When It Comes To Sales, How Important Is Your Look? A Thought Experiment

A good salesperson will tell you they can sell anything with nothing but their wit and a contract.

A great salesperson will tell you the same.

However, more often than not, the great salesperson walks away with a bigger deal than the former, because having the right tools in hand, they can sell better, faster and harder.

Rarely, in my experience, does a salesperson regard their physical sales presentation as any more then the umbrella that sits aloft a cocktail. To them, it’s unnecessary detail - and this is a fatal mistake.

Forward thinking sales organisations use a great presentation to outperform their competitors all the time, because they understand that the right presentation, in the hands of the right sales rep, can lead a three-digit increase in conversion rates.

Those are jaw-dropping statistics, and if you’re feeling a little skeptical (naturally) of this claim - let’s put this into hypothetical practice. After all, to understand your own profession, sometimes you’ll need to step out of it and view it from the perspective of the customer.

As you’ll know, perception is everything.

Let's consider the following scenario: you just hit 170% of your target last quarter, and the boss decided to give you a 10k bonus on top of your already healthy commission cheque, so you decide to seek some advice on investing it in some high-risk, high-reward stocks.

You don't know much about stocks and as such, you meet with three stockbrokers to find out whose advice is likely to yield the best return for you.

Stockbroker A pulls up to the cafe you agreed to meet at in an old Porsche 911, and approaches the cafe donning an immaculately tailored suit. The flash of a genuine gold Rolex refracts the sun on his wrist. He suggests that you invest in ExampleCorp because their share price is going to triple and he only charges 2%.

Stockbroker B pulls up to the cafe you agreed to meet at in a more conservative new black Toyota Camry. Sporting an average pantsuit, she adjust her black-rimmed glasses as she awkwardly approaches you. She suggests that you invest in ExampleCorp because their share price is going to triple and she only charges 2%.

Stockbroker C pulls up to the cafe in a taxi. As he fumbles around in his pocket for the loose change required to give the driver, he inadvertently stumbles on the kerb, and spills the tea from his rusting thermos all over his polyester shirt. Frantically dabbing himself, you notice the scruffy five, no, seven o’clock shadow on his face. He suggests that you invest in ExampleCorp because their share price is going to triple and he only charges 2%.

Based on the information on hand, who do you choose? There is a piece of information that should clearly tip you in favour of one broker over the others.

In all three scenarios, your outcome will be the same - so why does appearance matter?

Everyone's answer may vary, but despite the very personal logic that may come into play when making a decision, there undoubtedly exists one broker you should feel more comfortable with, based on how they present themselves.

And, your sales presentation is no different.

The slides you use to support your sales pitch have an equal, if not greater effect on how your product is perceived, despite the reality. This is especially prudent in industries where there is a low degree of differentiation (insurance and energy) or a high-degree of complexity (IT and telecommunication) in the product.

A poor presentation that struggles to support the salesperson to articulate their key USP's and product advantages, or worse yet, inhibits the communication of this by introducing confusing or irrelevant messages is no different to Stockbroker C.

And nobody picks Stockbroker C.