Sales Season Part 2: Appearance skills and Body language

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20 January 2017
Written by Speak First Linked-in icon

 ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression’.

How true these well known words are. Because the prospect will in the first instance be ‘buying’ you, it is imperative that the first impression is a favourable one – a glowing list of testimonials will count for nothing if the prospect has not ‘bought’ you!

It should also be emphasised that creating the right impression is an ongoing process. You are trying to establish and maintain a long-term relationship and build a climate of trust and respect. The extent to which you pay attention to the impression you create will serve to either build that relationship or erode it. 

Take careful notes of the following points and reminders:

  • Take time to consider your appearance. What impression are you trying to create?
  • Do not rush this process. Even if you are in a hurry, paying the necessary attention to your appearance will pay dividends
  • Avoid ‘flashiness’ and extreme dress styles. Remember that although people need to warm to you, they should not be so distracted by your appearance that they are detracted from your message
  • Ask for honest feedback from a trusted friend or colleague regarding the appropriateness of your appearance
  • Give attention to the details. For example check for such things as undone blouse or shirt buttons, loose tie knots and scuffed shoes
  • Be sparing with your use of perfumes or aftershaves
  • Create a personal wardrobe with at least two good suits, to minimise wear and tear
  • Be careful with jewellery items. What may be acceptable socially, may work against you in a sales situation; it will draw too much attention towards you and your style and possibly detract from your message
  • Remember: Your smile is your greatest dress accessory!
  • When selecting suits, shirts or blouses etc. try to select colours that match with your natural colouring
  • However expensive your clothes may be they will not work for you if they don’t fit properly; maintain a healthy weight!
  • Always be conscious of your personal hygiene
  • You may look good, but do your business accessories? (E.g. briefcase, laptop holder, bag, folders, paperwork etc)
  • Be punctual. Remember that for a sales meeting, being on time is too late; arrive a few minutes early
  • Can someone write “Please clean me” on your car?
  • Cultivate good poise and posture
  • Ensure your handshake is firm and reassuring
  • Maintain good eye contact but avoid overly long ‘steely’ gazes which may make the prospect feel uncomfortable
  • Apart from being conscious of your own body language signals, take careful note of those exhibited by your prospect. Be careful of labelling one particular signal too early; your prospect may appear to be showing signs of resistance but in reality may simply be sitting in the most comfortable position. Try to evaluate in the overall context of everything else that is happening in the meeting. Be particularly aware though of a sudden change in body language especially if it occurs as the result of a very incisive question
  • Remember that if a verbal and non-verbal message conflict, we tend to believe the non-verbal
  • Of utmost importance is to remember that good appearance skills only complement good selling skills. Good appearance alone cannot totally compensate for inadequate knowledge and/or poor preparation

So, what do you think? Pretty simple stuff that everyone knows - but often forgets - that makes all of the difference. Is there anything you do differently? Or something we've forgotten? Tell us - we're always looking to hear your feedback. 

If this snippet sounds interesting, and you'd like to look into improving your technique further, take a look through our range of sales courses.