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How much sales strategy went into Mark Zuckerberg’s business attire choice when he met with Facebook investors? He wore a black hoodie. Do you think he wondered, “Which hoodie should I wear?” How you dress should be part of your sales strategy.

I went on a sales call with a client. Our prospect is a financial services company. These are conservative people. While they didn’t wear their suit jackets in the meeting, everyone in the room had a tie on. I was in a suit. Before the meeting, I debated whether to wear a pants suit or a skirt suit. I opted for the skirt suit in navy blue since that was more conservative.

What would you have worn? I imagine that depending on your age, you would have made a different choice than I did. If you were a 30-something male, perhaps you would have worn jeans and a sports jacket. If you were a 30-something female, you might have worn slacks, a jacket and open toed shoes.

Just know that your choice of clothes either builds rapport or breaks it. Your sales strategy should include the preparation question, “How should I dress for the meeting so I build rapport with my prospect?” What this means is that people are comfortable with people whom they perceive to be like themselves.

Casual mismatches formal. Older people view appropriate business attire differently than younger people do. Women wearing sleeveless dresses is now acceptable attire for many offices, but still off limits in others.

Did you have a meeting that didn’t go as well as you liked and you realized that you were dressed totally wrong for it?

So next business meeting, you decide what you should wear that signals to your prospect, “I’m like you” and “You can trust me to work with your business.” Remember that navy blue is the color of trust.

It was reported that Zuckerberg once wore pajamas to a meeting with venture capitalists. So maybe he did think about what to wear for his sales call when he opted for a hoodie instead. I can’t be sure. Hoodies might work only if you have a couple of billion dollars.

About Maura Schreier-Fleming

Maura Schreier-Fleming is president of Best@Sellinga sales training and sales consulting company. She works with business and sales professionals to increase sales and earn larger profits. She is the author of Real-World Selling for Out-of-this-World Results and Monday Morning Sales Tips. Maura focuses on sales strategies and tactics that lead to better sales results. She speaks internationally on influence, selling skills, and strategic selling at trade association and sales meetings, demonstrating how her principles can be applied to get results. She successfully worked for over 20 years in the male-dominated oil industry with two major corporations, beginning at Mobil Oil and ending at Chevron Corp. She was Mobil Oil’s first female lubrication engineer in the U.S. and was one of Chevron’s top five salespeople in the U.S. having sold over $9 million annually. Maura writes several columns to share her sales philosophies. She's been quoted in the New York Times, Selling Power, and Entrepreneur.

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