TRACKFARE EXPLAINED – NUMBER SEVEN ON THE LIST, APPEARANCE
Consistent sales success is a must for any business. Making the statement is easy – putting that plan into action is the hard part. That’s where TRACKFARE comes into play. Over the coming weeks, we’ll discuss how optimising and improving your business with our fine-tuned method gives you the foundations you need to give you profit, productive sales techniques and above all, prospects.
TRACKFARE cuts through all the waffle-y words and marketing fluff and gets straight the point of what your business needs. An easy to implement, precise method to build up your business to be a long-term success. The first step in a three-part model system designed to enhance your business practices, TRACKFARE explores nine core foundations that you need to utilise to improve your business; bringing in more prospects, converting them to fantastic leads and ultimately increasing existing customer satisfaction.
Over the past weeks, we’ve discussed the more behavioural and method-based ways that you can improve your prospects list with; from knowing more about your customer base to being able to establish a bond of trust with your prospects. We’re sure our previous posts have gotten you thinking about the various ways you can support your business and improve your long-term profits; but now it’s time to look at the more physical ways you can affect how much you impress, interest or involve your prospects.
‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ is one of the oldest proverbs out there; but unfortunately, in today’s competitive world that’s not quite the case. Whether it’s a neat uniform, a professional haircut or just clean, un-creased clothing, how you look can play a bit part in how your prospects first perceive you and your business. Read on to discover how a few simple tweaks to your professional appearance can pay dividends when it comes to expanding your prospects.
Why is my appearance important?
In the business world, there are certain stereotypes of how you’re expected to appear. Luckily, we’re no longer talking about the 1950s ‘business man’ clone with trilby and briefcase, but appearance still does play a part in connecting you to your prospects in more meaningful ways. First impressions often stick, and you want yours to be a positive one in the mind of your potential customer.
Of course, this isn’t just a business thing; people of different subcultures, ages and beliefs choose to dress in certain ways to represent something they believe in or work towards; so why should your business be any different? Whether your business is one person or 1,000, you’re representing your brand and as such the way you look reflects on how that brand is perceived.
It’s not just about dressing sharp and looking the part, however, as we’ve discussed previously you need to have the professionalism and knowledge to back up how you want to be perceived. It’s a part of the whole package, and to offer that package you need to be able to meet your potential customer’s expectations of looks and smarts.
In the age of digital sales and advertising, let’s not forget about your online presence either. This might be less about having a right look physically, but it does reflect how your customers see you and your business. Pay particular attention to your appearance and behaviour on social media that you’d expect to make connections on; are those snaps of your holiday the best way to reach prospects? Maybe you could turn your attention towards sharing relevant content and showing off professional business photography instead.
First Impressions Count
As we’ve already touched on, in the business world impressions, do count. Professionalism is essential, though it takes many forms; a stuffy formal suit might not match the audience and prospects of an active tech business, whereas you’d look out of place at a pharmaceutical sales meeting in chinos and a casual shirt. Get the lay of the land and understand what your prospects expect, rather than aiming to impress without any solid facts to back you up.
An article by Forbes suggests you’ve only got between 3-5 seconds to make that first impression, and a large part of that is your attire. Forbes suggests consulting a stylist of a personal shopper to formulate the correct look to fit your environment, but you can easily do that part for yourself with a little online research and understanding of your prospects.
Forbes’ article also refers to grooming; another key tip for anyone looking to convey a right message to clients. You don’t need to go out and get a manicure and pedicure, but a neat, professional haircut and clean skin/nails go down well and takes little to no time to maintain.
There’s nothing more daunting than preparing for your first day in a new office and having no clue what to wear. Formal? Smart-Casual? Suits but no ties? This is the way you should feel when you’re meeting and communicating with each prospect. Don’t forget that people are different; and as such will have different perceptions, concepts and notions of how your business should be to win them over to your product and service.
Consistency is still critical, so have a day-to-day ‘office uniform’ that matches the best perception of your business. But don’t make the mistake of going out suited and booted for a round of golf, or meeting your prospects at a black-tie restaurant wearing smart-casual.
Even Mark Twain got in on the act of the importance of clothing, with one of his well-known quotes; “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” Though we can imagine turning up to a prospect meeting naked would certainly make an impression, it absolutely would not be the right one!
A good way to get an understanding of what’s appropriate in your business is to look at the industry around it. Try to get a feel for what other companies are doing and pinpoint if their choice of appearance is working or if a different method might be more successful. Appearance can help you fit into a niche where other businesses have failed, especially when it comes to younger prospects in their 20s and 30s.
How does that make you feel?
According to Business Insider, how we dress doesn’t only affect how other people perceive and remember you, it also has a significant impact on how you feel about yourself. For any sales-based role, confidence is a key aspect, and clothing can help you be that bit more self-assured.
If you want the fancy scientific explanation, Scientists refer to this concept as “enclothed cognition”. A journal by Hajo & Galinsky even goes so far as to say that the clothes you wear are not only physical but highly symbolic, and as such can have a real effect on mood, confidence and self-esteem. Who knew clothes meant so much?
Your clothing isn’t just about impressing your prospects; it’s also about helping you feel confident. Having something that represents you as a person can contribute to achieving that goal. No, we’re not talking about that awful 90s Tweety bird ties or those ‘fun’ patterned socks; that’s certainly not the kind of thing you want to be remembered for! Think timeless and classic, like a good quality watch or well-cut suit that lends you an air of professionalism while still giving a little bit of personality.
The Psychology of Colour
It might sound a bit like the 80s infomercials where women were told they were an ‘Autumn’ after a card was held up to their face, but there’s solid grounding to colour theory. It’s the reason hospital walls are painted that calming blue, and there’s even a lot of theory that goes into the design of company logos and branding, but it’s equally as important to give the right impression with the colours you’re wearing.
According to LifeHacker, there are two broad categories of colour; warm and cool. Warm colours, including yellows, oranges and reds, give a sense of enthusiasm and energy; but can also come across as a bit bright and childlike. Cool colours, like blues and greens, are more calming and professional, with more muted shades and blacks representing formality.
Applying colour theory to clothes is a simple step; an interesting article by Image Doctor, based on colour psychology, points out these tips for dressing for success:
- Dark colours are perceived as more formal, dominant and authoritative
- Light colours make the wearer appear more friendly and approachable
- Some bright colours convey confidence and energy
- Muted colours are conservative and less threatening
- Contrasting colours can also send an individual message. The higher the degree of contrast such as wearing a black suit and white shirt or a navy suit and white shirt can create a compelling image.
Following these tips and tricks, it’s easy to see how you can apply colour theory to your clothing depending on your environment and requirements. Our advice would be to stay away from the brighter colours and skip to something a bit more muted.
With the majority of the world now owning a smart phone, it can feel a bit redundant to wear a watch when you’ve got a digital clock right in your pocket at all times. In fact, there have even been psychological studies into those who wear wristwatches and those who don’t; a study by Ellis and Jenkins found that those who wore watches were more likely to be seen as conscientiousness, and from there more professional.
Also, there’s nothing ruder than pulling your phone out your pocket or bag in the middle of a meeting. Checking your watch suggests you have a good grasp on time and don’t want to waste yours or your prospect’s; whereas looking at your screen could mean anything from checking emails to replying to a text.
Get your ‘work uniform’ on and put your best foot forward; it’s time to try out the ‘A’ in TRACKFARE. Take yourself off to the shops – or take a look online – for a few classic, essential pieces you can wear on a day-to-day basis that will help you exude confidence and professionalism. Tidy your hair, clean your nails and you’ll be well on your way to increase your prospects.
Don’t forget that every letter of TRACKFARE counts, so accompany your polished appearance with some great knowledge and a friendly manner sure to please existing customers and new prospects. There are lots of ways that your appearance can affect your prospect’s perception of you, but having a genuine smile when you’re talking to them can boost your chances.
Can’t wait a whole week for more? If you want to give TRACKFARE a go, we’ve launched a video series covering all nine steps of the model; including invaluable strategies and innovative methods to further develop your prospects and bring you even more profit. There are over 3 hours of content included, stuffed full of tips and tricks to get your business on ‘TRACK’ (get it?). As we always like to remind you, TRACKFARE is what you need to increase your prospects – we’ll help you make sure you’re giving the right message, give you the correct mind set and give your profits a boost in the long-term.