Skip to main content

14 Ways To Make The Sale Instead Of Giving It To The Competition Tip 2: Dress The Way You Want To be Perceived

By July 13, 2010June 27th, 2014Marketing Insights & Strategy
14 Ways To Make The Sale Instead Of Giving It To The Competition Tip 2: Dress The Way You Want To be Perceived

Have you qualified your leads so you can choose the ones who are on the same page as you? Whether you’ve done that yet or are still waiting to get through the first meeting before you can make a judgment call, this next tip will ensure that you let prospects know what page you’re on.

Tip #2: Dress The Way You Want To Be Perceived

As a service professional or consultant you are probably independent. You’re your own boss, own your own business and make your own rules. You may work from a home office or do a lot of teleconferencing. Maybe you’re not a suit-and-tie type of guy or a stockings-and-heels type of girl.

And you may live by the mantra that you can’t judge a book by its cover, but the truth is that almost everyone – you included – makes snap judgments about other people based on the way they look. It may not even be entirely conscious, but appearance leaves an impression that can make or break your sale.

There are plenty of studies out there with evidence to show that all things being equal (and sometimes not so equal) attractive people make more money, fit people have better jobs, and well-dressed people are more likely to get that raise.

This is not a lesson in discrimination or a study in psychology, just a reality check. If you look the part and dress the part, you’re more likely to get the part.

Are You Dressed Professionally?

Not everyone can afford a $2,000 suit, but that’s not the point. Don’t confuse well dressed with expensively dressed. Sure, if you’re a multimillionaire consultant then go ahead and look like one. But for everyone else, it’s good enough to look clean, tailored and professional.

That means your clothing is chosen to match the perception that you want people to have of you. If you want to be perceived as a stay-at-home, work out of your basement kind of person, by all means wear a pair of jeans and t-shirt. But if you want to be perceived as a knowledgeable professional, then get yourself some shoe polish and a seamstress who can keep the cuffs of your pants from dragging under your heels.

Are You Dressed The Part?

Depending on your profession, your attire will vary. If you’re a dance instructor meeting with a budding Ginger Rogers, you probably don’t need to show up in a three piece suit. It might actually be more appropriate to wear a suitable dance outfit (without holes in the knees). But if you’re a financial consultant then you want to portray an image that makes people comfortable giving you lots of their money to manage. Which also means no holes in the knees, but probably doesn’t involve leotards, either.

The point is that it’s ok to be flexible, but always look like the person you want to be. When I met with a personal home trainer for the first time, he came in shorts and sneakers ready to show me the ropes (or squats). If he had shown up in a suit or jeans then he probably wouldn’t have gotten the job.

Likewise for the insurance consultant I hired. He showed up in a suit and tie. If he’d come in shorts, jeans or pajamas he probably wouldn’t have gotten the job, either.

Are You Dressed Fashionably?

Ok, we’re not all fashionistas. But you can be dressed perfectly head to toe, clean, professional and tailored, but if you’re wearing a powder blue suit with a paisley tie your prospect will probably spend more time thinking of what to Twitter about you later than actually listening to what you have to say.

You don’t have to look like a runway model fresh off this season’s trends, but you do have to look like you live in the now.

If you aren’t up on your Prada and Dolce, stick to something classic and versatile and please throw out anything you wore in college, unless that was about five minutes ago, even if it still fits.

Are You Groomed?

Yes, your haircut matters. Your makeup matters. Your jewelry matters. It’s all part of the total package. If you show up with a ponytail wearing rubber bands on your wrist, I’ll hire you to do my snow shoveling but not to be my accountant. Sorry! Sounds very un-pc but it’s the truth, and I don’t think I’m alone.

If you want to be a high end consultant you need to look like one. There probably aren’t many billionaires on Wall Street who have shaved their heads and tattooed them with skulls. So leave your nineteen gold necklaces at home, brush your hair and iron your shirt. It matters.

Just remember that first impressions do count, and the most likely impression you’re going to make is visual. If you want people to see you as an educated, intelligent, worthy professional then everything about you should say that, right down to your shoelaces.

Besides, how you look has deep and often subconscious effects on how you perceive yourself. And if you see yourself as a sloppy, haphazard person, you’re more likely to present yourself that way not just in your dress but in your attitude and demeanor.

I’ll leave you with one short story. One day over lunch I asked a colleague how he decided who to do business with. His simple answer? “I look at their shoes.” Turns out that if a person didn’t have polished, professional shoes, my colleague simply decided not to work with them. Nice, clean, neat shoes implied someone who paid attention to detail, the kind of person my colleague could work with. Arbitrary? Maybe. But there’s at least one person out there looking at your shoes.

Think about that next time you’re on your way to a meeting.

How do you convey professionalism in your dress when you meet with clients or prospects?

Read More In The “Make The Sale” Series