Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Importance of the First Impression

As my company MicroCorp grows so does our need for business services. As many do, I turned to the internet for some information and found the two leading companies for the service I needed.  Company A is a company I am currently doing some business with for other services and Company B is a company I did business with several years ago and had a horrible experience.  So as you can guess, at this point Company A is the group that will most likely win the business.  But to do due diligence, I have to meet with at least two companies. 
I called both companies and set up appointments to meet with them on the following Tuesday. Company B was coming to our office at 10 am and Company A was coming at 2 pm.  Within two hours of my initial call, I had an introduction letter from the woman I was going to be meeting with from Company B. (I’ll call her Beth to keep this easy.)  The email thanked me for contacting her company, confirmed our meeting day and time, gave me all her contact information and had a link for more information about her company.  No contact from Company A.
On Monday I received a call and another email from Beth reconfirming our appointment and my address.  She also sent an agenda for our meeting and asked if there were any specific topics I would want to discuss so she could be prepared.  Once again, nothing from Company A, the company who in my mind was the company of choice. 
Tuesday came and a very punctual Beth arrived at my office.  She was very friendly and complimented me on something from our website.  Nice touch, she did some research on my company.  Once the pleasantries were out of the way I did mention I had worked with her company in the past and did not have a good experience.  She looked me directly in the eyes, apologized for past mistakes of her company, told me about several initiatives her company has made in the past few years and told me my business was important to her.  During our hour long meeting Beth let me do most of the talking.  She asked me good questions, reconfirmed important points and discussed my company’s pain points and how her company would be able to eliminate all of them.  She even had a few good suggestions about other areas of my business.   When she walked out the door much to my surprise I was sold on Company B. 
The moral of this story, the first impression really is important.  Company A had the business in my eyes but by the time they walked in the door at 2:05, yes they were late, the mountain was too high for them to climb.  Beth at Company B had made an excellent first impression.  Each touch moved her and her company from last to first: the intro email, confirming our appointment, researching my website, not dismissing my previous experience, having an agenda, active listening.  All these things showed me she wanted my business. 
The Telecom industry is very competitive.  As Agents not only do we compete with each other, but we also compete with the Carrier’s Direct Team, VAR’s and Fee-based Consultants.  How we separate ourselves is with the details.  A great first impression can be the game changer.  

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