Ditching the Polo Shirt Can Increase Your Sales

 

I needed to get this out there because it's been bugging me for sometime.  What's the deal with sales people wearing polo shirts while visiting net new clients or how about any client?  What the frack is next polo shorts? Just want to clarify that I'm seeing more of this with how men are dressing rather than women.

You're going to visit a net new client, and your wardrobe consists of a polo shirt (some may have a company logo), wrinkled khakis and old worn out loafers? 

Am I past my time because I believe that you should look your best on a sales call?  For me it starts with clean polished shoes, pressed pants, pressed shirt (with collar stays) and a tie when visiting a net new account. I'll be the first to admit that if I'm with an existing client by all means I'm dropping the tie.  Is there a new sales fashion left me behind?

Reasons

I'm going to answer my own question and state "no it hasn't". There's only a few reasons for not wanted to look like a professional when visiting clients.

1) Laziness: Not wanting to take the time to go to the cleaners for pick up or drop off. Today most cleaners offer pick up and delivery services.  Thus the only thing I can think of is laziness.

2) Cheap: They don't want to spend the bucks to have pants pressed along with your shirts.  Yeah, I know it's an extra expense and at times it can run a $100 bucks a month, however I know I'm putting my best foot forward to look good.

3) Don't Care: It's my guess that many reps don't care about the image of the company they are projecting to a net new prospect.

First 5 Minutes

Most buyers are summing you up in the first couple of minutes from the way you groom, the clothes you wear, your shoes (most important) and the way you speak.  I mention the shoes because it's one of the first things I look at when meeting someone in a business meeting.  In most cases shoes can tell the story about whether that person is successful or not. 

I understand times have changed because back in the eighties I was the guy that was going to the office everyday with a three piece suit.  The vest, the jacket, the tie, the slacks it all happened everyday. I may not have known that much about business or selling copiers back in those days but I sure did look like I was successful.  We hear over and over that people do business with people they like. I'm here to tell you that people also like to do business with other people that are successful.  Thus, when you walk in the door well groomed and put together you've earned yourself a some additional minutes in the prospect eyes to sum you up.  Arriving in the polo shirt, pants that aren't pressed and dirty shoes shows the client that you're not a professional at what you do. You won't be taken seriously when other porfessionals are to be considered.

The Kid

Just a quick story about baseball and a kid I knew that had an excellent arm in high school. At the end of his freshman year he was promoted to varsity baseball. He was lean, athletic and had a good arm. Sophomore year, he started varsity, pitched some big games, was hitting 86 on the jugs gun, still lean and mean.  After the sophomore year this kid thought he was gold, stopped working out, gained a some weight. Junior year (this is the year when scouts start coming around), while he still had a good arm and was touching 90 baseball scouts took a look at the kid, saw the weight issue and immediately labeled him as "lazy".  Kid never got drafted because of the scouts first impression of that person.

Dress for Success

Yay, yay it's an old worn out term.  But for those that maybe reading this and those that maybe be wearing those polo shirts and khakis maybe it's time to shake things up.  Maybe it's time to make a statement that you are the professional and you're there to earn there trust and their business.  Do I like getting dressed up everyday? No fracking way, however I do understand that if I want to be successful I need to play the part.

-=Good Selling=-

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grizzlyadams posted:

I feel like many clients are intimidated by someone in a full suit and tie. You want to relate to the customer and I rarely even see ties in the workplace anymore.  Millennials just don’t care about a piece of cloth around your neck. But I’m 30 so obviously there’s a generational thing here too. I do agree with the shoes though, studies show it’s the first thing someone notices about you. I think a nice polo with a company logo shows your part of the team. 

I can agree with not needing the tie & suite jacket with existing accounts.  At least with net new accounts a suit with no tie is still appropriate.  Appreciate the comment .

I feel like many clients are intimidated by someone in a full suit and tie. You want to relate to the customer and I rarely even see ties in the workplace anymore.  Millennials just don’t care about a piece of cloth around your neck. But I’m 30 so obviously there’s a generational thing here too. I do agree with the shoes though, studies show it’s the first thing someone notices about you. I think a nice polo with a company logo shows your part of the team. 

Buttoned down shirt with a tie or jacket says "professional," "consultant," A polo shirt says "peddler" I don't care where you are or what the prospect says. A "peddler" in a suit WILL make people uncomfortable. A professional consultant in a polo shirt will most likely be seen as a peddler. I know I just skewered a lot of sacred cows but I caution you to not discount what I am saying just because you don't like dressing up. Some of the people reading this are better off in a polo shirt because they really are nothing but a peddler.

I've been an outside rep in both office technology and healthcare/IT.  I am 43, so kind of on the cusp of old/new dress code.  I would say to know your audience and where you are.  When I visit Northeast customers/suppliers I dress how you said you do.  I was just in Texas and I wore an untucked polo.  Sounds sloppy to some I guess.... but the rep I was with who wore a jacket was laughed at by the customer and said "why on earth would you wear that here?"  The rest of the night I was the one holding court with the customers and he was isolated...and I'm the junior rep on the trip.  I knew the audience, he didn't.

When I traveled for healthcare I wouldn't wear jackets when in the hospitals but I would when I was offsite with the C suite.  

I guess I adjust to who my target is on that trip/visit.

It's becoming the norm it seems. I wear a polo if I am in the office for the day, but wear a dress shirt for meetings. I have not worn the tie in quite some time unless it was a major account type of deal. I found that most don't care if you wear a tie or not. I had one customer in a corporate office setting see me putting my tie on in my car out his window and when I walked in he told me to take it off and never wear a tie in his office again because it made him uncomfortable because he wore a polo and slacks.

Shoes though have to look good. I'm like you, I notice everyones shoes and also for some reason also notice everyones type of watch (Not sure why that became a thing for me other than I love nice watches). Not that having a timex makes you any less successful that they guy with the Rolex, but it has at times been a nice conversation starter for me with potential clients.  

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