You only have one chance to make a first impression on a new customer. Even the smallest mistake can paint you as "just another salesperson" who doesn't understand what the customer wants or needs. But if you can master your approach to those initial conversations with customers, you can quickly earn the respect and trust of your ideal clients.

The first step to improving your initial conversations with customers is to identify what you're doing wrong. If you can recognize what's holding you back from connecting with customers, then you can adjust your approach accordingly--and start crushing your sales goals.

Check out these five mistakes most people make when meeting new customers. Stop making these mistakes today so you can enjoy valuable client relationships built on trust and respect:

1. Trying too hard to be liked

Old-school sales trainers will tell you that you need to build rapport with customers. They'll say, "People buy things from people they like." This just isn't true. Following this outdated advice will cause you to miss out on what matters most in new client relationships: trust and respect.

Never start a conversation with a customer with the intent of making a new friend. If your goal is to become the customer's best friend, you'll quickly turn into what I call the "yes man"--someone who will say and do anything in order to be liked. No one trusts--or buys from--that kind of person. Instead, people buy from people they respect and trust. Look for ways to establish yourself as someone your customer should respect and trust. Be genuine, focus on your customer's needs, and share valuable insights that your customer will find useful.

2. Acting too enthusiastic

This is another area where old-school sales trainers will lead you astray. They'll tell you that in order to get others excited about your product or service, you need to be enthusiastic about what you have to offer. As a result, people often come off as overly eager in their introductions, saying things like, "Hello there! It's so incredible to meet you! I just can't wait to tell you all about how my company can help you!"

Your customers hear from salespeople every day, and that enthusiastic greeting screams "cheesy salesperson." Instead, stand out from the crowd by adopting a low-key, genuine approach. By keeping your tone of voice low, using the right body language if you're in person, and slowing down your talking pace, you won't set off the "salesperson radar" in your customer's head. As a result, you'll capture their attention, engage them in conversation, and start to form a real connection.

3. Pitching

This is one of the biggest mistakes people make when meeting new customers. They'll start an introduction with a pitch that sounds something like, "Hi, I'm George from ABC Company, and our product or service is great because X, Y, and Z." Here's a little secret: Customers don't care about your product, service, or company. They only care about themselves. Open with this traditional pitch, it's guaranteed that your customer will tune you out and rush to end the conversation.

4. Not showing expertise

You may not realize this, but you are an expert in your industry. You work with many different clients and customers, so you have a unique bird's-eye-view of trends and challenges in your field. Your perspective is unique, and you are in a position to offer a lot of value to your clients. Failing to capitalize on this when you meet a customer is a huge mistake.

Think about some common challenges you see in your field--challenges you can solve. Then, talk to your customer about those challenges. When you share valuable information like this, every new customer will want to hear what you have to say. Plus, this provides a perfect opportunity to connect with customers about the challenges in their own organizations.

5. Failing to ask the right questions

One final mistake people make is that they talk a lot instead of asking questions. There's no way to build a real connection based on trust and respect if you're the one doing all the talking. Once you leverage your expertise to offer value and share common challenges you've observed, it's time to engage your new customer with some intentional questions.

After listing a few trends you've seen, try asking, "Do any of these issues strike a chord with you?" or "Do any of these challenges ring true to you?" This will prompt customers to think about their own organizations and open up to you about the key challenges they are facing. After you get some dialogue going around those key issues, you'll quickly establish relationships built on trust and respect--and those relationships result in closing way more sales.

Which of these crushing mistakes do you make when meeting new customers? What changes will you make to form authentic connections in the future? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Published on: Mar 21, 2017
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