Amazingly, this can be overlooked - although to do so is the sales killing mistake in my opinion.
You can recover a bad pitch, you can handle objections - but you can't overturn a bad first impression.
At the outset, I want to make it clear that I'm not saying it's important that you wear expensive clothes, watches or jewellery. Not at all. For most people, starting up in new business means that money is tight, so you really shouldn't spend on extravagance.
You can however, make sure that you look professional, confident and trustworthy - 3 qualities that you definitely want to get across to your prospect immediately.
How do you do this?
Dressing according to your industry and your peers
A good rule of thumb is to try to dress appropriately for whatever industry you are in. This can be difficult if you are working as a sales freelancer (you could represent clients in many industries) although you can quickly pick up the kinds of dress that fit well in different sectors.
I remember talking with a consultant who told me that, when he first started working in the planning industry, he paid keen attention to what the company directors in particular were wearing. He then did his absolute best to dress similarly when he met with them, and this decision helped him generate instant rapport.
To them, he looked like a peer, which gave him the time to make his mark.
Try to avoid the 'sales' stereotype
As salespeople, we are often stereotyped as wearing suits with blue shirts and ties. However, if you want to succeed and distinguish yourself, you may find that creating your own style (within certain parameters of course) is a wise move.
After all, you want to be remembered. There are many websites and blogs that discuss this - if you do a 'personal branding' Google search, you should come up with some good ideas.
However you decide to dress, it's important to make sure that you are always neat and tidy when meeting prospects in a face to face meeting. I'm sure all sales professionals have - at some point in their careers - slacked on days spent in the office/at home cold calling.
However, you don't have this luxury if you are selling face to face.
You always need to look your best, and small things matter. For example, you may have noticed a small mark on your suit jacket, but think that no-one else will see it.
You Only Have A Few Seconds, So Make That Impression Count
Think about if from your own point of view - you instantly size up a person when you meet them for the first time, and this is mostly influenced by how they are presented. You only have a few seconds to make that first impression, so make every effort to ensure that you convey your professionalism in your personal presentation.
By Alan MacDougall