The Key to Making a Positive First Impression
How do you make a great first impression? You need to project warmth first and then competence and be perceived as having both writes Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy in her new book Presence. Most people erroneously believe that competence is more important than warmth. Let's face it, when a prospective customer walks into your showroom, they want to feel confident that you have the skill to design their dream bath or kitchen. However, Cuddy claims that warmth or trustworthiness is the most crucial factor in creating a positive first impression. If a prospect does not trust you, there is no chance you will win the contract regardless of how talented you might be.
Tips to Establish Trust and Rapport with New Clients
- When you first interact with a prospective client, make sure your brief introduction conveys your passion for design and making your customers' dreams come true. People who make the effort to visit your showroom come to be inspired. They are there because, despite all of their individual research, they really do not know what is possible or what they want.
- Become your client's biggest raving fan. If they trusted you enough to visit your showroom or agree to let you rip apart their home and inconvenience them for weeks or even months, make sure that you are their biggest advocate for improving the quality of their home and their lives. Even if they don't agree to all of your suggestions, make sure they know that you are there for them unconditionally.
- Don't ever judge a suggestion or idea as negative. Be as positive as possible at all times, especially when the unexpected occurs.
- Be empathetic and demonstrate that you understand and appreciate your client’s experience.
- Be humble. Let your clients know that you understand all of the challenges and potential pitfalls of a renovation.
- Always be present. Your clients will know if they don't have your undivided attention.
- Honor your commitments. It is essential to earning someone's trust to do what you say you are going to do when you commit to it and at the price you agreed to.
- Own problems. Every project brings the unexpected. Don't delegate problem-solving to manufacturers or representatives. Your client did not purchase their new bath fixtures from a manufacturer. They bought from you, and they will depend on you to make things right when the unexpected occurs.