How Does Image Affect Your Bottom Line?
By Ellen York
knowledgeable and understand your product or service backwards and
forwards. You’ve practiced your pitch and closing statements, and
have worked on developing key relationships. But at the end of the
month, your sales fall short of your expectations. What is causing
you to lose out on these sales? It could be your image.
companies put thousands of dollars into sales training to pump up
their sales force. They wonder why their projections are falling
short of the company’s goals but don’t realize how much of an
impact image can have on sales.
image plays a huge part in how people are perceived. Unfortunately
brains, skills and talent are not enough anymore. How does your
first impression measure up when meeting with a new or potential
client? Are there distractions about your appearance and mannerisms
that cause people to re-evaluate whether they want to do business
honest self-examination is in order! Here are some tips that will
help you make a lasting and professional impression:
Hygiene and Appearance
Hairstyle – Men need to have an updated hairstyle,
just like women. It may be time to visit a new hair dresser for a
current style and color that will flatter your appearance and create
a more professional look.
Facial Hair – This look can be distracting if you have
a face full of hair. Ask your hair dresser to trim your beard,
mustache and side burns to allow people to see who they’re talking
Perfume/Cologne – Everyone wants to smell good, but no
one wants to be so overpowering that they offend everyone else. A
daily application of deoderent should suffice but if you want to
wear perfume, a small dab at the wrists and neck will be enough. You
never know – a potential client may be allergic to strong scents and
be “repelled” if you wear too much fragrance.
Nails – Beautiful, polished nails can be a wonderful
complement to a professional look. However, nails that are too long,
painted in a bright (or too dark) color, or even those that are
natural but unkempt, can be distracting. Men should also pay close
attention to their nails and keep them short and clean. Women and
men alike can benefit from a manicure. You can’t imagine how many
people notice a set of well-kept hands!
If your company has dressed up or dressed down, you
need to add to or take away clothing that is no longer appropriate
to your job. For instance, in a more creative workplace, suits may
not be necessary; whereas, in a conservative office, suits or
business casual may be required.
Over-dressing can be intimidating to some customers
and clients, while under-dressing (or dressing too casually) is a
faux pas, too! Consider the business appointment and dress
accordingly. If you’re unsure of what to wear, ask a supervisor or
someone who is familiar with the company. Men may keep an extra tie
and jacket in the office, while women might keep a dressy blouse,
jacket and heels, just in case.
Many people are expected to dine with clients but have
no clue that their table manners are destroying their chances of
business with a prospect. Taking a third slurp of coffee or chewing
food and trying to talk at the same time, can really be a turn-off
for other people.
Do you know which fork to use when eating your salad?
It may not seem that important, but if you’re having dinner with a
potential client, you’ll want to be sure of yourself. Sign up for a
table etiquette class. You can find these kinds of classes at a
local community college, hotel or recreation center. Many people
must seek new resources to learn manners that were not taught at
home or in school.
Social skills are very important and appreciated by
your colleagues and managers. Knowing how to introduce people,
learning to successfully “work a room,” how to open doors and help
women on with their coats is only a fraction of good social skills.
Keep up with these skills by reading books on the topic or signing
up for classes, so that it becomes part of maintaining your
New Client Meeting
When you are preparing to meet with a new client, do
some research on their company. Even if your client is allowed to
dress casually in jeans and a polo shirt, don’t assume you should
dress at that level.
Remember: you are representing your company and the
image they expect from you. Dress and act accordingly.
If you dress down to your customer’s dress code, you
won’t be taken nearly as seriously and can possibly lose the sale. A
happy medium can help you seal the deal.
Voice and Body Language
Check your voice. Listen to a voicemail message that
you’ve recorded. If its nasal or too low or too soft, you may want
to seek a professional voice coach or someone who can help address
Many people talk too fast when they’re anxious or
tense. The next time you are in a stressful situation, such as a
meeting with a potential client, listen to your own voice. Practice
talking slower and fully enunciating the words.
Watch yourself for other behaviors, such as a tapping
your fingers or pen, biting your nails, playing with your hair or
crossing your arms, when you are nervous. These habits can be
distracting to a client, which can cause him or her to lose interest
in what you’re saying.
Remember to a smile! People love to see a happy
Today is a great time to start
updating and improving your overall image. Everything under the
umbrella of image adds up to a good first impression. The rewards in
learning these new skills will show in better customer relations,
increased sales, and a happier you!
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