Recently, while I was doing business in Hanover, Pennsylvania, I stopped at a very nice bar/restaurant for a martini on my way back to the hotel. My thought was to have a drink at the bar and then possibly have dinner.
I am always very specific about how I like my martini prepared. So I asked for a Tito’s martini, shaken very cold, no vermouth, with a twist of lemon. Very simple request, I thought. The female bartender then asked if I wanted it dirty. When I said no, she asked if I wanted olives. I was losing a little patience, but I calmly repeated my original request: “Very simply, just a Tito’s martini, shaken very cold, with a twist of lemon.”
I watched the bartender begin preparing my drink. She poured the vodka into a shaker with ice and shook it only slightly, for a very short time, and then proceeded to pour the contents into a margarita glass. After that she took half a lemon and used a fruit squeezer to squeeze it into the glass. Finally she put a stirrer into the margarita glass and placed it in front of me.
When I told her I asked for a “twist of lemon,” and not a squeeze of lemon, she seemed puzzled. So I did my best to explain what a “twist of lemon” meant, and then I asked if they had martini glasses. She told me that all the martini glasses were dirty, but she would prepare me another martini in a margarita glass.
I told her to proceed with her second attempt and carefully watched her process. This time after mildly shaking my drink and pouring it into the glass she took a lemon wedge and coated the rim of the glass and discarded the rind. Then, for some strange reason, she put a stirrer in a margarita glass filled only with vodka, and placed it in front of me. Not sure why anyone would want to stir plain chilled vodka!
At this point, I was not about to ask her to prepare a third martini.So, you may ask, what does this martini story have to do with professional sales? Just like in a restaurant, the first impression is critical. If the restaurant hires bartenders who do not know how to prepare basic cocktails, what does that say about management? I would also be concerned about the staff in the kitchen responsible for preparing my dinner. If you can’t do the simple things right, how will you be confident that the more difficult tasks are executed correctly? Based on my first experience at this establishment, not only did I not stay for dinner, I will never go back.
What first impression do you make on your initial sales call? Have you done the necessary research on your prospect so he will get the impression you understand his business, are a true professional and are not just looking to make a quick deal? Or did you simply wing it?
Remember, you are the face of the company. Whatever impression you make will be the impression your prospect has of the company you represent. In many cases it might take weeks or even months to get in front of a key decision-maker. Don’t squander it!
Be mindful of the fact that you only have one chance to make a first impression.
Good or bad. This is reality!

Be humble, not prideful
Proverbs 23:5
Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone,
And they will surely sprout wings
And fly off to the sky like an eagle.