Everyone has heard the words, “Perception is everything.” We use our senses to form a perception about something. What we observe , touch , taste, smell and hear form an impression in our minds about this “something”. What we perceive is what we believe. Consider the buyer who is looking for a home and stumbles upon the perfect rancher but learns it has small rooms and a funny odor. It doesn’t create the right impression and the sale is lost. What about the recruiter who has scoured the Internet to find just the right candidate only to be disappointed by the timid, unprepared college graduate he has just interviewed? Think about the last time you encountered a rude employee in the grocery store. Was it what they said or how they said it that convinced you not to ever return to that store? How about the lousy food you ate in that new restaurant near your home? Did that one meal decide whether you would ever patronize that eating establishment again?
Unfortunately, first impressions often determine if a consumer will purchase or repurchase a product or service. If you are a business owner with a storefront or an office , what message does your work space convey to prospective clients? If you have a website, are your brand, the message you are conveying about your business values and benefits to the consumer, and contact information clearly and attractively displayed? Do your business cards, brochures, and other promotional materials include your company name and contact information and concisely encourage consumers to consider purchasing from you because of your unique ability to meet their needs? Is the message in your marketing materials about your company consistent? Does your voicemail message sound welcoming and engaging and inform the client of a time period when they can expect you to contact them? Do you follow-up with customers to ensure they were satisfied with your services or product? Do you continually allow your cell phone to interrupt a meeting you are having with a client, or do you make that client feel like the center of attention? Do you send a thank you note to clients for their business? Do you thank people who give you referrals? Do you dress appropriately for the type of business you conduct? Obviously , you wouldn’t expect to see an auto repair shop owner greet you in a suit and tie!
Are you organized? Do you have procedures in place to conduct business in an organized manner? Do you have the appropriate forms to capture the client information you need to complete a business transaction with them? Do you make it easy for your customers to purchase from you perhaps by accepting credit cards and issuing a receipt as proof of purchase? Are you knowledgeable about your products and services and can you inspire someone to purchase from you? Do your products and services offer something which differentiates you from your competitors? Do you keep in contact with your customers after the sale – advising them of any current sales or additional product information – or just calling them to see to see how they are doing ? In other words, what is your customer’s perception of the overall experience of doing business with you? Consumer perceptions can make or break the sale. They define your brand.