Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pay Attention to First Impressions

I thought I was interested in a potential new client who could benefit from my "change agent" services in their business development environment.

I experienced three negative initial impressions; the first was when they called me to set up a planning telephone call. It was reinforced when I visited their headquarters for the first time.

For the initial telephone planning session, they called 30 minutes later than the scheduled time.  They told me matter of factly that an unexpected situation caused them to be late.  I had to reschedule the call because I had another appointment.  A few days later they sent me an email asking to re-reschedule the planning call because of a new unexpected situation.  My antenna went up.  Was this the way they treated their employees as well?

A week later when I walked into their well-adorned lobby, I was greeted by an unfriendly receptionist.  I felt like an invader.

As I was escorted to the conference room, I passed quiet employees who were alone in their cubes and didn't look like they were enjoying their day.

When the managers who could benefit from my services entered the conference room, I sensed a very negative air about them even before the first words were spoken.  The conversation was very superficial and we never got to the heart of the matter after one hour of skirting the issues.

I decided to not follow through with the engagement.

The moral of the story is to pay attention to the environment before you decide to pursue an opportunity.  Maybe it's just one person who is relaying a questionable signal.  But if you find consistency in at least three separate interaction points, something's up.

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