Dress for Success
First impressions are formed in the first few seconds in a face-to-face meeting. All of us can get into bad habits, or just become plain lazy. Here are a few reminders that may help us differentiate ourselves in prospect meetings.
Most of us have heard that dressing appropriately and being well groomed is important in many business situations, but recent studies have shown that it means much more than that—it means the difference between sealing the deal or not differentiating yourself enough to make a difference.
For males, there are four basic levels of dress: Casual—jeans, casual shoes and shirt; Business Casual—Dockers/slacks, nice shoes and nice shirt; Enhanced Business Casual—same as Business Casual, but with a tie and/or sport coat; and Formal—suit and tie. Ladies follow similar levels, with Formal being a professional business suit or dress possibly with jacket, etc. Ladies have many more potential combinations, but it is safe to say that in most prospect or client meetings, Formal is the best choice.
The basic rule is to be at the prospect’s level or one above. They are making a decision, a very important and personal decision and they want to choose a winner, a professional, and expect no less than that in the services you will be providing.
It is also important to be cognizant of your posture. This gives a first impression too. Good posture has been validated by extensive research to identify you as someone who is credible, with something to say that is worth hearing. If you are asked to be seated, sit straight in the waiting room or lobby, face the door where you think your prospect will appear and avoid any appearance of slouching or excessive casualness. When you arise, stand straight and look directly into the prospect’s eyes for at least three seconds, no more than about five.
Research has found that these few elements are vital when a first impression is being formed.