My Christmas Tie Mistake

Mickey Christmas TieThis morning I had a sales meeting, and before I went I sent out a tweet that said “business casual sales meetings means I get to wear my really cool Christmas ties almost never… I think I’m going to wear them anyway…”

So… I go to my meeting, and the very first thing the man says to me is, “Interesting tie choice. I’m curious as to why you would wear that.  I think perhaps you didn’t think about whether wearing a Christmas tie would bother me.”  I was caught quite off-guard and for a moment thought perhaps he was following me on twitter and was making a joke about my morning comment – but alas he wasn’t.  He was truly upset at my tie choice.

He had a traditionally Jewish sounding last name, but I honestly did not think that anyone, regardless of what they celebrate or don’t celebrate in December would be offended or upset at a Christmas Mickey Mouse tie (actual picture above).  I expressed to this gentleman that I honestly thought it would show my fun side and my holiday spirit, but did not think for a second that it would offend or upset anyone.  We moved on from the tie discussion, although he brought it up at least four more times during our meeting making, “just like your tie choice” comments.

When I wrote this blog post about salespeople protecting their on-line identity, I talked about how you shouldn’t make all of your public rantings and opinions part of the public domain because all of that is fair game in the sales cycle.  Well, in a way, I did that today.  I screamed to the potential client that I celebrated Christmas and was proud of it.

I think that this example points out someone at the extreme, and not the normal mainstream reaction to a Christmas tie.  (although I’d love to hear from all my Jewish friends on your take on this).  Nonetheless, it was a reminder that you need to do your homework, and you need to make sure that you understand your audience.  I took my eye off the ball, and got smacked for it.  This is certainly not as bad as getting caught groping a cardboard cut-out of your boss’ choice for Secretary of State, but it was still bad.

When we express our personal views, they become part of the sales process – for better or for worse.  As small as a comment, tweet, blog post, facebook status update, online photo, email, or other action may seem, it can affect a sale.  My tie choice, affected this sale.  As small as that might seem, it became a factor.

I can guarantee you that my Christmas ties will stay in the closet for sales calls from now on!