Sales is a funny business. It’s unlike any other profession out there in the sense that you will be judged not only on your knowledge of the product, but also, your first impressions. Many times, first impressions are formulated as soon as you walk in the door. Everything from the way you walk to the way you smile.
Imagine every sales call as a first date. You have to be nearly perfect in every way to get that great first impression. That means, yes, appearance matters.
This might be contradictory in our modern society, which is extremely welcoming. We are constantly told that our physical appearance does not matter, and we can do anything in life just by trying our best! While this may work for many professions, sales is an entirely different beast.
So, here are the 5 why appearances DO matter in sales.
First Impressions Are Burned in to People’s Memory
We will use the date analogy here because it works so well. Imagine you are on a first date. You spent hours getting yourself ready. You are looking fantastic. You and your date live on opposite sides of town, so you decide to meet up for dinner at a local Italian restaurant.
As you sit there, you see your date walking up to the table. Hair is a mess, clothes are stained, teeth not brushed, etc.
Now, the person might be the nicest person ever. That person might be a multimillionaire, or might be the hardest working person on the planet who will do whatever it takes to provide for their family.
Unfortunately for that person, your first impression of them will leave a lasting memory, which will really screw up your viewpoint of that person. I doubt you’d even give them a chance.
Sales is the same thing. You might be the best salesperson in the world with the best product for that customer, but if you walk in to their office looking like you just woke up, that client probably won’t even give you a chance. First impressions matter, probably more than you realize.
Your Appearance is your Brand
Sales is often integrated with marketing. It’s a marketers job to promote the brand of the product in an extremely positive way. Think about Apple – when you think of the Apple brand, you think of slim, sleek, clean, and easy-to-use products that are constantly innovating.
Are those buzz words that might be bologna? Possibly, but nobody can doubt that Apple does all they can to keep their brand image as close to the above description as possible. All of their products make an effort to look slim, clean, user-friendly, etc.
Your appearance is basically your own brand. If you come in to work looking like you were out all night partying, your brand will be known as the messy party animal. If you come in to work in a fresh pressed suit with neat hair and shined shoes, your brand will be known as the professional businessperson. Same person, just different branding.
Your Appearance Reflects your Company & Product
As a salesperson, you are basically the face of your company. Everything that you do and every impression you make is a reflection on your company and your product. This is a huge responsibility.
Think back to a time where you had someone AWFUL come out and try to sell you something. It could be a home security rep trying to sell you a package, or it could be a salesperson in your office trying to sell you a copy machine. Regardless of how amazing the product is and how reputable the company is, you probably have a bad taste in your mouth about the entire company from that one individual salesperson.
If you show up to a sales call dressed like you don’t care, the client will assume that your company does not care either. If the client assumes that your company does not care, why would he place his financial trust in it? What if something goes wrong – will the company care?
Yes, this might seem like an exaggeration. But it does happen.
Your Performance will Increase when you Feel Good About Yourself
Think back to college or highs school for a moment. Think about how you would feel in two separate scenarios.
The first scenario is this: you go to class in sweatpants and an old T-Shirt that you wore the day before. You have not worked out in a while. You are probably feeling comfortable and relaxed. Your performance on your test/schoolwork will reflect that. You’ll make simple mistakes and be sloppy.
The second scenario is this: You go to class in a new dress shirt with some nice ironed khaki pants. You just had a workout that morning with a healthy breakfast. You are not as comfortable as the above scenario, but you “feel” much better. You are less prone to make mistakes and have the clarity of mind to perform at your best.
The same scenario applies to sales. You will perform better when you feel better about yourself. I’m not saying you have to be a bodybuilder to succeed in sales, but even a light jog in the morning can do amazing things for your clarity of mind.
People will take you more Seriously
I remember reading about a study that was done involving white lab coats. When someone wears a white lab coat and has a clipboard, they were able to direct people to do things that they would never do under normal circumstances. The rationale is that when you dress up, you will be perceived as coming from a position of authority and leadership, so people are more likely to listen to you and be directed by you.
While this principle is great for sales, it also works in the office too. When you dress nicely and look great, your peers will respect you more and will associate you with coming from a position of power.
Well, there you have it. Business is an odd profession to be in. We are probably one of the few professions where your appearance can make or break a career. Next time you are getting ready for work, make sure your clothes are ironed, your hair is brushed, your shoes are shined, and your car is clean. You’d be amazed at how much it really does matter.
Note: It should be noted here that this article is NOT about being “beautiful vs ugly”. I consider myself to definitely be on the ugly side of the spectrum, but it does not stop me from dressing nicely and keeping myself well-groomed. Nobody is judging on natural looks, but rather, how you carry yourself and how you control the things that are controllable, such as your clothing style.
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