A personal poor first impression incident happened early on in my career as an entry level e-business banking officer. Part of my job scope at the time, included going to client locations to pitch our electronic banking applications to a group of often high ranking officials. It was a pretty standard routine, I would start off by delivering a power point presentation to highlight the product features, follow it with a Q&A session after which I would launch the application and proceed with a live demo to emphasize how user friendly the products were.
I delivered these presentations so often that it got to a point when I could do my presentations without having to look at the slides and could predict the questions that would be asked and answer them preemptively. I had also learnt from doing so many sales pitches that almost every audience had a ‘problem person’ and could spot them almost immediately I stepped into the meeting room. A ‘problem person’ in this instance refers to that one person that pretends to have more important things to do than being bogged with ‘your’ sales pitch, they usually spend most of the meeting fiddling with their phone/tab and would only spring into action during the time for questions to ask questions with the sole purpose of throwing you off.
Over the course of doing these pitches, I had learned that to manage the ‘problem person’, I needed to pay them more attention than necessary and answer their questions as politely as possible no matter how mundane or meaningless the questions were. The trick was to identify them for what they were (distractions), navigate their obstacle courses as effortlessly as possible, stay on focus and never lose my cool or let them get on my nerves.
On one occasion, I was tasked with making a pitch for an important prospect of the bank and before heading to the meeting my manager informed me of how big the prospects account was and the decision as to whether they would start banking with us rested on the product I was going to talk to them about. So I was already a bag of nerves heading into the clients office and it didn’t help matters when I spotted the problem person the moment he walked in as I was setting up. He sized me up and said to my hearing that he would have preferred someone ‘more senior’ than I was to handle the presentation.