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What impression are you making with your prospects and clients?

A few weeks ago, I explored how our actions can impact sales. Today, let’s consider the importance of visual and verbal presence for the modern seller. Do you dress the part of a leader and professional?  What does your physical presence exude?

What you say is important, too. Every communication, verbal or written, is an opportunity to showcase how well you organize your thoughts and articulate yourself.  How do you sound?

Look Ahead

You’ve heard it before. The first time people meet us, they form a judgment about us with lightning speed. One research study cited about 250 milliseconds. Those judgments of initial credibility and trust are based on appearance.

That’s a little intimidating. It’s humbling to think that before people even evaluate the substance of our message, our expertise, or our ability to help them solve their challenges, they’re making quick judgments about us based on our visual presence.

Even if you’re a skeptic of statistics, it’s smart to pay attention because this part of human nature—the continual evaluation of the environment and the people around us—can help us become better sellers. We subconsciously filter information, accepting what we perceive as credible and releasing the rest. And yes, this “credibility filtering” mechanism initially includes paying close attention to how others present themselves, visually and verbally.

You’re a leader in your customers’ eyes, so don’t risk being mistaken for anything other than that. When it comes to visual presence, a little fine-tuning can enhance your personal brand and pave the way for others to truly value the substance of your message. I’ve found that working on these outside attributes can give us momentum for the work we’re doing on the inside to build our skills and expertise.

As a modern seller, your visual presence includes the obvious: dressing for the part. While it doesn’t mean having to invest in a whole new wardrobe, it might mean ensuring that your clothes are tailored, that you pay attention to the finishing touches.  It might mean more attention to your physical vitality – like your fitness and nutrition habits.

Some more-subtle cues also contribute to your identity. Unless we’re paying attention to them, we may never realize how valuable they are. Cues like:

  • The seat you take at a conference table. Whenever I attend a meeting, I make sure to select a seat that allows me to see, be seen, and contribute. If I’m leading the meeting, I take the head seat.
  • Your gestures and animations. Are your gestures and animations appropriate for your message? For example, I know some people who deliver tough messages with a smile. It’s usually a subconscious way to soften the message or an attempt to alleviate awkwardness; instead, it negatively affects your professional credibility.
  • Eye contact. Making eye contact conveys your confidence, expertise, and sincerity. Always make and maintain confident eye contact, especially when introducing yourself.

Words Matter

Think about your last week at the office. You probably:

  • Sent and received a minimum of 100 emails a day
  • Sent and received dozens of voicemails
  • Took many calls in your car on your cell phone
  • Were on multiple sales calls, conference calls and webinars, and attended daily meetings
  • Commented on various social and professional sites, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter
  • Instant messaged, texted, Skyped, and Google Voiced.

In today’s business world, the methods, speed, and sheer volume of communication can be overwhelming. What do all of these communication methods have in common? They’re completely second nature. And because they’re second nature, we rarely see them for what they are—opportunities to be strategic and showcase our personal brand through our verbal presence.

Your verbal presence combines many factors:

  • How you organize and articulate your thoughts
  • The tone, pitch, and speed of your voice
  • The clarity of your message, both in content and punctuation
  • Your ability to be concise and on point
  • Your ability to use the language of your business and industry.

Verbal presence is about both the substance and the packaging of your message. Here are a few simple strategies you can use to turn your spoken and written words into a selling advantage.

When Speaking 

TAPS is a formula sales professionals can use to quickly communicate your thoughts in almost any situation:

Take a breath and pause. Taking a breath helps you physiologically and mentally. This public speaking trick works wonders, especially when you’re put on the spot. And while it may seem like a lifetime to you, the other person won’t even notice that quick second of silence.

Assess and select one point to make. The key word here is one—a single point, not several points. This is a critical mistake I often see people make. This part of the formula requires you to be decisive, which is another essential modern selling trait.

Provide support. This is where you can elaborate a bit, sharing two to three supporting pieces of information for your point. Again, keep this brief. The human brain stores only a few pieces of information at a time in the short-term memory. Your ability to be concise when communicating with your clients and prospects also conveys your confidence.

Summarize. If necessary, add a quick summary statement after you provide your supporting comments. If you are asked follow-up questions or for more information, it’s an opportunity to share even more of your expertise.

When Writing

Below are some tips to stand out with written communication, especially email. A few assumptions you should make:

  • Your message is sandwiched between dozens of other email messages.
  • The recipient is likely reading your message on a mobile device.
  • The recipient will open it, scan it quickly, and close it – in seconds. Then the recipient will decide if it gets a reply.

With those assumptions in mind:

  • Create a short, substantive subject line.
  • Use a brief opening sentence to set up the body of the message.
  • Make your point right away.
  • Use two to three short bulleted statements or phrases for any supporting information.
  • Summarize with your request or call to action.
  • Review the message before you hit send.
  • If the message warrants, specify when you’ll follow up.

Look for the next article in this series to dive deeper into another building block: modern selling habits.

In the meantime, you can download our Sales Strategies ebook now for more great tips.

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