First Impressions

Most of my staff members have been with me for over 25 years. Working with our content day in and day out, they know it very well. When they go about their daily lives, they really notice the nuances of selling in their own personal purchasing situations. Some have recounted stories of salespeople who have literally cringed when they learn who my people work for. The salespeople will say things like: “Well, you already know what I’m going to do and say, don’t you?” (At least they use the tie-downs!) Or, “Are you grading me on my sales skills?” If you know any of my staff members, you’ll know they would be like me in these situations and just have fun with it. When their “sales experience” stories are related back to me, we often discuss how our training could help improve the sales process. In some situations, it might be awkward to make suggestions because the people they’re working with don’t seem to know they’re in sales.

Here’s an example regarding first impressions:

One of my staff members recently had a referral to a new doctor. In case you’re thinking this doesn’t apply to your field, keep reading. Eveyrone is in selling. Every person in the doctor’s office who comes in contact with a patient is selling that office. This applies to where you work as well. Every member of your team who interacts with clients in any way is selling.

The doctor’s assistant was professional, courteous and helpful on the phone when the “appointment” was made. Upon arrival, that same person greeted my staff member with a smile and took care of the paperwork promptly. So far. So good. Soon her name was called. The person who met her at the door to the examining room area smiled and said, “This way.” (Point #1: Introduce yourself! “Hi, I’m Janet, thank you for coming in.” This is very important, especially in fields where the ‘client’ may be having personal or health issues.)

She was then escorted to an examining room. This is where the ‘escort’ chose to introduce and identify herself with another smile and a handshake. (It turns out she was a resident.) The resident then asked good questions, “What brings you in today?” “What concerns you about that?” After a brief discussion, the resident explained that they would have to move to another room and escorted her there.

Next, an office staffer appeared. She did not introduce herself. She went directly to the computer in the room saying, “We had your information all set up in the other room. We can’t just move it. I have to re-enter it.” (Same as Point #1: always introduce yourself. This person could have been the doctor for all she knew.)

The resident returned, then covered what would happen next (introducing the agenda) and went to get the doctor.

Upon entry of the doctor (with the resident in tow), proper introductions were made. Questions asked, answers confirmed (all great sales strategies). Then, when the doctor was examining the hand of my staffer, she noticed that he had dirty fingernails. (Point #2: Cleanliness is always important. In medical fields, everyone who may have any type of physical contact with a client needs to wash their hands in front of them or put on gloves.)

The rest of the visit with the doctor went smoothly.

When my staffer exited the examining room, she saw no indication of which way to exit the area. (Point #3: Never leave a client in the dark about what happens next.)

Upon reaching the checkout desk, the doctor’s staff person was the epitome of unprofessionalism. First, there was no chair to allow patients to be comfortable while completing the transaction aspect of the visit. The check-out person was chewing gum, didn’t make eye contact or speak in full sentences: “Back next week?” “$20 co-pay.” “Your receipt.” She then took a call while juggling the paperwork. How the call was handled left a lasting impression. She literally leaned over her desk and yelled to another person in the general area, “(Name), are you expecting a call from John with (ABC)?” The reply was, “Oh, it’s just a sales call. I don’t want it.” The check-out person then went back to the call and lied…”She’s out of the building. Can you call back later?” (Points 4 – 10: Do whatever it takes to make the client comfortable. Do not chew gum in front of clients unless you are a gum salesperson. Always make eye contact. Speak in complete sentences and use the client’s name. Do not take other calls when you have a client in front of you. Thank the client for their business and let them know you look forward to seeing them again.  Be honest.)

If you were the patient how would you feel about visiting this doctor’s office again? Where is your confidence level in that practice?

This information is copyrighted by Tom Hopkins International, Inc. for reprint permission, contact Judy Slack (




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