Regardless of what you’re selling, or who you’re selling it to, here are some tips to help you dress for sales success.
While it’s true that you only get one chance to make a first impression, it’s also true that you get infinite chances to make a bad impression. The way you dress says a lot about how you want to present yourself as a salesperson. Inappropriate attire can permanently affect a prospect or client’s opinion of you. Right or wrong, we all judge people by their appearances. If your appearance isn’t professional, it will be hard for potential customers to regard you as one. Regardless of what you’re selling, or who you’re selling it to, here are some tips to help you dress for sales success.
Not everyone has to wear business attire. If you’re selling enterprise software to a Fortune 500 company, it’s probably a good idea to stick to accepted business-wear. If you’re selling farm implements at an agriculture show, a suit and tie will make you stick out like a sore thumb. Only you know your clientele, so only you can judge what is appropriate. Whatever you choose to wear, make sure that the clothes are clean, and free of wrinkles or holes. Make sure that you are well-groomed, with properly trimmed nails and hair, and no stubble for the men. If you have facial hair, it should also be neatly trimmed. The point is to look like you care about your appearance and how you present yourself to others.
You never want to under-dress for a sales meeting. Wearing khakis and a collared shirt to a boardroom full of suits will make you stand out-not in a good way. Wearing ripped-up blue jeans and a concert T-shirt to a farm show won’t make you look any better. Always lean conservative in your style of dress. For most salespeople, khakis and a collared shirt will be the bare minimum. Skirts and heels may not work at a farm show, but ladies can still lean conservative with pressed pants, a blouse, and flats. You don’t want to dress above and beyond your target market, but you also don’t want to look like you’re there to deliver a pizza.
Men and women should keep jewelry to a tasteful minimum. No gaudy rings or necklaces, and avoid large hoop or dangling earrings. Unconventional piercings should be removed or covered whenever possible. The same goes double for tattoos-despite their growing popularity, they’re still not mainstream enough to be on display during a sales meeting. Unless you’re working a body-modification convention, keep your appearance traditional and unmodified.
Sales meetings can occur anywhere. From boardrooms to factory floors, you never know where a prospect might lead you. Tailor your appearance for the situation. If you know you’re going to spend the day walking a production line while wearing a hard hat and steel-toe shoes, a three-piece suit will come off as more than a bit ostentatious. Again, the focus should be on a neat, clean appearance that shows you put consideration into how you would be viewed by others.
It should go without saying, but unfortunately it doesn’t. Stained clothes, dirty fingernails, and un-brushed teeth still find their way into sales meetings. What your clothes say about you could fill a book. What your personal hygiene says about you could fill a library. Don’t be afraid to keep a change of clothes, some deodorant, toothbrush, and electric razor handy. Throughout the day, the stress of sales can quickly undo everything your morning toilette accomplished. Maintaining a fastidious appearance is every bit as important as creating one in the first place. Don’t be afraid to touch up throughout the day, you’ll feel better and your clients will appreciate your efforts.
Claire has 4+ years of experience in sales and recruitment. As a Director of Client Services, her main objective is to connect great people to great companies by building strong relationships with both top clients and candidates in the sales industry. She specializes in sales roles of all seniority levels for both enterprise and start-up clients North American wide. When Claire isn't networking with top talent, she enjoys being outdoors, traveling and spending time with friends & family.