And for My Next Impression...
In his brilliant book, Blink, author Malcolm Gladwell makes a point about “thin-slicing.” That is, the first impression we get about someone and how we make instant judgments, whether we know it or not.
In sales, there is a starting point that signifies the beginning of the process that will hopefully end in an order (and prompt payment of our invoices, if I take this fantasy the whole way!). What’s yours? Do you simply pick up the phone and call? Do you send a letter first? Or perhaps you simply stop by and bang on the door. That’s how we did it in the old days.
Personally, I am a fan of the introductory letter: a well-scripted message on letterhead, signed in blue ink (did you even know there was a right way to sign a letter?), folded properly and put inside a #10 envelope which has been either typewritten or word processed so that it looks like the personalized letter that it is. Oh, and I prefer a stamp over a meter, but that’s just me.
My reasoning is simple: No one sends out letters anymore so yours will stand out. A phone call as your first step is OK, but not enough to stand out from the crowd. Stopping by? That’s for reps who enjoy pulling on locked doors. And emailing? Come on, that’s just SPAM with a “Dear Bill” introduction. What a HORRIBLE first impression. It'll NEVER work!
Or so I thought.
Yesterday I received an email from a Cisco sales rep by the name of Matt Hazlett that changed my mind. It came in at 12:43 p.m., was brief and to the point. He wanted to “share some creative ideas about how you can reduce expenses and increase productivity throughout your organization” and asked me to “Please reply with the best time to reach you.”