Today I spend a lazy Sunday relaxing with my wife at the in-law's house just a few miles away. As we were eating dinner outside, a gentleman walked up the driveway. Apparently my father-in-law is interested in getting his driveway completely repaved and had asked a few pavement specialists to come out, assess the job, and provide a quote.
When John returned to the table, I asked him how it went. He immediately told me he was not going to give that gentleman his business. When I asked him why, his answer was very interesting. Instead of giving you his answer, I'll provide the details of the two specialists who came out to the house. (Their names are fake.)
Paving Specialist #1 – Dan
Dressed in a collared shirt and khakis, Dan came to the house looking and acting very professional. Dan surveyed the existing driveway, pulled out a clipboard and calculator and calculated the proposed cost. After handing my father in-law the proposal, he thanked him for the opportunity to do business, handed over his business card and left.
Paving Specialist #2 – Joe
Dressed in a t-shirt and tattered jeans, Joe arrived at the house. He pulled some pieces of paper out of his jeans to record the measurements of the driveway. He could not provide a proposal but said he'd be in contact soon with the proposed cost. He didn't have a business card.
Can you guess which pavement specialist got the job? Which was the one that was "definitely not" getting the business? Did you notice price didn't even factor in the equation? The thought process is simple: His presentation lacked any professionalism, so his work will lack professionalism. Whether or not that's actually true doesn't matter. Joe has already lost the business because of my father-in-law's perception of him. Take a look at a blog post I wrote just a few days ago about audience perception and you'll see why it's so important.
As I've said before, you are ALWAYS presenting. Especially in business, you have to realize that every interaction with the customer is a presentation. A customer service call. A website landing page. You don't have to launch PowerPoint to make a presentation. Make every interaction count.