Hey, the 80’s called, they want their pleated stone washed dad jeans back.
I thought about something today. My mind wanders, you see. It has been a lifelong condition. What I thought about was this. What would be the goofiest clothing you could wear in front of your client and still close the deal? Really think about it. And if you have the stones, test your theory or challenge a colleague to a contest of creativity and will.
A lot of us really “dress for success” because we believe that it boosts credibility. This builds confidence, lowers fear of rejection and puts the wearer of those fine duds (at least in his or her mind) in a better starting place. We play dress up to go on dates for the same reason. We want to look our best, right? There’s nothing wrong with that. We want our clients to have the best experience that we can create for them. Sometimes a casual approach is best for the client. Other times, a more serious look is better.
But, won’t some people always pull it off a bit better? Someone is always going to be taller, have better shoes, nicer hair, a smaller belt size or more desirable bone structure. Some people are born wealthy, or are naturally smart or talented. Someone will always have the upper hand in some regards and there isn’t a damned thing you can do about it.
However.. In other ways, the ways that count the most, you can outclass your most worthy adversaries. Think about the thing you do best or know most about. This might not be work related, but I’d bet that it’s something you care about. If you’re a great surfer because you love it so much that you’ve worked at it, spending every opportunity in the water, you don’t need the newest and greatest board. You can outsurf the weekend warriors on a yard sale board that’s held together by duct tape. If you’re a great golfer, you can play with borrowed clubs and still hit lasers. You may be growing enough food in your backyard to eat for a year while your neighbors harvest weeds and clip coupons for 2 for 1's on creamed corn and succotash. I’m sure you get the point.
There are some pretty good salespeople out there (By the way, we are all salespeople). I define a great salesperson as not only great at getting the business, but doing it with perfect focus on the client’s need. I consider myself to be in this class of people. So, back to the pleated jeans. I would look and feel pretty dumb in pleated jeans, but I can’t think of a situation in recent history where I wouldn’t have still made the sale wearing them. I have a lot of experience with fashion faux pas according to my wife, so it wouldn’t be as much of stretch for me as it would for most.
You want to be in a position in your career where your expertise is in such demand that the quality of your work can always overcome the distraction of goofy looking pants. This is because your clients and prospects probably have other distractions you’ll have to overcome that you can’t see. It could be a competitor of yours or a false preconception. If you aren’t there, you have to spend time getting there. If you don’t, no clothing budget, fancy watches, euro car leases or anything else done in an effort to make you look like you’re good at your job will help you.