Your Internal State May Be Costing You Clients

first impressions, state management, top performers

Before you walk into a meeting with a prospective client, do you take a moment to collect yourself?  If not, you may be costing yourself clients.

In my NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) training, we spent a lot of time focused on state management and how your internal state impacts your thoughts, your communication and the impression you make on the person you are interacting with at the time.

Many years ago I read a study about top performing managers and sales people.  The purpose of the study was to find out how managers and salespeople maintained excellence even in high-stress situations.  The answer, in addition to being prepared for the meeting, was they took the time to manage their internal state before walking into the meeting.

For many years while working in the technology field, I worked closely with a man who’s job was to schedule customer visits for me when I was in his area.  The upside to working with him, he was a wealth of knowledge about the products, customers in his territory and his competition.  The downside to working with him, he would consistently show up 40 minutes late to our first appointment of the day.

When he’d finally arrive, he would come into the room covered in sweat, briefcase hanging open with all the pockets unzipped, and he looked totally disheveled.  He would stop the meeting to apologize and tell the story as to why he was 40 minutes late.  His internal state came across as frantic and stressed.

Have you ever had a meeting with someone that showed up late and came across as frantic and stressed?  Did you want to do business with that person?

If your answer is “no,” I’m right there with you!  As much as I respected this man’s expertise, working with him drove me nuts!

We all know we should show up on time for meetings; that’s a given.  What most people do not take the time to do is manage their internal state before walking into the meeting.

Regardless if you’re on time or running late, this is a crucial step to setting the tone for the meeting.

For my former associate, it would have been much better had he taken 2 or 3 minutes to visit the restroom, wipe off the sweat, get his heart rate back to normal, fix his appearance including his messy briefcase and then walk into the meeting.

The Savvy Sales Tip this week is to take the time to manage your internal state before starting a meeting.

Savvy Sales Tip - State Management, first impressions, selling

Here are a couple of suggestions on how to manage your internal state:

  1. Take a few deep breaths before starting a meeting, do this before making a phone call as well.  When we’re nervous, many of us tend to hold our breath or take shallow breaths which can make our voice shaky and sound less credible.
  2. Imagine in the privacy of your mind, setting aside anything distracting you from giving your full attention to the other person.  People who’re focusing on what else they have on their to-do list may come off as unfocused or uninterested in the prospective client.
  3. Take the time needed: 30 seconds to 3 minutes to collect yourself, freshen up your appearance, and anything else you need to do to be your best in the meeting.  (In my signature 5 week sales class, Savvy Selling, I teach a simple mantra for people to say to themselves before each client interaction.  Many of my clients report after learning this simple mantra, they use it before every meeting to get centered and focused).
  4. Acknowledge any missteps, apologize and then move on. For instance, if you’re busy explaining in detail all the reasons you’re late, you’re robbing yourself of crucial time building the relationship and learning about the other person and how to best meet their needs. Chances are your prospective client isn’t interested in the accident on the 405 or how you spilled coffee on your shirt, etc.

My NLP teach used to say, “Make like a swan when entering a room, a swan glides across the water barely making a ripple on top of the water even when the swan is paddling like hell.”

internal state management, first impressions

Sometimes I actually say to myself when feeling stressed before a meeting, “Be the swan.”  It’s a way to remind myself to manage my internal state to be calm, cool, and collected.

What do you do to manage your internal state before a meeting with a prospective client?

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