Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dressing for Sales Success: What a Lot of Sales Guys Get Wrong

This is one of my by biggest pet peeves in our current sales world. I want to go through some standard areas of "dress" that a lot of sales guys get wrong. I also don't want anyone to think of me differently because I am addressing this area. I'm no Rico Suave or latte drinker. I am no "fashion" elite, either. I just want everyone to know some of the basic standards when it comes to business attire. I would hate to think that someone would lose a sale or credibility because nobody took the time to teach them about dressing properly.

First off, if you don't know how to dress in business attire, don't get down on yourself too much. There are many salespeople who don't dress correctly and never learn how (I was in this category at one point myself). In addition to using the advice from this article, go out to your local suit & tie store to do some shopping. The salespeople there can teach you all the basics, even if you don’t purchase anything.

One area a lot of guys get wrong is the shoes and socks. I am going to make this real simple. The socks you wear should come real close to matching your pants. It doesn't have to be an exact match, just close (example, do not wear black socks with khaki paints). For shoes, you need a minimum of a pair of brown and black. Black shoes will go with black and charcoal gray paints. Brown shoes will go with pretty much everything else. One final tip in this area, your belt needs to match the color of your shoes (i.e. brown shoes, brown belt).

Never mix black or charcoal colors with navy clothes. I see a lot of sales guys getting this wrong as well. Make an executive decision, and then go with one or the other. Although brown shoes will work with navy, the correct color of shoes is a reddish brown. Wearing a tie & dress shirt with no jacket is also a big problem. I've even seen a tie with a short sleeve shirt (this is even worse!). If you are going to wear a tie, include a suit or sport jacket. I cannot stress this enough. Bottom line: scrap the tie if you don't want to wear a suit or sport jacket.

Do not wear a short sleeve dress shirt with a jacket. If you have to for whatever reason, do not take your jacket off. This should be a no-brainer, but believe it or not I have seen a lot of men do this as well.

One area that is acceptable is wearing a suit jacket with no tie. This is quite popular right now and everyone from the President and on down uses this look.

I hope this helps in correcting some areas of common mistakes. Remember, how you dress does matter in how you are perceived in the business world!


Nesh Thompson said...

Etiquette is still an important thing to consider and it not only depends on how you dress but in how you talk, eat, drink etc.

What I would say is that this is more or less important depending on the type of business that you are doing. I wouldn't power dress in a suit if I was consulting with a home run pottery business nor would I dress casual at the Bar Association yearly ball. However, I agree that if you are going to dress for the part then it should be done properly.

From the Author: Will Fultz said...


That is certainly true. However, I do believe you should dress the best you can when appropriate. Thanks for the comment.

From the Author: Will Fultz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.