How Does Image Affect Your Bottom Line?

By Ellen York

You’re 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.

Many 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.

Total 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 with you?

An 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 to.

  • 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!

Dress Code

  • 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.

Dining/Social Graces

  • 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 professional image.

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 the issue.

  • 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 person.

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!

Read other articles and learn more about Ellen York.

[This article is available at no-cost, on a non-exclusive basis. Contact PR/PR at 407-299-6128 for details and requirements.]

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