Remember the steps in the relationships from “Getting Buyer’s Attention”?  Now that we know who we want to attract and have gotten their attention, it is time for a great first impression.  First impressions come in many forms.


In today’s digital age, this is where most first impressions happen.  This is also the media where your potential buyers have the shortest attention span.  You can lose a potential customer in as little as 5 seconds!  Engaging them requires three key features:


Web SpeedIf your website is slow loading, you can lose the potential customer before they ever see your content.  There are a number of causes but the most common is having images that are too large.  There are several tools and applications that will help you reduce the size of your images.  I like to use the windows snipping tool or on a mac, you can use COMMAND+SHIFT+4Even that may require that you use an image editor or your web developer tool to reduce the size further.  If you would like an overall score of your website performance and suggestions for how to correct, I highly recommend a Google tool called “page speed insights” at


RoseWhen we’re talking about first impressions, how your site looks is the second thing they see behind the speed in which it loads.  Without beating the drum too many times, it is important that the appearance is attractive from the customer’s perspective, not necessarily yours.  Simplicity is key because of the short attention span I mentioned above.  I’ve seen so many web developers and entrepreneurs put all kinds of flashy transitions and create busy pages that look really great but lose the customer.  Keep it simple, elegant and pleasing to the eye.


ConfusedProviding information is not hard.  Making information consumable is what eludes most of us.  We get in such a hurry to push out all of this information about us and our products/services that we lose sight of how that information will be consumed.  I have been on websites that I couldn’t determine what they were selling.  Different people require different levels of detail.  You have those who just want the basics and those who want to get detail down to the gnat’s toenails.  From my perspective, there are two ways to make information consumable:  1) Use a pyramid approach or 2) Use standard conventions.

The pyramid approach is to initially present information in its basic form and let the consumer “drill down” as many layers as they desire to get additional detail.  So your main menu may have something like “product”, “people”, “process”.  Below each of these can be lists.  Clicking on an item in the list provides more detail.

Standard conventions for websites have a menu structure that includes home, products/services, about us, contact and some social media connections.  While this may be more than would be used in the pyramid approach, they are well understood by most that the navigation is intuitive.

While it is tempting to be flashy and impress people with web development skills or overwhelming amounts of information, people prefer SIMPLE and INTUITIVE.

Face to Face

Meeting a buyer face to face can happen in many ways: You going to them, they come into your store, they come to your booth at a trade show, or any number of other ways.  First impressions are about what you say, how you look and your environment.


How you look depends upon what you sell but the key is to avoid giving the impression that you don’t care by what you wear or how you groom yourself.


EnvironmentYour environment is your store or your trade show booth.  It should be inviting and simple so that they feel comfortable.  It should also be obvious that you have the solution to their problem.  I have an expression I’ve always used with my staff:  Make it “OTTCO” (Obvious To The Casual Observer).




Watch what you sayWhat you say can quickly pull them in or drive them away.  As discussed earlier, it is essential that you remove yourself from your perspective and be looking out their window.  After greetings, the conversation should never start with your solutions.  Let them drive the course of the conversation.  Some will want to do most of the talking, others will look to you to drive.  No two are alike so tailor every conversation to the individual.  Get to know them if that seems comfortable for them.  Lead into questions and paraphrasing their problem.  “So what you are frustrated with …”. As Stephen Covey says, “seek first to understand, then to be understood”.  Once you have a thorough understanding of their needs, then present possible solutions from their perspective, not yours.


Whether the call is a cold call or a potential customer calling you, the conversation should follow the description above under WHAT YOU SAY.  Because you are missing a significant part of the tools of communication (facial expressions, body language, etc.), it is important to convey your sincerity through your voice.

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Dan Gillingham is a retired executive, business owner and is currently volunteering as a small business counselor and mentor with SCORE

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