Let’s say you have a client pitch the next day: you’re getting to bed early for enough sleep, you’ve gone over your notes and presentation what feels like a hundred times, and you’ve even written a few jokes to ease the tension in the room. What else do you need to think about now? Why, what you’re going to wear, of course.
In the world of business, first impressions are everything. From your body language to your suit to your haircut, everything you do is being judged by whoever you’re pitching to, so why give them any reason to be unimpressed? Stories of clients being highly distracted during a pitch because the salesperson was wearing too much cologne or didn’t polish their shoes are very common, unfortunate as it is, but that’s simply the way things are when it comes to business.
If you take the necessary time to really think about your appearance during a pitch, then you have every chance of impress your clients and secure a deal. So, what’s most important when it comes to how you’re dressed?
Matching the style of whoever you’re meeting
It’s fair to say that many younger folk have different values when it comes to dressing well. A suit, tie, and slicked-back hair might indicate to others that you’re dressed well, but it may also suggest that you’re overdressed, trying too hard, and appear out of place. You have to consider the environment where you’ll be giving the presentation, as a lot of newer companies and start-ups have employees where dress codes are far more relaxed. These are the types of places where smart-casual is preferred and long hair, beards, tattoos and piercings are perfectly fine!
On the other hand, there are big businesses where tradition still reigns supreme and which have an old-school way of thinking. This means that your suit and tie are definitely a must-have and where you’ll also have to curb your use of slang and informal speech, which might be more appropriate for younger CEOs. If in doubt, you can always call up the front desk of the business and discuss the dress code with the receptionist, so as to find out what’s most suitable to wear.
Consider the location of the pitch
In a similar way to who the meeting is with, which country or state the pitch is taking place is likewise highly important. Dressing customs in Beijing are completely different to Los Angeles, for example, so adopting a “one outfit for all needs” is a bad idea. The climate also plays a big part in what you’ll be wearing, as it’s certainly possible to be stylish, professional and practical in hot weather. If you’re either sweating too much due to heat or absolutely shivering because of the cold, then your head definitely isn’t in the game, so simply dress for the right season and location you’re in.
Little things can go a long way
Dressing for success is very real, but what’s also worth considering are smaller things which make a subtle impact. This can be anything from a well-groomed beard to a perfectly made topknot to the type (and even amount) of perfume or cologne you choose to wear. Clients pick up on these small things and if they like what they see as soon as you enter the room, then you’ve won half the battle before it’s even begun.
Wristwatches, too, are perhaps more vital than you think. Rolexes are considered too much of a power move and over-the-top by some, and a cheap Casio digital watch could be seen as not expensive enough! There is a middle ground, and it’s usually found in luxury brands that aren’t as well-known as they should be, such as Daniel Wellington, MVMT, or even Bremont, which can range in price depending on whether it’s second-hand or brand new. Pick a design based upon your own preferences and tastes, not on how many diamonds it contains or how shiny the watch strap might be.
Think long and hard about hygiene
Seems like a given, but bad breath and body odor will absolutely kill the pitch before you’ve even finished your first sentence. Furthermore, you definitely don’t want to stroll in smelling like an ashtray, so be careful about how many cigarettes you smoke before the pitch – you might not be able to notice it, but others definitely will. Focus intently on your dental hygiene, as it’s virtually impossible to un-notice a piece of spinach wedged in someone’s teeth!
Dress like you
Finally, you should never forget that to be unique and memorable in the business world, then you have to dress in a way that is comfortable and fitting for you. If every man and woman is wearing the same thing, then where’s the individuality? Clothes don’t make the person, but they can help confidence and the way you present yourself. After all, a winning pitch is all about your self-assurance, in addition to strong preparation about the clients themselves and your own business’ history and future plans. In short: be yourself!
The way you dress requires a lot of thought and effort, but in the end, it’s still down to you to deliver a kick-ass pitch and win the clients over! So, now that your plans and your outfit should be ready, are you?
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