Sales tips for the aspiring rock star!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Next Time You Think You Are Dressing For Success . . .

Oh no. Another know it all blogger preaching some dress for success BS we’ve all heard a thousand times . . . think again sista!

Today, we're going to focus on the all too often neglected areas that seem to slip under the proverbial radar.

So, let’s look at the dress for success thing as meaningless if . . .

Your breath is so bad it could start the windmill on an old Dutch painting. Consider becoming one with an Altoid. Especially important if you will be engaging in close quarters combat like riding in a car together or talking close up at an event. Note: if people retract when you talk you may be guilty of “Ass Breath”

Your cologne/perfume arrives 10 minutes before you do and stays thru the new year. I remember when I worked with my Dad making the mistake of bathing in some Emporio. He promptly invited me to “Shower it the hell off”. He felt it was a huge distraction and it wasn’t until I was on the receiving end of an over ambitious cologne enthusiast that I forgave my Dad for being a bit harsh that morning.

Your eyeglasses are so filthy your blue eyes have taken on shades of dirt. There’s actually a simple cure. Pick up a small bottle of eye glass cleaner or wipes that they have designed for cleaning glasses. Keep them in your bag and viola you are ready to combat “Optical Skankosis”!

If your shoes look like you were on a construction site before the meeting. The shoes are by far one of the biggest areas of neglect that I have seen. I’m assuming they are getting dirty between when people leave the house and arrive at appointments but we all know, there are some people that simply neglect shining their shoes. I’ll spare you the common sense moment on why you need to keep up on polishing shoes and focus, instead on how to keep them looking primo! My suggestion would be to carry some liquid shoe polish in your car for those touch ups. It will surprise you how often you will need to use it! For those of you in Metropolitan areas or who find yourself in and out of airports, why not drop the 5 bucks on a shoe shine? Not only do you get some spiffy looking shoes, you get to sit there on that throne like you are the master of the universe. How cool is that?

If you pull out some messy pad that you have to flip through 50 pages of “stuff” to get to a clean page. I won’t lie, this was me, not too long ago. I went out and bought a leather padfolio from Staples and fixed that one real quick. Just when I thought I had it figured out, a multi millionaire client set me straight on something else that was destined for a “Who’d a thunk it?” moment. He sat me down one day and said “Paul (they call me that back home), you wear nice suits, silk ties, monogrammed French cuff shirts, your shoes are always shined and . . . " I stopped him right there and said "Michael, I'm not into dudes" After shaking his head in complete confusion, he continued "then you screw it up by using that 25 cent Bic pen!” Truth be told, I thought he was being snobby until I stepped back, lost my ego and realized that whether or not my pen was indicative of success, it certainly was a distraction. I upgraded to a nice Waterman pen so when I would ask people to sign, it made a better impression.

Fingernails: I’m not talking about manicured, I’m talking about nails that have accumulated enough dirt to fill in a pot hole! Not a bad idea to keep a nail clipper in your trusty bag, unless, of course, you are striving for that “raised by wolves” look.

This next one is tacky so I will avoid all preface and simply “go there”. In the summer months we can really sweat. It takes no rocket scientist to deduct that where there is sweat, there is at least the potential to become what specialists call "the smelly kid" Short of taking a “whore’s bath” in your client’s sink (and risking them calling you “lazy”), look into a travel size Fabreeze. Get in the habit of giving your jacket a quick once over. It kills odors without putting a heavy scent on your clothes.

Gentleman: Always scan your fly for barn doors being open.
Women: Check those buttons on your blouse for potential over exposure and realize that I am demonstrating great restraint right now in an effort to keep this politically correct. I’m only flesh and bones, damnit!

Pop Quiz: You are visiting your prospect/client and are wrapping up a great meeting. They walk you to your car continuing a great conversation. Would the inside or trunk of your car embarrass you? Not to brag, but the inside of my car would never embarrass me, but the empty 7-11 coffee cups and wrapper from my egg sandwich might. The only thing you can do if you screw up is to say the following (word for word) “Mr/Ms Prospect/Client, I’m afraid I can’t let you leave. You’ve seen too much!”

Women (or very feminine men) Going overboard on make up or even not putting it on can be a distraction.

How about your computer bag? Does it look like it was dragged on the back of your car for the better part of the year? Don’t laugh, mine used to. I was clueless until a few of my teammates facilitated an intervention on my behalf. Once again they reminded me how distracting it was for them as well as the clients we visited. You know what gang, I knew better and there was simply no excuse for me to neglect something like that!

Do you show samples? I know in the printing industry, we show them like photos of our summer vacation. Keep in mind that color fades over time and samples can just get plain old tired. I’ve even seen coffee stains, dog eared samples as well as out dated ones to boot!

So here’s the bottom line gang, compliments of my late Dad (he was actually quite punctual but I mean late as in deceased and/or dead)
We all have an important message to deliver that is worthy of our audience’s attention. We can’t afford to have distractions!

And just for the heck of it, I’m wondering if we pay close attention to the details if that in and of itself sends a message? Something to think about while you chew on an Altoid.

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  1. Hi Paul,
    Another great post. Not sure why you skipped the hair...
    The other day, my daughter (junior in college) pointed at a suit with his hair combed up and said, "this is the fourth grade; can we have our haircut back?"
    I can't focus when some guy has his hair twisted, spiked or streaked and he's trying to prove my business will not survive unless I buy his program.
    I believe guys hair should be short and combed over or a nice short flat top...
    And if your stylist or barber has to ask if you want your eyebrows or ears trimmed, nod yes while your texting or emailing on your handheld.

  2. LOL...what a great day to start a snowy morning here in Boston (can I move now please?) Anyway, I have one more for you. Polo shirts with corporate there a bigger way to say I don't care what I look like when I go to work everyday then wearing a shirt given to you by your company to wear at a tradeshow? Or, worse yet, to wear one you got from another vendor at a trade show? C'mon people you can afford your own clothes!

  3. The absolute biggest mistake men make with regards to clothes is FIT. Buy slimmer trousers, more fitted shirts, do some push ups before you go to work and you will feel and look 100x better in no time! :)

  4. @ Mike: Great point about the hair. I fear that a folicly challenged person such as myself commenting on that would be similar to throwing stones in glass house. I do agree with and have seen some crazy, wacky hair "don'ts"

    @ Trish: That one happens quite often and I feel like saying "Come on dude, splurge!"

    @ Andrew Ross: It really doesn't take much time or money to get clothes properly tailored. I think if I did a push up before a meeting I'd have a stroke but all the more incentive for me to get in shape in 2010!

    Mike, Trish and Andrew . . . thank you for stopping by to contribute!

    Rock on!


  5. Great article Paul.
    On the breath thing, I would add, if you are going to lunch with a client avoid Garlicy foods. We were in a booth and there were 4 of us. My client was next to me. I had this big bowl of pasta and the garlic from my plate filled the room. We sat for 30 minutes after eating and though, my client didn't say anything, my wife did when I got home. I see him tomorrow so I didn't completely scare him away.

    Hey Paul, also.. could I repost this on my blog site for job seekers? All this holds true. I'll refer back to your blog. I'll be putting it under IMAGE.

    Bill Morgan
    The Job Swami Career Site

  6. @ Bill Morgan: Fantastic point. Garlic can still come out through our pores the next day. I've also smelled booze on a person's breath the next morning. Great impression, huh?

    Feel free to post it on your blog Bill. I enjoy following your great advice and honored that you would include a post from our sales playbook!

    Thanks for your valuable input!

  7. And toothpicks! Don't forget the toothpicks! I can't stand to see half of someone's sandwich stuck between their teeth when they're talking, laughing or smiling! I keep a little mirror in my desk to check after lunch. It's REALLY distracting! And - once I notice it in someone - it's all I see.

  8. Loved it! reposted it on my blog with all credit to you.....the great one!

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  10. @ Bob: Spot on my friend. In the spirit of a quick rant, I once watched someone in a meeting start picking their teeth and then making a meal of the pickings. File that under "Wo dude!"

    @Anonymous: Thank you!

    Rock horns to you both for stopping by!

  11. @ Dana. I like that story. Imagine if they decide to call on Victoria's Secret :)

    Thanks for contributing!

  12. I started looking at the cars of all prospective salespeople after I found one of my guys was living in his, with two standard poodles. Good thing it was a four door Dodge.

    Great post.


  13. Paul,
    On my last note, it made me think of a good article for your sales blog.

    When taking a client out, what not to eat! Do you have ideas on this?

    The Job Swami Career Site

  14. The one thing that I think was missed. Is the over dressing. I went on sales call with a former coworker and told them this place was really laid back. He came in with a 3 piece suit and our clients were wearing shorts. It was awkward at first but we got over it.

    Also I think age makes a difference I am a young rep and I am almost expected to be a little more casual than an older rep. Which I don't know if the world will change or if I will have to adapt as I get older but who knows.

    Good topic

  15. Paul, you added a smile to my day...once again!! Your tips would actually make for a funny and interesting book on Dressing for Success.
    Thank you for sharing your humor!!

    Enthusiastically -
    Neil Wood
    Hingham, Mass

  16. Good post; to add my 2 cents...I hear that if you don't eat for hours your breath will smell worse than if you just ate. Of course, if you just ate and are meeting a client, you should avoid the garlicy stuff and stick to mild foods (salad, soup, etc.). Brushing is always best, but if you can't, the mints are okay. Although the powerful ones can be a little much, too, okay?

    And don't get me started on the drinking. We're not in an episode of 'Mad Men,' all right?

    Also, I think you meant 'throne' and not 'thrown' :-)

  17. Jim Taylor

    Paul, along the lines of dressing right don't forget the right tie gentlemen. The one you keep in your back seat crumpled up and you throw on before heading to work or an appt looks like you just blew your nose with it. Also, that crazy color or silly theme tie is just that, silly. You prospect might not need to know you like tabasco sauce, cartoons, or the tasmanian devil golfing(mom gave me that one). I had an old guy I was selling tell me strait out after our meeting "you tie is a bit loud son".

  18. Brilliant - as always - Paul.

    I am John A. Hudson and I approve this message.

  19. Thanks for that Paul. I won't re-state what has already been said. Great points and thanks for the reminder to me and the world.

  20. Paul,
    Amazing post!! You captured in the first line what I have exactly thought about this post when I started reading this page. You rock!! keep up the good work in spreading the good tips around.

  21. Okay, we're all on a roll here! It is so important to dress your age. Heavy Chalk stripes,Monograms and french cuffs are excessive on a 23 year old. Regardless if you are male or female, invest a few extra dollars and have your clothing properly tailored. If you're questioning yourself when you look in the mirror, go to a tailor and get a nip tuck. It's all in the details. My latest pet peeve... if you are doing anything that requires you to go near someones face weather it is fitting eyeglasses, anything esthetic, wash your hands well and scrub your nails...equally as important as your breathe. And furthermore... thanks Paul!

  22. Paul

    Another great post well done

    But let’s not forget Nasal hair, maybe not the nicest topic, but blokes have it and they need to deal with it.

  23. Paul,
    Thank you again!
    My issue is when sales people pull out their business card and it is stained and beat up.
    I try to always keep fresh cards with me when going on calls to new clients.

    However, I do use cheap pens. I always seem to leave them or they walk away...


  24. Gentlemen - as 'they' say: 'size matters'. That is, when it comes to the size of your dress shirt collar.

    Can't count the number of guys I've seen with the top collar button undone to compensate (you really don't think the tie will hide that, do you?) or are having trouble breathing and suffering from the dreaded 'neck collar overhang'.

    Look, maybe this is only for men of 'a certain age', but my collar size has gone from a 15 1/2 to a 16 1/2 in the past five or so years. If I didn't keep giving them away to a charitable organization (which I do) and replacing them, then the same people that will notice your shoes aren't shined, the belt and shoes are different colors, the crease in your slacks isn't crisp, your suit jacket doesn't stand a chance of being buttoned in the front, etc., will also notice that you are too cheap to replace your dress shirts because your neck is too fat for it.

    Either that, or my drycleaner has a deal with the shirt guy to slowly cause me to spend more money on new shirts. Can't blame myself now can I????

  25. Paul, I love the and to the point is just my style.

  26. Good afternoon Paul great post, I enjoy having these little rocks of information and comedy hit my inbox.
    My Condolences on the loss of your father, it is amazing the wealth of knowledge that our fathers have giving to us over time and we just do not seem to catch them soon enough. When we do look out it makes you realize that those little rants and raves are a force to be reckoned with and we better learn to use them.
    I agree with you on all the points especially the pen I have been using my blue Waterford pen and after many years of loyal and demanding service the pen finally cracked on me. I was forced to use a company logo’d pen. During a meeting later that day my client leaned over to me and said has the economy hit that bad you had to give up the pen. That night I was at the mall picking out a replacement.

    Michael Grandinetti
    Sunny South Florida

  27. Holy Schnikees gang . . . I really fell behind in responding to your comments.

    Thank you all for the incredible input. You all offered far more than I did in my post so I think I will need to compile all of this into some kind of free PDF after the holidays.

    Meanwhile, please keep the ideas coming and know that I am appreciative of your kind words and contributions

    I have to go trim my nose hairs now :)

    Paul Castain

  28. @ Michael G: Very nice of you to say that, I lost him almost 22 years ago but his lessons and belief in me still resonate as loud today as they did "way back when"

    I won't even tell you how bad my previous pens were. That logo pen would have been an upgrade.

    So I guess people really do judge us with their eyes first, huh gang?

    Rock on my friend!


  29. My brother Michael sent me an email offline reminding me about people with "eye cheese" and then transitioned into the nose pickers who try to play it off as a scratch.

    Well stated Miguel!

  30. Make sure there is nothing in your teeth. Years ago I was meeting with a client and was a little early. I stopped at my favorite bakery and got a cookie with red frosting. Right before I got out of the car I did a quick lip stick check, THANK GOD! and noticed that the frosting stained all of my teeth flaming red. I did get the red off of my teeth, and a layer of tooth enamel, before going into the meeting, but I always check my teeth now.

  31. Paul: This post really supercedes your Elf post from yesterday.

    I am am Altoid fan but they do crud up the teeth. pack a toothbrush with your favorite paste for that almost dentist clean feel on the enamel. It makes the dialogue pure.


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Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics (CGX) one of North America’s leading general commercial printing companies. Paul has over 25 years of sales and sales leadership experience. He has trained, mentored and coached over 3,000 sales and sales leadership professionals. An accomplished public speaker, Paul has delivered numerous key note addresses. He has authored numerous training manuals, articles, blog posts and is currently working on his first book for release in 2011. Feel free to email Paul This has been a paid announcement by the friends of Paul Castain!

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Paul Castain's Sales Play Book is blog dedicated to strengthening our sales game, supporting rock star development and developing jedi like skills. All that is required is a willingness to learn and a sick sense of humor!

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