Sales Basics for Beginners: The Science of First Impressions

By Mary Beth Berry

How long does it take to make a first impression? Seven seconds? Ten?

Princeton University psychologist Alex Todorov conducted a study discovering that people make their first judgment of others within 100 milliseconds. That’s roughly the time it takes to blink… Once!

According to the study, in that timeframe, we humans are making judgments on three significant factors – whether or not someone is trustworthy, competent, and likable.

Needless to say, that first glance is powerful!

Think back on your own experiences.  When was the last time you met someone who had the potential to be important in your life– the “boss” at your last interview, the instructor of your last training session, or the teacher for your child’s class?  How about seeing a potential love interest’s picture on their social media or online dating profile?

Chances are, if you are honest, you will realize you started judging that person immediately. And you started deciding if you were going to like them and want to connect with them almost instantly.

How common is it to hear, “It was love at first sight.”? Or, even the opposite, “I didn’t trust that guy from the moment I saw him.”?  The reason it’s not weird to hear EITHER of those phrases is because it is a common part of the human experience to start forming those types of extreme judgments the moment we set eyes on someone new.

So, what does that mean for us as sales professionals?

In a profession where our ability to be likable and trustworthy is paramount to our success, we need to be aware of the vibe we are giving to our customers at all times- even, and especially, from the very first millisecond!

Todorov’s study luckily guides us on where to start: our face.

Eye contact and a smile right from the first moment of meeting someone inspire confidence that we are likable, trustworthy… and even intelligent.

Who knew your smile was so powerful?  And who knew it was so easy to convey how amazing you are so quickly?

Sales pros, don’t underestimate the power of your first impression. When your next customer walks through your door, pop up out of your chair, make eye contact, and give them a friendly, genuine smile. Let the magic of connection unfold from the very first blink of an eye.

You only get one shot at a first impression!

And if you make the right impression, you may just get a chance to change someone’s world by selling them the right home.

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About the Author: Mary Beth Berry

As an accomplished leader with over a decade's experience at the country's top volume producing builders, Mary Beth Berry is passionate about helping sales professionals achieve excellence using lively and engaging training strategies. When she isn’t working, Mary Beth enjoys traveling, trying new restaurants with her husband of ten years, and playing outside with her two adorable little boys.