You Gotta Look Sharp
SEVERAL YEARS AGO, a woman who sat in one of my image seminars stated she had been passed over for promotions time and time again. Actually, for twelve years, and she never knew why. After listening to me speak about perception and answering the question, “Is your attire congruent with how you desire others to perceive you,” she realized her image was not. So she set out to purchase several new outfits, this time making sure they sent the message of a professional woman who was serious about her career. In a matter of six months, she received that promotion.
She admitted for years, in spite of comments to polish her professional appearance, she refused to believe something so simple could make such a difference in her career. She, like so many others, just wanted to dress how she wanted to dress. She believed appearance didn’t matter much. But, as the years flew by, two questions were presented to her: “Is your attire congruent with how you desire others to perceive you?” and “Does your attire represent your career goals?” She answered “no” to both and decided a costume change was in order.
Prior to this woman’s decision to change, her clothing was not well made, nor did it fit her well. Her hair needed updating and she paid little attention to accessories, like her shoes. Her whole look sent the message of low income, yet on paper, she was well-educated, competent and experienced in her field. She had the attitude that it was too expensive, she didn’t have time, and appearance didn’t matter; after all, she had years of experience. Yet she, like so many others who think this way, spent years not making the money she should have.
Careers, especially in the sales arena, are slowed down or stopped with this attitude. Sales are about building relationships and creating a trust and comfort level so people remember you. Did you know nine out of 10 people dress inappropriately for their jobs? That means, they are wearing clothes that drastically reduces their earning potential and destroys their credibility. Most people spend thousands of dollars on their education and worry about doing it right. They take sales course after sales course, and then they put it all at risk by not thinking about how to dress. In the promotional products industry, distributors spend a lot of time and energy on perfecting skills to set oneself apart from the competition, only to lose out on business by appearing in clothing that is ineffective at portraying a professional appearance.
Dressing professionally is about relating to people with whom you desire to do business. In the sales world, people want to work with others who present themselves professionally, both in their demeanor and how they dress. You will never receive those sales leads if people don’t feel comfortable enough to learn more about you in order to do business with you.
Instead of rejecting this information, look for small things you can improve upon immediately: polished shoes, natural-looking make up, a suitable hairstyle, tailored jackets and pants, and well-manicured nails (for both women and men). It is those subtle details that become powerful sales and income boosters. Research has shown that people who pay attention to their professional attire are regarded more favorably, advance more quickly, have higher earnings and more longevity with a company. Is your professional attire limiting your sales? Go home, look in the mirror and decide for yourself. If necessary, spruce up your wardrobe and experience the difference in how people react to you. Make the necessary changes so you, too, can move ahead and watch those sales leads pour in.
Dawn Waldrop is a national speaker and president of Best Impressions, LLC. She helps companies increase revenues through the image of their employees and coaches professionals on how to present their best image. She is the author of Best Impressions: How To Gain Professionalism, Promotion and Profit. For more information, call (330) 483-0411 or visit www.best-impressions.com.