Tuck in your shirt

At the risk of sounding old again, I’m going to rant on another “new way of doing business” topic that has been irking me, and one which I think has implications for salespeople.

I see a lot of entrepreneurs starting companies because I work with all of the investors that fund them:  VC’s and Angel Investors.

What boggles my mind, is that I see decent entrepreneurs who get their big chance to pitch in front of the best VC’s, or give a presentation in front of thousands of people.  Its their chance to make the best impression they can as to why someone should believe in them and why someone might give them millions of dollars.

And… they don’t tuck in their shirt!  Or in general are dressed like a total slob.  Hair unkempt, torn jeans, sandles, sweatshirts, or worse.  Seriously?  Is this “new way of doing business” really professional enough. Am I supposed to believe that you care about your business and your customers when you don’t care enough to comb your hair?  If you can’t put on a pair of pants without holes in them for ME, then how do you present yourself to your customers and prospects?

Am I supposed to believe you are brilliant because you are a slob?

How does this relate to sales?  Sales people that dress and think professional, perform better.  This doesn’t mean three piece suit or even a tie.  A nice pair of pants, and a golf shirt (tucked in) – at least shows that you care enough to be a professional.  Is this “old” thinking?  Perhaps – but since I consistently demolish quota – perhaps there is some logic to it?

My particular sales expertise is for start-ups and if you work in a start-up, you need every bit of professionalism that you can grab.  Already you are at a disadvantage because people are nervous that you will survive, that your product actually does what it says, etc.  Do you need to add another question mark over your head?

Your management should subscribe to this as well.  At one firm I worked at,   I asked my CEO to come to one of my closing meetings at a very large well known brand, and he showed up hair uncombed, wrinkled shirt (untucked), jeans, and flip flops (not even nice sandals).  I don’t think I need to say that this company was not very successful despite the fact that I had lined up some very high profile deals.  Whatever credibility and momentum I had built was quickly erased when my CEO didn’t care enough about the prospect to believe that he needed to make himself presentable.

In general, I believe that salespeople subscribe to this, but I see a trend that will ultimately become an opportunity for the best salespeople.  Be professional.  Dress professional.  You ARE the face of your company to many people.

  • evbart

    I agree, most of the world needs to prescribe to the look good, feel good, do good methodology.

    Things out here in SF are much more casual, so I've bee doing the jeans and sports coat thing (the vc look), and its been working quite well.

    That being said there are many investors that would say they like that the entrepreneur spends more time on their company that on their hair and looks.

    Depends on what stage business you are in, and what types of VCs you are dealing with. As an entrepreneur I'd suggest you do some research ahead of time, and see what your VCs like to wear before you show up in flip flops claiming to be the next Facebook, unless you are the next Facebook….

  • I agree, most of the world needs to prescribe to the look good, feel good, do good methodology.

    Things out here in SF are much more casual, so I've bee doing the jeans and sports coat thing (the vc look), and its been working quite well.

    That being said there are many investors that would say they like that the entrepreneur spends more time on their company that on their hair and looks.

    Depends on what stage business you are in, and what types of VCs you are dealing with. As an entrepreneur I'd suggest you do some research ahead of time, and see what your VCs like to wear before you show up in flip flops claiming to be the next Facebook, unless you are the next Facebook….

  • I wanna re-title this post: “Slobs Need Not Apply”, like the signs that dotted the northeast a century ago to discourage the job-seeking Irish.

    Maybe it's an east-west dichotomy, but I once complained that funding applicants over dress! That 3-piece black suit? Come on! I can tell with one look that you're a flip flops and shorts type! So don't present yourself as someone you aren't!

    So attire can help you or hurt you, but what are the correlates to funding success?
    Based on what I hear and read:

    1. Be a serial entrepreneur. Investors love entrepreneurs who have done it before, even if they weren't successful the last time around. We hope that the lessons you've learned will give you a leg up this time.

    2. Establish trust. But how best to accomplish this? And notice we've just gone from an objective criteria: are you, or are you not, a serial entrepreneur; now here we are dealing with the subjective issue of trust. Add in, the way I understand it, trust is established in as little as 15 seconds! How can you project yourself in a trustworthy manner? This is probably a worthy topic for a post of its own, but since we're dealing with attire: dress appropriately and, to make me happy, no black suits please!

  • I wanna re-title this post: “Slobs Need Not Apply”, like the signs that dotted the northeast a century ago to discourage the job-seeking Irish.

    Maybe it's an east-west dichotomy, but I once complained that funding applicants over dress! That 3-piece black suit? Come on! I can tell with one look that you're a flip flops and shorts type! So don't present yourself as someone you aren't!

    So attire can help you or hurt you, but what are the correlates to funding success?
    Based on what I hear and read:

    1. Be a serial entrepreneur. Investors love entrepreneurs who have done it before, even if they weren't successful the last time around. We hope that the lessons you've learned will give you a leg up this time.

    2. Establish trust. But how best to accomplish this? And notice we've just gone from an objective criteria: are you, or are you not, a serial entrepreneur; now here we are dealing with the subjective issue of trust. Add in, the way I understand it, trust is established in as little as 15 seconds! How can you project yourself in a trustworthy manner? This is probably a worthy topic for a post of its own, but since we're dealing with attire: dress appropriately and, to make me happy, no black suits please!

  • nice post

  • nice post

  • nice post