This blog post contributed by Amber Coan, Fashion design student
8am classes. We are all bound to get one, but most of us don’t love getting up even earlier to get ready. It can be even harder when it’s a Professional Sales class and we have to try to look as good as Mr. Dudkowski, our fearless–and always stylish–leader. Reinforcing our need to be dressed and groomed properly are our multitude of professional visitors who come and speak to us about selling in the real world. Recently, we had Mr. Bob Shannon, a Diagnostics Team Leader at General Electric, explain to us how looking and acting professional influences our job opportunities.
Mr. Shannon first began with his Three “A’s,” Proper Aesthetics, Proper Attire, and Proper Attitude. He explained to us that personal cleanliness and attire is just as significant as having a positive attitude.
For both sexes it is extremely important to know what is considered “proper” when addressing grooming and clothing.
For men: Hair should be cut quite short. One should be clean shaven, or have neatly trimmed facial hair. There should be little to no jewelry, no cologne, and all tattoos should be completely covered. Business Professional attire for men includes: a three piece suit, cuff links, and a tie clip. Business Casual includes: dress pants, a button up shirt with matching tie, sport coat, and dress shoes. Mr. Shannon made it clear that a Polo and Dockers were 100-hundred percent off limits and completely unprofessional.
For women: Pulled back hair if long, or neatly styled if short; either way it should be out of your face. When it comes to jewelry and perfume, less is more! Mr. Shannon told us that he shouldn’t smell you before he sees you. All tattoos should be covered as well. Proper attire for female, business professionals is a suit with closed-toe shoes. Hem lines should be no shorter than the knee, and necklines should cover the chest. Wearing clothes that are too revealing can make potential customers or employers perceive you in the wrong way. Business casual for women includes a non-revealing blouse, dress pants, and closed toe shoes. No jeans, sneakers, flip-flops, or plunging necklines. Accessory-wise, bags should be professional and non-distracting.
Both men and women should carry a notebook into an interview and have a plan before walking in. Bring at least three copies of your resume and a few business cards–and yes, students should have business cards! Also, everyone should refrain from what Mr. Shannon called “Cellphone Suicide.” As important as cell phones are in our lives, it is still considered completely unprofessional and rude to waste your client or future employer’s time while you text. When going into an interview or salespresentation turn your phone off!
Mr. Shannon also wanted to communicate to us the importance of the relationship between the salesperson and the client. Even in failure, that relationship must remain strong; you never know when they might need your services. A good way to form and keep relationships with your sales clients is to be observant, a good listener, and to come in with a plan. Mr. Shannon reiterated what Mr. D has always told his Sales classes; you have to A-S-K to G-E-T. Plan to figure out what exactly the client needs and if that isn’t you or your product, then that is okay. Mr. Shannon specifically said, “Effective salespeople give the client exactly what they want, exactly when they want,” meaning they might not need your business right now but that doesn’t mean they won’t need it later. This is when maintaining a good relationship with your client comes in. Anytime you meet with an interviewer or a potential business associate you should always follow up with a thank you card, even if you fail. Mr. Shannon taught us that a lost sale may be replaced but the relationship we hold with coworkers and clients is invaluable.
Lastly, aside from mere attributes such as looks, intelligence, and innovation, Mr. Shannon believes our personal development in character and integrity is what will stand out from others.
I’d like to formally thank Mr. Bob Shannon for taking time out of his day to give us an outstanding presentation! Thank You!