Johannesburg - Like it or not, as a sales professional your first impression with a customer can make or break your ability to make a sale, or even just start a relationship with a prospect.

Dale Carnegie, the founder of the global training company by the same name, said, “There are four ways, and only four ways, in which we have contact with the world. We are evaluated and classified by these four contacts: what we do, how we look, what we say, and how we say it.”

By understanding these factors, being mindful of their impact, and following some basic sales tips for making a good impression, you can better present an image that will close a sale.

1. Professional competence: Having an image of yourself that is professional and appropriate to your line of work is critical. This does not just mean showing up to an appointment on time and well dressed. Before anyone meets you they are going to search for you on the internet and on social media. Make sure the search results and your social media profiles support your professional competence and do not give conflicting messages.

2. How we relate to people: The best sales professionals have empathy. They understand client needs and know how to match their solutions in the best way possible. You need to have expert listening skills and an ability to look at things from the client’s point of view. If you can proceed with those two things in mind, you will be able to increase your ability to close sales.

3. Our attitude and self-control: When someone is genuine and positive they are generally likeable. People want to be around positive, genuine, and enthusiastic people. Your ability as a sales professional to understand how your attitude can impact your interactions can help you develop better relationships.

4. How we communicate: Your ability to effectively communicate your value clearly and concisely will be the difference between success and failure. In sales, you have only a small window of opportunity to make a good impression. If you can’t effectively communicate your message it will be difficult to begin to develop strong customer relationships.

In today’s fast-paced business environment that window is small and ever closing.

5. Professional appearance in the workplace: As a sales professional, you need to have an appearance that is acceptable in your place of work. Studies have proven that people are willing to buy in and trust an individual that is well dressed. You need to make sure that you are not only dressing appropriately, but dressing well at the same time.

Building an image for success also needs to be authentic to you. Make sure that no matter what you do to improve your sales image that you be yourself. No matter what you wear or what your attitude is, if you fake it too much people will ultimately see through it. Remember, you have very little time to make a good first impression in sales.

Make sure that you make the most of it and start the relationship selling process by building strong customer relationships with your potential clients.

* You can download a copy of the Dale Carnegie sales guidebook. Phone 086 116 7284 or email for more information.