They say you only get one chance to make a first impression. And in the world of virtual sales prospecting, the punishment for failing to make a good first impression could just end up eliminating your ability to communicate with the person you're trying to connect with forever. So, let's talk about how to make sure that doesn't happen to you — ever.
Why Are First Impressions So Valuable?
First impressions are so valuable because they are often made within the first few seconds of initial exposure to you, well before you can take action to correct mistaken beliefs. For instance, Princeton Researchers found that people determine your trustworthiness in less than a tenth of a second.
Further, there are volumes of research showing first impressions influence subsequent beliefs. For instance, first impression bias can influence decision-makers to place more weight on information first received than information received later. And there are the long-term implications of first impression bias such as the halo effect, which plays out when a positive first impression about one trait, such as good looks, leads people to infer the existence of other traits, such as intelligence.
And finally, as one angel investor recently wrote: "Yes, in the end, what matters is what’s inside, but first, you have to get past swipe left."
The Problem With Making a Bad First Impression
First impressions are so powerful that scientific studies have shown they can override contradictory, truthful facts we are told about people. A 2014 Society for Personality and Social Psychology study found that even when told whether a person was gay or straight, study participants generally identified the person's sexual orientation based on how they looked -- even if it contradicted the facts presented to them.
And first impressions have been shown to last for months (Gunaydin, Selcuk, & Zayas, 2017) and affect personal judgments even in the presence of contradictory evidence about the individual (e.g., Rydell & McConnell, 2006).
So, while we're all warned not to judge a book by its cover, it seems more often than not, we make that very mistake. And worse, we continue to believe in our initial review, even after reading the book!
The Unique Challenges of Making a Good Virtual Impression
"If you want to make a good impression, it is critical that it is done in person," says Jeremy Biesanz of the University of British Columbia. That was the bottom line of his research that looked at the difference in how we form impressions in person versus online, by video, or by just exposure through platforms like social media.
In three studies, Biesanz and colleagues compared the accuracy and bias of impressions formed under different circumstances. In all of his studies, people could accurately attribute certain personality traits -- for example, extroverted, arrogant, sociable -- to others both in person or by video, BUT the magnitude of the positive attributes was lower and of negative attributes was higher via video. The same was true of in-person vs social media, such as exposure to a person's Facebook Profile.
Why is this? Unfortunately, his research doesn't answer that question. While I'm not a professional researcher, I have been actively utilizing virtual selling for over a decade and in that time, I've discovered FIVE key challenges that I believe make creating virtual first impressions terribly more difficult than those in-person first impressions.
How To Make a Great Social Media First Impression
Again, I'm no scientist and I haven't tested these recommendations on 1,000 random study participants, but I've been actively using and teaching virtual sales techniques and social selling for over a decade, so take these seven suggestions for what they're worth. Apply them, and decide for yourself if they help you make a better first social media impression.
How To Make a Great Virtual (Zoom) Meeting Impression
In March of 2020, the vast majority of the world discovered the fun and joy of virtual meetings and sales calls. And just as fast, the majority learned they had no idea how to successfully present or sell via a Zoom Call. And that's why virtual sales training became a hot topic and a significant portion of our sales training business here at Converse Digital. In fact, two years later, we're still seeing a high demand for this kind of training because research shows virtual selling isn't going anywhere. It's the new normal. If you want to learn more about our virtual selling training offerings, click here to set up a call with me.
In the meantime, let me share six tips for making sure you create the best first impression possible on your next Zoom Call. And if you're looking to go deeper on the subject, I'd suggest reading 11 Tips for Hosting Better Zoom Calls and Meetings or maybe 3 Simple Steps to Building Rapport on Virtual Sales Calls.
Whether you believe first impressions are forever or not, do you really want to risk being wrong? Especially since it's so easy to take simple steps to ensure your first impression is always positive and sets you up for future success. Speaking of first impressions, if you're a first-time reader, and I've made a good first impression on you, why not consider subscribing for a few more impressions. Of course, you can cancel free of charge at any time 😉. Till next week.