If you're a guy and you're lucky enough to have a caring spouse or girlfriend you won't be offended if she occasionally flicks the lint off your lapel or tightens the knot in your necktie.
But what if your sales manager did that, too?
I'm not recommending it, but management should take keen interest in how its people look in the field, because appearances count. If your team looks better, they'll be more credible and they'll earn more business.
What should your role be in assuring that they look their best?
Here are five tips:
(1) Don't leave appearances to chance; actively manage them. This starts by discussing the look that you expect your people to maintain. Be an example, point out your sartorial choices and what they should signify to clients. Having been a college professor, I was used to a uniform consisting of a navy blazer, gray slacks, loafers, and an Oxford shirt and Ivy League necktie. But one of my clients said financial services types frowned on this outfit, preferring suits, so I bought the best I could find, in London, actually, and I fit right in.
(2) Place mirrors in offices and in the hallway leading to the reception area. No, preening isn't what we're after, but self-awareness is.
(3) Compliment your people when they look sharp. Reinforcement works. Say, "Great tie," and "Sharp suit," and the like.
(4) Don't be reluctant to correct flaws. Have some shoe polish in your desk, the kind that rolls on. Hand it to the person whose shoes are scuffed, and say with a smile, "I expect this back!"
(5) Build a short list of shops that cater to your company's tastes. You might brief them on your requirements, and even arrange special employee pricing. They can encourage the best choices, and everybody wins.
While some of you may feel that clothing is "personal," I agree, completely, when people are off-duty they can look as they please. But when it is working time, dressing the role is job related and definitely the right of the sales manager to manage.
Dr. Gary S. Goodman is the best-selling author of 12 books, over 750 articles, and the creator of numerous audio and video training programs, including "The Law of Large Numbers: How To Make Success Inevitable," published by Nightingale-Conant-a favorite among salespeople and entrepreneurs. For information about booking Gary to speak at your next sales, customer service or management meeting, conference or convention, please address your inquiry to: firstname.lastname@example.org.