How To Dress For Success – A Quick Peek Into The Sales Professional’s Wardrobe
It’s not enough to be the best at what you do, you must also be perceived as the best. It’s what we call personal branding. One of the easiest ways to convey an image of professionalism and success is through clothing.
While we don’t always like to admit it, we all judge people by their appearance. Clothes tell us a lot about their personality, taste and lifestyle. As a salesperson it’s easier to judge a customer by what they’re wearing than it is to dress in a way that is acceptable to everyone.
Clothing can also help to establish an equal relationship with a prospect or customer. As salespeople we often meet with C-level executives and other powerful, influential people. These decision makers expect you to act and communicate on their level.
Unfortunately their expectations are not always met. This has less to do with a lack of intelligence on the part of the salesperson than with his or her attitude. How can you expect to be treated as an equal if you don’t act (or dress) like one?
Here are some simple, but often overlooked style tips that will help you to position yourself:
- My best piece of advice is to avoid extremes in terms of style and color. Respect the unwritten rules of the business dress code. Executives wear blue, grey or black. While a red suit will certainly make you stand out, it won’t help you to be taken seriously.
- Executives wear jeans at home or when on vacation in Saint-Tropez, not at work. Never be tempted to wear jeans to an appointment, even when you’re sure the customer doesn’t mind or dresses casually himself.
- Business people wear ties, so you should too. While some people prefer loud, colorful ties, it’s safer to stick to muted and more conservative colors.
- Something a lot of business people have in common is that they like to display their success through valuable objects. Therefore don’t take notes with a cheap Bic Cristal. Get yourself a quality, expensive pen for your next birthday instead.
- Mind the details. It’s no use to respect only half the code. Using a Montblanc pen to write down notes in an old, ugly notebook is like wearing a tailored suit with Uggs.
- Always act refined and polite. Avoid dubious jokes, even when your customer or prospect is making them.
- Don’t overdo your accessories. No large hoop earrings, experimental nail art or rings on every finger. Tattoos and piercings are a no-go and should never be visible.
- Keep your hairstyle and make-up low key. While you might like to dress up for a glamorous night out, your appointment with the customer is hardly a red carpet event. Make sure to check your hair and make-up before each appointment.
- Avoid open shoes and make sure they are clean, polished and well-maintained. The same holds true for clothes. Make sure they fit well and keep them clean and wrinkle-free.
- Watch out with perfume. While you may like a particular scent, the prospect or customer might not be too fond of the fragrance or even develop an allergic reaction to it. Also remember that there’s a strong link between scent and memory. Some fragrances might bring up bad memories for certain people.
- If you are looking for a way to stand out, get yourself a beautiful watch, belt or bag. They are great ways to make an impact in a discrete way.
As a general rule of thumb it’s always better to dress more formal than your average customer. Don’t dress as the person you are, dress as the person you want to be. The image you want to convey is that of a solid, dependable business partner.
If you dress and act like a C-level executive, this will automatically increase your credibility, authority and the value of your offering. Who knows, your boss might see it this way too and consider you for that vacant position of key account manager.
Of course different industries have different dress codes. While you can get away with a purple suit in a creative environment like advertising, fashion or design, it’s probably not a good idea if you’re a realtor or insurance agent.
Don’t forget that as a salesperson you’re the ambassador of your company. Your image will inevitably be linked to that of your company. If you don’t come across as a professional, dependable business partner, your company won’t either.