Manatee County in South West Florida has an annual program called Project Teach.
The program objectives include: to illustrate the importance of first impressions, to explore the relationship between education and jobs, to provide a dialogue between students and adults in different careers.
They invite 140 volunteers to spend an hour with all the 4th graders in the county. As the class begins, each student is given a 3 X 5 card. They are asked to write the answers to the following questions.
How old do you think I am?
How many children do I have?
What kind of car do I drive?
What kind of pets do I have?
What kind of fast food do I like?
What kind of education do I have?
What kind of work do I do?
Here’s what I learned from the 4th graders.
First impressions are very influential. My appearance and actions influenced how old they thought I was. First impressions are extremely important if you’re a sales person.
In fact their first impressions of me, gave a class of 30 enough information to answer all 7 questions. Though not all students guessed correctly.
Here were some of their observations. No gray hair. Skinny. Spoke clearly. Dressed nice. Looked professional. Liked kids. No wrinkles. Tall. Hair brushed back. Good posture.
While some of their comments were flattering, especially when they were guessing my age, I was just plain surprised by their observations because they were only 4th graders.
Imagine then what a sales prospect or customer is thinking and observing about you during a sales call. Yikes!
One student said he thought I drove a Prius because his father did. Another student thought Burger King was my favorite fast food, because it was her favorite.
Half the class thought I was a teacher because I was talking to them in their classroom.
Several students did guess what kind of dog I have, what kind of car I drive, my favorite fast food, the kind of education I have, and to my complete surprise one student even guessed that I was a professional speaker.
All of this from a first impression. It reminded me once again that we are all walking billboards. We have to pay more attention to what we want our billboards to say about us.
Questions to ponder.
=> What kind of first impression do you create?
=> How can you change / improve your first impression?
=> What do you want your personal billboard to say about you?
I ended the program by giving them these 10 2-letter words.
“If it is to be, it is up to me!”
I also reminded the students that nothing in life is IMPOSSIBLE!
It’s amazing what you can learn even from 4th graders – when you take the blinders off.
Sales tip – remember, in sales little things mean everything!
Speaking of “Little Things” I recorded a CD not too long ago “75 Little Things You Can Do To Grow Your Business.”
If you need some ideas for your personal billboard, you’ll probably find a few here. http://tinyurl.com/75-little-things
Here’s one more sales tip for you to consider. Now more than ever you must focus on continuous improvement. You can avoid complacency by keeping your learning bucket filled with new ideas.
About the Author
Jim is a former U.S. army officer serving in Germany and was a Public Information Officer on a General’s Staff while serving in Vietnam. He was also Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the Scientific Products Division of Baxter International.
Jim Meisenheimer publishes the Sales Trailblazer Newsletter.
The focus is on common sense sales tips and selling strategies.
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