Build the Ultimate First Impression

In this article I’m going to talk about the value of first impressions. My hope is that this encourages you to focus on nailing your first impression with anyone you meet.


This is a direct extract from the soon to be released book Sales Icon: Selling in the Shadows.


We all know that first impressions are important, it is reported that when we first meet someone we judge them within one tenth of a second. Now most people out there can nail the initial part of the first impression, that’s what comes from the expected norms like punctuality, appearance, manner etc. Where people often struggle is the part after the initial first impression, this is when the buyer thin slices you.


So what is this thin slicing?


Well it’s the step after the first initial impression. It’s where a person judges something, whether that be a person, item or situation. This judgement has an observation window of around five minutes, to which various information will be absorbed and digested, then a judgement will be made known as thin slicing.




Thin slicing is scarily accurate too. Malcolm Gladwell in his book Blink touches on some of this accuracy in great detail. One such story he talks about is that of the Getty Museum, when they purchased a marble statue called the Kouros for $10M. The Getty made sure to validate the authenticity of the Kouros with scrupulous checks from renowned geologists and other sources.


Throughout the process many stakeholders were sceptical and thought it was a fake, despite its seemingly legitimate legal documents and background history. The scepticism of many of the worlds experts on Greek sculpture came from anomalies with the Kouros, things like the fingernails were out of character for its period, or the colour didn’t match that of other alike sculpture.


Many experts said it’s a fake but science did not, tests showed that it dated back to the correct time period. Long story short the experts were right, it was a forgery, an expert forgery at that. So much so that the only people whom could spot that it was a fake were the experts. Those experts however could spot this almost instantaneously and it’s all because of thin slicing. A judgement from an observation in a short time window.


So how about the accuracy of thin slicing. Well again I’m going to briefly mention a point from Malcolm Gladwells Blink as it’s an authority on the subject of thin slicing. He talks of one behavioural psychologist named John Gottman whom through the use of thin slicing can predict with 95% accuracy whether a married couple will still be married in fifteen years’ time.


Thin slicing is powerful, that’s why we need to use it to our advantage. We have a short window before the person we are speaking with makes a judgement on us, therefore we must do our upmost to ensure that that thin slice they take on us and our proposition is a positive one.


For this reason, we at Sales Icon Coaching will always champion using a Power Statement early on in any sales interaction, especially the first time you meet with someone. This is to positively affect how the buyer thin slices you.


Captivate them and appear as an expert in your field and that impression will stick. For more on Power Statements read my previous article:


So the key take away. Be conscious of thin slicing in your initial interactions, make a good impression and you’ll be positively thin sliced which will drastically increase your chances of selling to the buyer.

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