WOW, this is a huge subject!! As many opinions as there are sales people!!! Dress appropriate is the general rule of thumb but what the heck does that actually mean? To me at its simplest level it means you don’t wear a suit and tie to go see a Farmer!!
At a deeper level its all about first impressions and that means so much more that just what you wear. It comes down to your grooming, i.e hair, nails, shoes, teeth and then even further into your breath, the watch, the pen the sales compendium (laptop, iPad, flip charts etc). We really only get one chance to make a first impression so here are my notes on minimising any problems here.
Men, its really simple, go find the most successful sales person in your field and find out what they are wearing. Its probably a good indication of what you should be wearing. I was asked by one of my coaches starting out in a country town what he should wear. I asked him to go see what the top Accountant and top Lawyer were wearing. To his surprise they both chose to wear a tie and suit!
Your suit should be at least A$1000 in value. It should be dry cleaned regularly to avoid becoming shiny and hung up after each use. Make sure its not too flashy, dark colours work best, avoid light grays / browns or heavy pin stripes. Sports coats, blazers and non matching jackets are out. So too are double breasted suits, pleats in the front of your pants and baggy or ill fitting suits OUT….
We then get to shoes – this is a big one! When selling a professional service you have to spend money on your shoes!! Rubber soled shoes will kill you. I suggest a min of A$300 per pair, they will last you a long time if looked after. That means a regular polish, shoe trees, and a re sole every 2000 miles!!
The watch and pen are the same. Never walk in with your digital watch and plastic pen. Go invest in a Mont Blanc pen and a half decent watch. Whether you like it or not, people are judging your appearance and no matter how good you are some people will make a decision based upon what you look like – so make sure you can be liked when people look at you.
The tie – again Italian silk usually does the trick. If you are wearing a tie that was thrown in as a sweetener at the point of sale – best to use this a a toy for your cat to chase! Again, you are investing good money here to make more of it for yourself or your company.
Sox, make sure they match, are black and stay up. Avoid logos, bright colours, writing etc. My trick is to throw out all socks and go buy 10 pairs of exactly the same sox. That means I can be guaranteed of finding a pair straight off and when I get dressed even in the dark I am sure I will match.
Shirts. Keep them simple!, Here are some basic rules. NO SHORT SLEEVES PLEASE! White, light blue, slight stripes – checks are all OK. Throw out all shirts with worn collars or cuffs. Be conservative with the choice of collar. French cuffs are in right now with classy cuff links.
Personal grooming comes down to common sense. Nails clean and cut short. DO NOT BITE YOUR NAILS!!! Hair, short and sharp. No comb overs, no long hair, not too much product (gel), watch out for dandruff, just right! Watch out for nose hair, ear hair and long eye brows. This can be a shocker after the age of 40!! You have to keep on top of it. Female decision makers will see this a mile off.
Accessories, these include man bangles, rings, visible piercings, brief case, laptop, iPad and compendium. The less the better!! Again, spend money on being professional….
Remember, make sure you have someone look over your style and be prepared to shed the old stuff that doesn’t work and INVEST in your appearance. Find a style consultant who works your industry.
You only get one chance to make a first impression.