Dress for success

You can’t judge a book by its cover, or can you?

As someone who has been in the business of selling books for the past 20 years, I can tell you that covers do influence potential buyers. The same thing applies to salespeople and dress.

The casual movement in business attire has devolved into flip flops, tee shirts, and shorts. I’m not kidding. In one of my recent seminars a young salesman showed up in this attire. I thought he was there to clean the windows. He was sharp, as his participation proved, but he always looked like the guy that was there to clean the windows.

Like it or not, buyers judge books by their covers. Perceived value, dress in this case, influences expectations. Why not use it to your advantage? Dress to the top of your market, not the bottom. Dress for the job you want, not the one you have. Dress for the image you want customers to remember.

I understand that in some industries, e.g. construction, some salespeople may need to get their hands dirty. That is not an excuse for sloppiness. If you wear a company logo golf shirt, make sure it’s clean and without stain. If you wear khaki work pants, have them pressed. Starched logo work shirts look better than wrinkled shirts. Clean work boots are better received than muddy work boots when calling on a customer’s office. You can dress to your market and still look professional. Do you think you will have less credibility with equipment operators if you look like a professional?

It seems silly that we have to discuss this with intelligent salespeople, but you cannot believe the number of sales managers that want me to talk to their salespeople about their image. The fundamental question is this: Do you look like a professional in your business or do you look like the guy that is there to wash the windows?

Tom Reilly is the author of Value-Added Selling and Customer Service and Crush Price Objections is more than a department: It’s an attitude! Reilly is also a professional speaker and you may reach him through his Web site: www.TomReillyTraining.com.

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