August 14, 2022

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Remember the movie ‘Catch me if you can’? The main character, Frank Abagnale, is able...

Remember the movie ‘Catch me if you can’? The main character, Frank Abagnale, is able to fool people easily by gaining their trust, and by persuading others of his (non-existent) expertise. He was able to do so by making a killer first impression.

Even something as simple as expensive corporate shirts or a genuine smile was all he needed to wheedle his way into people’s lives. We can all learn a few things from him for business—while of course avoiding the deceitful aspect, which would lead to losing clients in the long run.

How to Make the Impression You Want

Impressing clients (or prospects) from the initial moment of meeting is key to gaining and retaining their custom. Whether it be through demeanour, outward appearance or something as simple as timeliness, impressions are all we have to go by when we first meet someone. And it’s very powerful in driving decision making processes, especially before we get to know someone.

‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’, the old adage goes. But, until you’re familiar with a person, the only measure is outward appearance and body language to discern whether a person is trustworthy and reliable or not. So, how exactly do you make sure your new customers trust you?

Dress to Impress

We all know you can’t judge a person’s value by the clothes they wear, but you can certainly tell a lot about his or her character at first glance. If they care about themselves, it will show in their clothing and how they present physically. This will in turn give the impression that they could be very responsible, and care for others.

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Be Practical

If, for instance, you wear clothing that prevents you from becoming too warm and sweaty, someone else may ascertain that you think through issues carefully and plan in advance. Can you see how one item you wear makes a huge impact?

Similarly, if you wear a high-quality lightweight cotton shirt that is custom-made, others could consider you as respectful to the people you meet. They may even think you care about the planet as well, as cotton manufacturers are far kinder to the environment than using some other fabrics.

Think About Style

Also think about style! All over the world, we tend to dress more formally with higher status individuals, so dressing more formally will convey greater respect. And don’t forget cleanliness because a dark patch under an armpit may have some feel uncomfortable for YOUR sake.

So, invest in some expensive clothing and even a good suit. Frank Abagnale always gave the impression that he was not only wealthy, but that quality was important to him. This subliminal message will convey to the client that high-quality work can be expected from the person standing in front of them.

In addition, colours are important. Think of the shirts that Tom Abagnale wore. Subtle, black, blue, and white are safe colours. They reassure us of the person’s professionalism, as well as the fact that the wearer is not pushy or overbearing.

The other vital item is an expensive pair of shoes. Clients have been known to reject the seller or marketer by simply glancing at a pair of rubber-soled shoes. Make sure yours not only fit well but are of the same standard as your suit and shirt.

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Your Approach

Frank Abagnale always presented with confidence, friendliness, and an interest in people. This gave him an edge when winning people’s trust. He was able to place himself in people’s shoes, which made people feel that he was just like them – trustworthy people.

Let’s look at those characteristics.

  • Present yourself as confident, not full of yourself, but trusting in your ability to serve the client with your expertise.
  • Friendliness prompts people to like you, and this may soon win them over to your cause. A smile is a psychological trigger that someone is not harmful. And open gestures and postures give the message that a person is being honest, and that they’re approachable. Make eye contact, relax your shoulders, stand up straight, and win them over.
  • An interest in people conveys to them that they are important to you, and valuable. Most people are persuaded by this (dependent on the culture).
  • Take care that you don’t appear too deferent, or that you wish to kowtow to them. This is off-putting to people and makes them feel uncomfortable. They make think you’re not genuine or that you have something to hide. Instead, treat each client like a partner or equal to inspire them to be deeply invested in your product. They will be inspired to give their own ideas in order to benefit the project or purchase.


Frank Abagnale gives us a good example of how to win clients over, and we can copy his manner and his dress to help us impress. Your life may not become a movie script, but you can impress many more people than you think!

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