Making the Sale: What is Appropriate Women’s Business Attire?

In the world of business, marketing yourself is very important. And we all are guilty of judging a book by the cover.

This is especially true in sales, where you are calling on customers and meeting people in networking situations. Doing sales is like going on a job interview every day, and when  55% of what people think of you is the nonverbal stuff, it’s very important to be wearing the right clothing!

This article is focused on professional attire for women. Because there are so many choices in clothing for women, I believe it is often more difficult to know what is appropriate for women.

Here is a list of various articles, links, photos, powerpoints and “how to’s” that are specifically focused on women’s attire.  If you know someone who just graduated from college and they are selling themselves at an interview with a potential employer, you may want to forward a link to this article.

I firmly believe that if you are in sales (even more than other professions) you have to know the difference between Business Professional Attire and Business Casual Attire.

Here are some good PPT slides with examples of the difference between business professional, business ready, business casual, and “casual casual” with different sections for men and women. Check out both men and women, so you can see the similarities.  With the concept of “business ready”, you can just put on your jacket /blazer (and change shoes if you have open toed sandals) and you’re ready to go in a moment’s notice…without being stuck wearing a suit all day.

The SalesHQ website describes what to wear to match your audience and accessories do’s & don’ts.  Here’s a quick overview of what to wear suits, shoes, jewelry, colors etc.

Business casual might be appropriate for what people are wearing in many companies, but on a sales call to a large company you are in much stronger position if you show up wearing business professional vs business casual.

The difference can be confusing sometimes. There are many fashion examples that might show a woman in business casual and call it business professional, but I believe that they made a mistake.…

Like this example when a women is wearing a bulky red top, with no jacket. If it doesn’t have a jacket over it, so to me she looks like an assistant, not the one in charge.

Compare it to the man who is wearing a suit jacket, shirt and tie (3 layers vs one layer for the woman.) If they both showed up for the same job, he would get the job because he is more professional.

Plus I think that blue, grey or black is better. Red is usually too strong unless you’re going for the close or you know that there will be hecklers in the room and you need more power to keep control of the room. Bright red can be intimidating red.

This infograph shows the right blouse with the suit, but then shows the wrong shirt (v neck, short sleeves) in the next frame. Compare it to the guy’s shirt right next to it. And he will have a tie over the buttoned up shirt. So that is 2 ways that top is wrong for the woman. If it doesn’t compare to showing the same amount of skin as the guys, you won’t be treated with the same respect (or have a change at getting the respect). While you probably won’t take your jacket off, you might. And if you have short sleeves, you won’t be “business ready”.

This visual is pretty good, but again I think he would get the job over the woman. See how she is hiding behind her hair… maybe it should be tied back or at least behind the shoulders.

Also notice how their body language is with their hands & toes. Who is more confident? Who could handle the job?

To me, she is hiding behind her hair (bangs) and her arms… and her feet say “I’m nervous.” Compare his posture to hers, where I think his hands and feet are saying, “No problem, I’ve got this.”

Business professional dress is more formal, more neutral.

What do you think? Do you agree with my examples of business professional and business casual? Do you have website links to add. I’d be interested to see what you think! Please leave a comment below.





Hunting for the Silver Bullet

Find the one tool needed to market a consumer product is like looking for a needle in a haystack.All I need is a logo and a website.

I heard that the other day from a business owner who wants to market a consumer product.

It’s really not one single thing.

Maybe it seems like that. But if you want to find the silver bullet to market a consumer product, you’ll be looking for a needle in a haystack.  And you won’t find that ONE THING.  Because it’s not one thing.

There’s channels of distribution and each stop along the way needs something else, other marketing tools, to help keep the product moving along to the next stop.

Yes, a website helps. And a logo. But that’s just a small part. Only a beginning.

The “yellow brick road” has to have some bricks in it to help them lead the way. It’s not a matter of “build it and they will come.” Most of us are overwhelmed with offers of products, information and services. Trying to find what we really need to solve our problems and improve our lives, well, it’s like looking for the needle in a haystack.

Just throwing your product out there with a logo and a website won’t do it. And you can’t blame the website and or logo from not bringing in the orders.

Market a Consumer Product

There is no one thing that is the answer when it comes to marketing. It’s many things. Over time. Many tools in marketing work together to keep the pipeline full. Repetition. Consistency. And following a step-by-step progression.

What do you really need to launch a new product or a new brand? Businesses with new products often only have a very limited amount of money to spend on marketing. You’ve got to make the right choices, but don’t get hung up on a couple of tools and tactics. Marketing is a process.

And there is no silver bullet.  It’s all your marketing tools pulling together, over time, to help lead and direct your product through the channel of distribution.

Branding and Marketing Plans for 2015 with a Sales Focus

No crystal ball for 2015
No crystal ball for 2015!
Image courtesy bb_matt at Flickr.

I’ve often posted New Year branding and marketing plans, predictions, resolutions or lists:
2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007 – guess I’ve been blogging for a while.

But I’m going to try something different for the 2015 post.

Most of my clients are not looking for marketing, branding or plans. I know that seems unlikely, but actually they are looking for the sales that come as a result of the planning, marketing and branding.

So today, I’m adding tips from a sales perspective that may be helpful for my branding and marketing readers. By reading these tips, it could help improve your business in a number of different areas. To have a look at more, you may want to check out these sales tips from AMP to make your business as successful as possible.

From Julie Wassom, marketing expert specializing in Alpacas and Child Care Centers from “How Trial Closing Questions Can Help You Win the Sale”. Although she’s a marketing expert, she has very practical sales advice to share:

What type of question can help you win the sale? If you said, “asking a final closing question,” you are right. However, there is another type of question that can make it easy for you to increase conversions of prospect inquiries to farm visits and especially farm visits to sales. What is it?

This question is called a trial closing question. While a final closing question requests a commitment to visit or buy, a trial closing question merely requests the prospect’s agreement on a benefit you have just presented. The response you ideally want from the prospect is, “Yes.”

It is a good practice to ask brief trial closing questions throughout a farm visit, immediately following select benefit statements that address that prospect’s expressed needs. For instance, “With this female, you will get the bloodlines you want and your favorite color of fiber.”(This is the benefit statement) “Is this a combination you are looking for?” (That is the trial closing question.)

How can you use of trial closes make it easier for you to win the sale? Using good trial closes throughout your sale calls and visits gives YOU these four things:

Immediate feedback on whether or not the benefit you presented is an important decision factor for the prospective prospect.

“Here you can see how well our animals are cared for, and the types of herd management techniques we teach the buyers of our animals. Is this the kind of support appealing to you?” If the prospect says, “Yes,” you know you are on the right track in your benefit presentation.

Unearths objections early so you can overcome them before they impact the prospect’s decision. Sometimes, breeders just keep talking, not realizing that the prospect did not agree, and has likely stopped listening to you until their disagreement about the previous benefit is addressed. In this case, use Wassom’s Triple A Formula for Handling Objections, and change your direction to present benefit statements that more directly address what this prospect is looking for.

Engages the prospect. Most of today’s prospects prefer interaction WITH you around their alpaca buying decisions versus just an explanation FROM you. By asking trial closing questions throughout the farm visit, you keep them engaged, which means they are really listening to what you say, and your farm’s benefits are presented in shorter bites before they know you will be asking for their agreement or feedback. It keeps them alert and makes the call or visit interactive.

Makes it easier to ask the final closing question. When you have used several trial closing questions during a face-to-face prospect conversation or farm visit (and even a couple on the inquiry -to-visit conversion call), you will likely be doing what I call, “Stringing the Yeses”.

This means you will have gotten a series of “Yes” responses from prospects verbalizing their own agreement to your alpacas meeting their needs and desires. That helps THEM feel more confident in you and your farm as the right place from which to buy. It helps YOU, because it makes it so much easier to ask that prospect to buy animals or book breedings. By responding “Yes” to your trial closing questions, they have already convinced themselves that buying from you is a good decision.

Just before you ask a final closing question, as a trial closing question, such as “Do these seem like animals that would fit well into your herd?” If your prospect agrees and says, “Yes,” it will be easy for you to immediately ask a good final closing question to gain their commitment to buy them.

Practice using good trial closing questions, and watch how they make it easier for you to win the sale!

Julie – thanks for your inspiration for today’s post. I love your way of step by step teaching! Please let me know where I can link to it on the internet, as I found it only via an email.

Researching Household Income for Your Marketing Plan?

census driven income information for your marketing planHaving a tool that allows you to modify the settings can be really helpful.

That’s why I like this interactive map that is driven from data from the US census.

If you are including average household income in your marketing plan and your business is geographically based, you may find this interactive map that uses census data to isolate counties and tracts within the county by income extremely helpful.

It allows you to have a visual analysis of average income which could be a handy tool in creating your marketing program in your business plan.

Narrowing your marketing plan to include visuals of areas of higher income for target advertising

The tool includes the enlarge and reduce map components with the Google guy (the little orange/yellow figure that you can drag into the map to get a visual of walking or driving in the area.)

I could imagine if you were trying to figure out an EDDM mailing or where to open your next store, this could be a real help!

Are You Afraid of the Color RED in Branding?

Do you consider Red a BAD color for branding?

I always have. You know. All those negative connotations:

  • in the red
  • bleeding red
  • red line something
  • seeing red

“Retailers aren’t afraid of the color red in branding.”

I heard this the other day from John Ekman, the Conversionista, at the Conversion Conference.

“Yeah, he’s probably right.” I thought to myself. But then I started noticing how much I see the color red in branding from retailers.  Yeah.  He is definitely right.

Retailers are NOT afraid of the color RED in BRANDING


So if green means go, red must mean ON SALE NOW!

By the way, can you guess which one at the conference is John?