This topic can be touchy. Really, who am I to tell you to look your best every day? But if you’re in sales, you really need to bring your “A” game, always. No exceptions. Why? Because you’re setting yourself up as an expert in your field, whatever it is you’re selling, and the public sees you as the expert who will guide them.
Because I work with dealerships, I’ve seen hundreds of salespeople. I have seen the guy with the spilled coffee on his shirt and the guy with the worn-out pants. (I’m not kidding, there were holes in both thighs. I wasn’t sure how his wallet was staying in his pants.) I’ve sat next to the saleslady who wore so much perfume that I had to move away from her.
But I’ve also seen the sales professional who had an extra shirt on a hanger in his vehicle, fresh from the cleaners. His shoes were polished, and he was wearing designer socks. Then there were dozens in the middle. They may have used a dryer to get the wrinkles out, but they were clean, they wore athletic socks on shoes that had never been polished. These salespeople were the middle of the pack in terms of self-presentation.
But Robin, I don’t have a ton of money for clothes!
I hear you! So, let’s look at this and move up from the salesperson with the coffee stains to the next level. Can we do that?
The approximate cost to get your shirts professionally cleaned and pressed is about $2/$3 per shirt. The process is easy. I keep a bag like this, just for shirts to be professionally cleaned, and when I get home and take the shirt off, it goes directly into the bag. If you only have one set of work shirts, then this is the process:
- Shirts in the bag M-T-W
- Drop at cleaners on way to work Thursday
- Shirts in the bag TH-F-S
- Swap shirts (pick up clean and drop off dirty) on Monday morning.
Now, you may have a day off in there somewhere, and you will need to modify this schedule. But if you make this a habit for 30 days, you will see your commissions go up. You will feel more professional, and the customers you deal with will have more confidence in you.
As you begin to see your commissions rise because of your professional appearance, we can move on to the next level.
OK, Robin, now I have a little extra money…
It’s natural to want to sit where you are and not grow into the exceptional salesperson you can be.
But don’t stop here!
So, after you complete 30 days as a new and improved salesperson, BRAVO! Here’s your next step:
THOSE CRAPPY SHOES!
You spend all day on your feet. Why are you wearing horrible shoes?
If you are new to sales and haven’t made a ton of money yet, head over to Goodwill or any nice thrift store, find a good pair of leather shoes that fit you well and are comfortable, buy them, wear them to work for a week. Make sure they will be comfortable enough for you to wear for 10 hours a day. If, after a week, you discover they’ll do the job, find a good shoe repair shop in town and take them in. Get the heel plate replaced. This will cost around $10. Then get them cleaned and polished. If they need new inserts, ask the shoe repair person if they do this, or go to your local drugstore and purchase some that will also cushion your feet. These can run anywhere from $5 to $25.
I recommend black shoes. They will go with most of the slacks you’ll be wearing to work. Remember, these are your budget shoes. In the near future, you’ll be able to afford to buy great shoes brand-new.
Get these shoes polished at least once per month. If you know how to do it yourself, schedule a time every month to sit down and do the job. If you have kids at home, this could be some good parent/child learning and bonding time. Teach them to respect their appearance and show them how to clean their shoes, too. Or teach them how to polish your shoes for fifty cents – you’ll have a “win-win” situation. You get polished shoes, they get more allowance.
So now you’re 60 days in. You have professionally cleaned and pressed shirts and fantastic shoes. What’s next?
Now I am Making Some Cheddar
By now, you should be feeling more like a hundred bucks instead of a two-dollar bill, and your commissions should reflect this. So, let’s say you’re spending $50 per month on the cleaners and $10 per month at the shoe shine. Has your commission reflected enough of an increase to cover this? Of course it has.
What do your work slacks look like? Get them all out of your closet and take a good look at them.
- Are they stained in any way?
- Is the hem dragged out of them?
- Are they the wrong size?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, please consider replacing them. Once again, if a new pair of slacks is out of your budget, head back to the thrift store and find two pair of slacks that will work for you. If they are too long, get them hemmed for a couple of bucks. Just make sure they fit.
Next, we want these clean and pressed. Now, if you don’t have enough slacks to wear a different pair every day of the week and make a trip to the cleaners on the same schedule as your shirts, then you’ll have to LEARN to use an iron. Your pants or slacks must not be wrinkled at this stage of your career. Very soon, you will own 6 pair. You will pop them in the same bag as your shirts, and they will be cleaned and pressed on the same schedule as your shirts. Let this be your wardrobe goal. Maybe you have a friend who has lost/gained weight and has some slacks to give you. Take them and work them into the rotation.
Now you have nice shirts, polished shoes and you’ve pulled the crappy slacks out of rotation. What’s next?
Clean it Up
For the love of all that is good, please shower daily and brush your teeth. I know I shouldn’t have to remind you of this … but I do.
A great smile is mega-valuable. Make sure your teeth are clean and free of any stray food particles before you do your meet-and-greet. Trust me, your clients will notice. If you have gunk in your teeth, what you say won’t matter. They will only see the spinach in your teeth.
People! You represent a multimillion-dollar company, you are helping these consumers with the second-largest purchase most of them will ever make. CHECK YOUR SMILE! It takes only a second, and can make a huge difference.
Next, please smell good, but not too good. Ladies, clean is good, but smelling like you’re headed to the club is a powerful turn-off. Personally, I hate being stuck with anyone who is drenched is fragrance. I can’t imagine being on a test drive with no way to escape the smell. Be mindful in the morning when you’re preparing for your day to take it easy on the scent. I know that I, for one, will be grateful.
Now that you’ve “made it”, consider a nice belt and a handsome watch. Neither of these need to be expensive. Once again, a trip to the thrift store could easily turn up a decent leather belt. The watch you may need to put on your birthday list. These are the accessories which, if you pay attention, you will see top sales professionals wearing. Emulate the successful ones. Look the part before you are successful, and do it on a budget.
I have included some links here where you can find affordable items online. I’d love to see the finished product, so email me some before-and-after shots! I will feature you on one of my upcoming videos.
Robin Wilson is the co-owner of SCP Agency.
She is a self-proclaimed social media guru and specializes in social marketing for auto dealerships. She has also been instrumental in teaching auto dealerships how to market through social media to their existing database and shows them how to make sure that they do not become victims of conquest marketing. She is a marketing coach to all and has become a leader in Facebook marketing strategies in the U.S.