Bellwether Bill’s Basic Business Bits for March – Your appearance DOES matter!
Many people today claim that personal appearance doesn’t matter in the business world, but I would argue that it does!
When in a sales or business scenarios such as company meetings, conventions, product presentations or networking events, the business people you meet will form their opinion of you within the first 30 to 45 seconds of meeting you. Therefore, your first impression will impact how receptive they are to your product or service.
You may spend hours, days or even months on preparing your product presentation, so why not spend some time on preparing your personal image presentation? It is often distracting when someone is presenting their product or business service when they look like they may have just rolled out of bed.
When someone looks unkempt, poorly groomed or disorderly in their appearance, it detracts from the information they are presenting. People will unconsciously question their professionalism, and may then question the quality of the product or business being presented.
Let’s face it, ALL presentations are in essence sales opportunities, and sales is all about the numbers.
The number of calls, prospects, appointments, presentation opportunities and closings. Any way of improving the odds of making the sale or securing the business relationship is critical. Although your physical appearance won’t insure the sale, it won’t deter from the chances of getting a positive response from the client if you are more professional in your appearance.
While many of us would not be a likely candidate for fashion modeling, we should at least present ourselves in the best manner possible. This often begins with the simplest things we all can do.
Things like pressing your suit, polishing your shoes, ironing your shirt, straightening your tie, combing your hair, keeping your hair trimmed, shaving and/or grooming facial hair, and brushing your teeth all help. Ladies, neat and conservative hair, clothing and make-up are the best choice for business. Although it is said that “sex sells”, wearing provocative or revealing clothing can be a deterrent for the client, and distort their impression of the ladies’ level of professionalism. The best rule of thumb – be conservative. No one will fault you for dressing appropriately, but they will fault you for dressing otherwise.
The point: it is the little things that add up to a professional overall appearance.
One final consideration
Most companies have a dress code or handbook for conduct expectations from sales and management staff who meet with clients. However if you are self-employed or an independent rep, you may not have the same guidelines to work from. I recommend the following tips:
- Look at your industry’s leaders among your peers. How do they present themselves at events, appointments or meetings? A successful competitor is one you should be looking to emulate, and not just in appearance.
- Look at ads in trade journals, vendor videos, and industry-wide advertising to get clues as to what is the best choice for dressing to suit your client base or audience.
- Look at what your successful co-workers are wearing to various events or in website videos that make them look more professional.
All of us need guidance in how to best present ourselves in the business world, and how to be best-received by our clients or prospects in different business settings. Your personal grooming and clothing choices will often dictate how well you are perceived by those you do business with, and ultimately determine your level of success. It also speaks to your level of professionalism and your positive self-image.