The pandemic, and now the talent wars, have shifted work attire and expectations, resulting in more relaxed workwear. Yet the concept and research around the importance of first impressions remains true—and as outside B2B sellers, we must immediately generate an impression of competence and integrity with clients and prospects. How do we, as leaders, reconcile and lead in this potentially conflicting area?
Why we care:
In recent months, our Senior Consultants have encountered leaders and sellers in several markets taking ‘business casual’ to a whole new level … from ballcaps to wrinkled t-shirts, unkempt hair to flip flops. Ergh!
In general, we hope you agree a lack of polish doesn’t help drive more revenue and may even lack respect for our roles and those we meet with. It can also be the difference between a sale and a fail.
Critiquing a seller’s appearance can be a touchy subject … a better strategy is to outline your expectations with the entire team (before a problem arises).
Clarify as much as possible—does it vary by role or vary by activity such as meeting with clients versus a paperwork day? And an even better strategy is to emulate it yourself, showing you apply expectations fairly and at every level.
Two more thoughts … (whether in-person or virtual) dress for the situation or one level above the person you’re meeting with. And have sellers pay attention to the ‘about us’ page when researching a company. They’ll often find a picture of the ‘team’ and can use it as an indicator of dress expectations.