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Impressions That Failed to Impress - Horror Stories XIX

A great sales truism is that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Fortunately, as these Monster members learned, it is possible to make a sale despite a lousy first impression.

Facing Disaster

Could you meet your clients the way Monster member tim_lex had to?

My new company stressed professional appearance. After three weeks on the job, I went to a buddy's incredible bachelor party. It was so incredible that I woke up the next morning to discover my friends had shaved off my eyebrows. I got my girlfriend to draw eyebrows, and they actually looked OK. None of my coworkers noticed, and I began to get my confidence back. I decided to go on a sales call I had been preparing for more than a week. Upon arriving and meeting the potential client, I noticed he was staring at me kind of funny.

That is when I lost it. I screamed, "I am not a drag queen! My !@#$% friends shaved them off."

He just stared at me and then began to shake with laughter. It definitely broke the ice, and he is now one of my best customers. I used those eyebrows -- or lack thereof -- in almost every meeting until they grew back. As an icebreaker, no eyebrows worked so well that I have even considered shaving them off again.

The Accidental Salesperson suggests: When you shave your own eyebrows, we'll ask you to write it up on a different Web site.

Pileup

Monster member Scgamble recalls how she tackled her first sales assignment:

I used to work in the staffing industry. For weeks, I tried to get a meeting with a potential account before finally booking it. Arriving just in time and not wanting to be late, I rushed for the front door. I threw it open only to find the man I was to have a meeting with walking towards me. Nervously, I tripped through the door, landing at his feet. He then tripped over me and fell to the floor. This is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me. I did receive a job order six months later.

The Accidental Salesperson responds: He probably didn't want to find out what you'd do to him if he didn't buy.

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there were no PowerPoint presentations. Monster member Bryanbell remembers his first dog and pony show:

We used custom-made slides in our presentations to major prospects. During one of my first presentations to a national prospect, my boss and his boss decided to attend. On the way to the meeting, we picked up the slides, and I quickly inserted them in the slide tray. I used the upside-down and backwards trick to make sure they would project properly on the screen.

The first slide was a picture of the United States showing the locations of all our facilities. I began explaining our national presence when a hand went up in the back of the conference room. I stopped mid-sentence and asked if she had a question. Her question was brief and direct, "Since when did Maine move to the West Coast?"

The United States slide was backwards. I quickly said. "I guess upside-down and backwards doesn't work after all." The room erupted in laughter as I quickly pulled the slide, flipped it around and dropped it back in and looked at my two bosses, who didn't look pleased. As it turns out, the blunder at the beginning served as a great icebreaker. We got the sale a few weeks later.

Moral: Just be yourself and remember that people buy from people.

The Accidental Salesperson comments: Custom 35mm slides cost up to $30 each. Salespeople used slides to make important points. With PowerPoint, you can make too many slides and bore people to death. Be sure you are center stage, not your slide show.

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