What do customers want from a first impression?

Issue #209 | November 1, 2022 | Todd Miller

I recently wrote about the customer experience for metal roofing contractors. Especially during economic downturns, it’s critical to evaluate the experience you provide to prospects and customers. Competition usually increases during these times, and less work is available. I want to discuss how to have a great first impression with prospects and secure more jobs for your company. 

To some degree, interacting with a prospect is a series of first impressions, each as critical as the next. To note, it is nearly impossible to undo a bad first impression. If a customer decides they won’t do business with you early on, your chances are way down. 

A prospect’s first exposure to your brand will likely be through your website, an advertisement, a home show, or even a past client. This interaction must clearly communicate your brand – your unique offering. If you don’t give them a compelling reason to contact your company over a competitor, you’ve lost them.  

Think deeply when you develop this reason. What, above all, do you want your company to be known for or associated with? A particular product? Quality? Customer care? Pricing? Experience? Training? Once you find this, build it into every bit of marketing. Boil it down to a core message and demonstrate it in everything you do. 

The next opportunity for a first impression will likely be an inbound or outbound call. The goal of the call should be to set an appointment. Highly successful businesses respect the importance of a professional appointment setter and won’t divert this to the sales team. Good appointment setters not only set the time and place of a meeting, but they set the stage for the appointment. They establish customer expectations so that things go smoothly. Nothing creates a worse impression than preparing the prospect to set aside 20 minutes for a 2 – 3-hour appointment. 

A solid appointment setter also collects information about the prospect’s motivations. Why have they reached out to you? What frustrations are they experiencing, and what needs to change? Prospects are often willing to say more to the appointment setter than the salesperson. 

Your appointment setter should do behind-the-scenes work to learn as much as possible about the prospect and their home and then pass those details to the salesperson. Additionally, the appointment setter should call and confirm the appointment 24 – 48 hours in advance. 

The next first impression is what many people think is the only one – when the salesperson shows up at the house. No doubt about it, this is a critical juncture in the relationship. Here are points to reinforce with your salespeople:

  • Know as much as possible about the prospect and their home before you arrive. While the appointment setter captures some of this information, do your research. Arriving early and driving around the house and neighborhood will give you valuable information.
  • Arrive in a clean vehicle and park on the street if possible.
  • Pull up a few minutes before the appointment and wave as you walk up. Ring the doorbell right at the scheduled time.
  • Instill confidence and imply experience through clothing, eyewear, hairstyle, etc.
  • Be neatly dressed in business casual, including a shirt or jacket with the company logo. 
  • Present your business card to the homeowner before asking to enter the home.
  • Have a firm handshake, make clear eye contact, and request permission before entering the home. If there’s any risk of tracking dirt into the customer’s home, ask if you should remove their shoes.
  • Smile, be at ease, and be upbeat. Being fully present in the conversation is key; taking notes can help.
  • Compliment the homeowner on their home. They are deservedly proud of it, and you should honor that.
  • Exude positive body language through good posture and an open stance.
  • Great salespeople make good conversation. Make a friend, be a friend.
  • Be interested and interesting. Successful salespeople talk about themselves by sharing fun stories while giving insight into their lives and character.
  • Be polite. Please, thank you, sir, and ma’am should be parts of the conversation. Ask for permission and continually explain the process so the prospect knows what is going on and there aren’t any surprises.
  • Prove your expertise by observing and assessing the home’s roofing and ventilation needs. Start by asking the homeowner what they perceive as their needs. Acknowledge and respect their answer and add your professional perspective.

Paying attention to your company’s first impressions will create and cement deals. Getting off on the wrong foot will have implications beyond that customer. People share strong feelings with their family and friends, and word will get out. Respect the power of a positive first impression! 

Please contact me at tmiller@isaiahindustries.com if you want to discuss this subject further.

has spent his entire career in the metal building products manufacturing industry. He is president of Isaiah Industries, an organization recognized as one of the world’s leading metal roofing manufacturers. Todd is currently Vice President of the MRA (Metal Roofing Association) and a Past Chair of MCA (Metal Construction Association). Through his website, he strives to raise the bar on standards and practices to provide property owners with the best possible products for successful roofing projects.

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