The handshake is critical.THE GREETING. Welcome to your first day as a professional sales consultant, I don’t mean like your first, first day… I mean your first real live day on your own.  You have the desk, some business cards, shirt and tie… check.  The business you work for has given you their “sales process” or “road to the sale” and that’s all you really need besides customers right?  That’s a negative tower… just because you have some wire strippers and black tape, that does not make you an electrician; no more than the tools of the sales trade make you an unstoppable professional sales consultant.

One of the most valuable tools that you will have in your repertoire is your professional greeting.  That’s right the script that you use, over and over again, with every customer – and IT SHOULD BE THE SAME GREETING EVERY TIME!  Remember, right from the point you see the customer and the customer sees you, people still judge by first appearance, regardless of if we say we do or not, it happens.  You are sizing up the customer based on the car they drive, the way they dress and personal appearance – and the (potential) customer is doing the same of you!  For example, for those of us in the auto industry, when approaching the customer on the lot, make sure your approach is direct.  Look the customer in the eye, carry yourself confidently and SMILE, then shake hands.  Let me pose this question, where does your greeting begin? … Most people will respond that it begins when they first see the customer, in my opinion, that’s not the best answer.  My belief is that it starts when you first get up in the morning.  It starts by you, as a professional being properly groomed, clothes pressed and what sort of attitude you choose to start your day with.  There is a lot to be said for the “setup” before you ever see your prospect.

You can adjust your greeting to fit whatever sales industry you are in.  As I stated above, direct approach, confidence, eye contact – SMILE!  Then as you approach and you greet the prospect, with a firm handshake, your opening line should read something like, “Hello, welcome to (insert company name) Motors, my name is (Mike).” Pause here so the prospect has an opportunity to respond.  If they don’t give you their name right away then you may respond with, “And you are?…”  The reason I say to pause rather than jump right into the “And you are?…” question, is because it seems more natural.  When you meet new people at a club or party you generally say, “Hi I’m (Mike).”  and they in turn respond, “Hi (Mike), I’m _____.”  It’s just more natural.  On your greeting, in any sales industry, your first ten seconds will determine if the prospect is going to give you the next 10 minutes of their time; therefore, 10 seconds to gain 10 minutes to build rapport, to gain their trust, to make the sale.  It all starts from your greeting.

Why is the approach and handshake such an important step for those of us in sales?  The reason is because is creates congruency.  If your approach is lackadaisical, shoulders slouched and then you wave, rather than shaking hands with your prospect, what does that tell them.  Two things, at least, uninterested and lack of confidence, regardless of your words or script saying, “Welcome…”.  Remember that only a small percentage of our communication involves the words we use, 7% to be exact.  38% of our communication is voice tone, and 55% is our body language.  The world’s best business communicators know how to use the proper words (tact), in conjunction with their voice tone and have strong body language this creates a commanding presence that reflects confidence, competence, and charisma.

The last thing I want to address this week is the handshake.  We all know how to shake hands with someone right… or do we?  Who trains us to shake hands?  Where do we learn it from?  It used to be that Dads and Grandads would take young men aside and “practice” teaching them to have a firm handshake.  So where do young professional sales women learn?  I would venture to say, for most people in any sales industry today, you’ve been learning to shake hands from strangers.  Don’t believe me, that’s okay, when you are all done reading this, go shake hands with a female that you are close to, i.e. mom, grandmother, sister or wife.  It will be awkward.  You know why?  Because the people we are closest to we always hug.  There are several different ways to shake someones hand, and they often carry different psychological meaning, for now let’s keep it basic.  When shaking hands with someone at the greeting you should be even, not over the top or underneath.  Give about one small click of higher pressure than the prospect gives.  Look them in the eye, and the shake should be two to three seconds; longer than that you are just holding their hand.  You need to practice your handshake, just like you need to practice your greeting script, with someone that will give you feedback.

If you want to be the top pro, then you need to practice, drill, rehearse – REPEAT!