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Ugly Books Stay on the Shelf

Unfortunately, in life and in business, first impressions count. People may say we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but we also know that ugly books stay on the shelf. As we compete, we tend to be shallow and make snap judgements of others with very limited information.

However, in the world of sales and with a glass-half-full approach, I want to view this pattern as an opportunity. What this means is that if we create the wrong first impression, it’s all our fault; yet if we create the right first impression, this is all our fault, too. What I’m trying to say is that the way people see us is almost completely within our control.

The position you hold in your business and the size and credibility of your organization are all a mystery when you present yourself for the first time. You really can make your own luck by pitching yourself appropriately.

Your personal presentation is paramount. Your choice of outfit, fragrance, personal grooming and accessories all say something about you. Are you happy with the message you are sending?

There are a number of things that stand out for me and consistently signal success. The first is your car, then your suit, followed by your watch or jewelry and finally, your shoes. Now, I am not saying you must wear designer labels and drive flashy cars, but please keep your vehicle clean and tidy, make sure your clothes fit correctly and are clean and pressed, your watch is fitting to your environment and your shoes are clean and polished.

Your business gives off an impression, too. Whether it is your business card, your email signature, your telephone voicemail or your website, be certain that your prospects’ first encounter projects the right message. I work on the principle of presenting your business as the one you plan to grow into, not the one you are today.

The quality of your printed media gives viewers an idea of the care and attention you take with your business. Delivering a consistent message through all email communication demonstrates structure and control, and I would recommend that all email communication follows the same format with fonts, spacing and auto-signatures all being consistent. Your voicemail sets the tone and culture of your business, and your website should clearly explain how you help people and reinforce your vision.

In my experience, every business that has gone to these lengths to understand their personal and professional brand has developed to within spitting distance of that vision. The true question is this: what do you have to lose?

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