Everyone knows how important first impressions are. Most people—no matter how non-judgemental they are—make a decision about a stranger in the first few seconds with them. That impression is based on a lot of things, but a really big part of it is how the person is dressed. How you’re dressed says a lot about you. It tells people a little about who you are. It also tells people if you’re like them. And in sales meetings, that’s a huge thing to take into consideration.
So how should one dress for a sales meeting? Well, it depends on a whole lot of things. In some situations, you should be very formal. In others, a bit less formal. Its impossible to establish fixes rules, but here are three tips that work in almost all situations.
Tip #1: Dress for success by looking successful
It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing a three-piece suit, or a T-shirt to a meeting. If you want to sell someone, you have to prove that you’re successful: people don’t buy from losers, they buy from winners. That means that if you’re wearing a suit, make sure it’s a good one. If you can’t afford many great suits, buy a great jacket and pair it up with different pants. If you’re wearing a T-shirt to see a client, make sure it’s a trim and high-quality one. Don’t wear the cheapo T-shirt you got for free at that conference you went to in 2005.
Tip #2: Look like you’re taking the prospect seriously
Taking the time to dress well shows a prospect that you cared enough to invest time in them. When possible, give your client the impression that you dressed up a little just for them. Don’t give them the impression that you just went to the local convenience store to get a carton of milk and stopped by to see them on the way back. Caring is a big deal. That could mean throwing in a pocket square on that suit, putting on a classy necklace if you’re a woman, or wearing a T-shirt that shows a logo that’s close to your prospect’s heart.
Tip #3: Look like your prospect
People do business with people who are like them. That means you should look like your client. If you client wears suits, wear a suit. If they wear T-shirts, wear a t-shirt. Showing up in a suit to a casual startup just makes things awkward. Ditto showing up to a meeting with a banking client in shorts and a T-shirt. It’s about making the person you’re with comfortable. They should feel like they’re having a chat with an acquaintance, not being sold something (even though they are).
These tips apply to women and men. Keep them in mind the next time you’re going to visit a client.