Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Put your best foot forward

I was asked by my company to contribute to the newsletter with a sales column. So, I started my column: Ask the Sales Guy. Here is my first installment.

I have seen a lot of salespeople. I work with them. I meet with them. I see them at conferences. And there’s one thing that always amazes me. A lot of them don’t seem to really think much about how they appear. Maybe you’ve noticed these people too. Maybe you know one of them (if so, feel free to slide this article onto there desk—I’ll take the heat). Maybe you are one of these people...

You only get one chance to make a first impression, but if you do it right, they’ll never forget you. There are a couple of areas that you and I should look at if we want to set forth the right image as sales people. Here are my top 10 ways to make a lasting, positive first impression.

10) I know a guy that says, “Your breath is your oral handshake.” Your teeth—brush them. Also, floss is your friend. So is mouthwash.

9) For God’s sake, get a decent pair of shoes. Actually, get two—one black and one brown. They should be fashionable (if you’re not sure, ask a woman—she’ll tell you) and comfortable. When you buy them, walk directly over to the belt rack and get a belt that matches the shoes in shine and color. Also, get yourself shoe polish and use it. Your shoes should be shined—always.

8) Dry cleaners. They are the people that clean and press your suits. Find one and use them. Please. Rumpled does not make a fashion statement...actually, itt does, but not the one you want to make.

7) Suits should be wool. And clean. And pressed (see number 8).

6) A word about cologne. You know how people say too much of a good thing is NOT a good thing. This is where that saying began. If their eyes water when you walk through the door, they are not going to be able to see the contract to sign it. They cry, you cry: it’s lose-lose.

5) A word about jewelry. Men should wear a wedding band (if they’re married) and a watch. Women should do the same, and can add a simple necklace and a pair of regular earrings. Smaller is better. Look, if they are thinking about shooting baskets through your earrings, they’re not thinking about the sale.

4) Carry a decent pen. I hate when it’s contract time and people whip out a Bic pen. No offense to huge fans of French writing utensils, but you are asking someone to make an investment with you. Show them how much you appreciate it. If they like the pen, leave it with them.

3) Your hair should be clean. And combed. It may be chic and hip to have that Hollywood bed-head look. But you’re not in Hollywood. And, I hope you’re not in bed (if you are, you have bigger problems than this particular column can help).

2) If you’ve had the same look for ten years (OR MORE!!!) it may be time for an update...

1) Look around you. See who dresses sharply. Ask them where they shop. When it is time to shop, tell the salesperson what you do and the type of clothes for which you are shopping. It amazes me how many guys (sorry, it’s mostly us, though) have no clue how to dress, and don’t think to ask the incredibly well dressed guy in the store for help (I blame the secret gene that also keeps us from pulling over and asking for directions). I recently upgraded my shirts (if they look shabby, they’re smocks for the kids). I took my suits with me to the men’s shop, paired up the new shirts and ties, and walked out knowing everything worked. That’s the kind of thing that builds confidence.

I’m not saying that having the right outfit is going to close the sale for you. But, if you look good, you’re going to feel good, and if you feel good, your clients are going to notice you are confident and sure of yourself. If you are comfortable, they will be too. And let’s face it, isn’t that the first impression you want to make?


The Spaniard said...

Show us some pics of how you look in you new,matching, pressed and fashionable threads

Lets see what you're talking about!

May we refer to you as "ehhh Meeester Blackwell"?

BTW - I have some fashion hang-ups i want to run by you (these do not apply to casual days):

* I only wear white, tab collar dress shirts. White goes with everything.

* I always wear braces (dont ever call them suspenders) whenever i wear a tie. I like to think it makes-up for the white-shirt thing and gives me the ability to accesorize without jewelry

* Cap-toe lace-up and/or cap-toe buckle shoes only - nothing else. Black, high gloss only - no exceptions

do i have issues ?????

FishrCutB8 said...

Issues...we all have issues.

White shirts are okay, but seriously. You can't eat oatmeal for breakfast everyday, can you? Time to get out a little.

Braces are great--good for you for having the courage to wear them. Don't pair them with a bow tie, unless you're in a tux. Come to think of it, don't wear a bow tie unless you're in a tux.

Shoes? You might want to consider buying some POIN-TEE SHOES to broaden your appeal...