Dress Code 101 for Software Sellers…Clean It Up Dude.

Warning – this post is mostly for the fellas.  Fact is, most of us dudes need a lil’ coaching in this department.  In advance, I will go ahead and say, “you’re welcome.”  Here are 10 style tips, in case you didn’t know.

  1. Always ask what dress code is at your client, dress 1 step-up at first, but then match them over time. There is power in this psychology.  One step up is defined as…if customer wears dress pants, no jacket…wear dress pants with a sport coat.  Over time, it’s important to lose the coat as you build credibility and sends them a subconscious message that you’re one of them.
  2. WEAR CLOTHES THAT FIT. Most guys wear sport coats that are over-sized.  Stop it.  Go see the guy at Nordstrom…and take his advice.
  3. Lose the pleather dress shoes. Spend some money here – like at least $400.  Not everyone cares, but the one buyer who does care, they will shallowly lose respect for you.  We don’t need any help with that.
  4. Use situational awareness with your colors. I have an orange sport coat that I love.  If I were going on a sales call to a retailer in NY, perhaps appropriate.  But to wear that coat to an Oil and Gas firm in Houston…well…not so appropriate.  If you’re unsure, stick with blues, blacks, and greys.  Oh, and this one’s for free – if you do sell to a retailer, wear their clothes or at least the brands they carry.  I knew a guy who sold software to a large luxury retailer and he went to a signing meeting and the CEO chastised him for not wearing their clothes!
  5. If you’re meeting the C-suite, and that person is not your coach/sponsor, dress the same as your coach…even if she wears jeans! Nothing will anger your sponsor more when you meet the brass and you put on your Burberry tie to impress.  Not impressive.  It’s arrogant and rude.  Talk about this with your sponsor in advance of this meeting and it will add miles to your relationship.
  6. Iron up. Yep…had to say that.
  7. Coach your company’s employees on what to wear. They will appreciate that.  If you’re inviting your company’s CEO to a meeting, tell him/her what to wear.  Power dressing of the 80’s and 90’s is long gone…
  8. Wear under-shirts and use anti-perspirant. Sweaty armpits are junior varsity.
  9. Lose the designer crazy socks. They’re too trendy and you look stupid wearing them.
  10. FINALLY, here comes a hot-sports opinion of the day – LOSE THE BEARD. I get it – beards are in, but only with some.  I have a good friend who’s a CIO at a $1B company.  I once asked him how he’d receive a bearded sales guy.  His response?  “I would immediately think he’s an arrogant, unthoughtful punk.”  Not my words…his.  You never know when the smallest thing can set someone off.

Safe is usually best.  Even if you’re like me and fashion-forward, consider following these tips for a bigger W-2.  You’re welcome.

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