people go to a first appointment with the only thought that they should “look smart”? And how many of your people go to a first appointment unaware that how they look and are received could change their fortunes and those of your company?

The answer to all three questions is, almost certainly none! If that's the case the questions you must ask yourself are; how much business are we losing, how much damage is being done to the company image and how much damage to the brand, and, are our competitors better in this department than we are?

First meetings are so important. We trot out the maxim that we “never get a second chance to make a first impression” but it is so true. In all too many cases we do our research on the company and know what they do and how they do it. Which markets they are in and how they operate. We prepare fancy presentations, put together smart handouts and learn our words. But do we put in the same amount of work into how we look personally?

The answer to that one is also probable no, more often than not.

Organisations that have adopted training in the science of what to wear will testify to the power of putting effort into this arena. Learning methods of preparation in how to physically present oneself have always produced significant returns and in the area of sales, particularly, much higher conversion rate percentages have been achieved.

In the work I have done when researching and developing Intelligent Dressingª, I discovered that the more research that was put into not only the organisation one was meeting but also the person/people one was meeting the greater the the level of success in achieving the goals that one had set. This was the foundation of the PRIDE learning process.

The P is for purpose. What is the purpose of the appointment? Few people decide in advance.

The R is for research. The most important part of the system. You can never have too much information or research. You must above all else research the person or people you are meeting. It is what is gleaned through this activity that will determine what you wear and how you look.

During the training people are taught how to research other individuals through non-conventional methods. There is always a lot of information about people that is easily available. The secret is to learn more about them and to go to their world. So when you meet with them they identify with you and believe you are on their side and supporting their cause. By doing this, what you are trying to achieve becomes so much easier.

In a recent session one attendee was due to go to a first visit the following day. During the break I told him to go and see if he could find out more about the person he was seeing. Based on what he had learned that morning he came back with really useful information about the individual he would never otherwise have got. We discussed how he should best use it. Two days later he called me to say that the meeting had gone like a dream and that he had never had an easier sale.

The I is for intention. If you know why you're going and you have a goal and you now have information about who you are seeing you need to know what your intentions are and what you are going to do to use that information effectively. This part is important and requires thought. It is not something you do in an instant.

The doing
D is for delivery or do it. Once you have your plan it is important to believe. Believe what you are doing is right. Don't have second thoughts; trust the work you have done in advance. When delivering you must be relaxed and fell at ease and confident in what you are doing.

And the E is for evaluation. Easy to gloss over and do in a hurry but so valuable if it is done properly. You learn more in evaluating what you have done than you do in delivery. Taking the time to do a proper post mortem is worth a lot. Finding out what went right and what went wrong is one thing but using the good parts again and improving them is what it's all about. In the great saying of Gary Player”“It's funny, the more I practice the luckier I get.” So true and that is what evaluation should be about.

The benefits derived from training such as this is that firstly staff actually think about how they look and present themselves. Secondly, it instils a sense of pride into the workforce as to how they and their colleagues look and feel and is a benefit to he whole organisation. Thirdly it gives everyone a better chance of achieving their goals and those of the business and finally everyone will feel better about themselves at work and at home and they will feel better about the organisation they work for.

So, to sum up, train your staff in how to present themselves and watch the improvement in your business performance.

About the author: Peter Landau is the founder of Intelligent Dressingª. He started his first business in the late '60s Peter and has successfully built and sold businesses ever since. In recent years he has advised over 200 companies in the areas of business planning, strategy and business growth. He is a trusted advisor to many company owners and has frequently spoken on enterprise and entrepreneurship and has appeared on many occasions on radio, television and in the print media. He is a conference speaker and executive chairman of The London Business Support Service The term Intelligent Dressingª is © Peter Landau of and is used with permission.


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