Daily Outfit: 1/11/12

Already Pretty outfit featuring black turtleneck, mustard Anthropologie Field skirt, Falke tights, BCBGeneration Doris boots, knot belt

Black turtleneck sweater, thrifted – similar
Skirt, Anthropologie Field Skirt (no longer available at Anthro) – a few on eBay
Belt – Tom Thomas
Black tights, Pure Matte 100 courtesy Falke
Boots, BCBGeneration Doris (no longer available) – similar
Earrings, a gift – similar

It’s been a week of pitches. Pitching the Strong, Sexy & Stylish event on 1/25 to the press, pitching stories to publications, pitching class ideas and lectures. I am the world’s worst salesperson and feel utterly out of my depth doing all of this. But I wore this today to meet with the director of a community ed program, and the meeting went very well, so I guess I’m not completely inept. Just slightly inept.

And yes, it’s totally snowing. Winter hath returned.

Are any of you natural born salespeople? What specific items or garments help you feel equipped to make your pitches? Any good luck charms?

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  • DeeDee V.

    I make lots of presentations to current and prospective clients. It sounds a little lame, but my wedding ring is literally a touchstone for me. It’s the one thing I wear ALL the time and by touching it I remind myself to breathe, relax, focus. I know my stuff and I know that I can articulate my stuff – sometimes I just need to refocus and remember that.
    It also keeps me from absentmindedley fidgeting and clicking my pen (which is a bad habit of mine when speaking in front of a group.)

  • Kate K

    I’m a horrible salesperson so I have no advice for you. But, I can tell you that you look absolutely fantastic. I usually avoid yellow and brown, especially together but somehow you’ve put them together and created an outfit that I would wear in a heartbeat.

  • you know, what has always worked best for me when selling anything that is MINE – myself (to a grad program), my ideas, my work – is just plain honesty. It’s so simple, it’s a platitude, but for example, when I applied to my doctoral program, I did not come up with an area of focus in my personal statement. Instead, I told them, “I don’t have one. Because I love to learn. All things are interesting to me.” And then I outlined what I’d written my master’s thesis on, and some things I was interested in in the past, but made it clear that I could end up doing anything, that I had no particular plan, but that I knew I belonged in academia because of a fierce love of learning.

    Blunt honesty. I was later told I was the first choice of the entire committee. *shrug* That’s about all I’ve got! I think if you are passionate about what you are doing, all you have to do is be willing to share your passion. It can be a bit vulnerable at times, but I think enthusiasm is contagious. Be open about your passion, about why you think your projects are important, about your desire to help other human beings to accept themselves … I think the rest kind of falls into place.

    • Mel

      So true, Sarah. It’s the honest passion that does it. You don’t have to “sell” anything.

  • Oooh Sally I love this colour combo! I would never have paired mustard yellow with black and brown… must try this – I love my colours as you know!!

    And I too am a terrible salesperson, I really admire those who are (especially if they impress me enough to buy, rather than putting me off)!

    Catherine x
    notdressedaslamb.com

  • This silhouette is so flattering on you! 🙂

  • Amy

    Totally unrelated…Sal, I have that skirt! However, I’ve only figured out a couple ways to wear it…one with a white button down, untucked, big brown belt, boots…the other with a boatneck, blue and ivory striped shirt and boots. Any other tips or ideas? (No black turtleneck in my closet…)

  • Bright yellow is always fun. I am definitely not a good salesperson, and thankfully it really isn’t something I have to do in my job.

  • jayme

    I’m not sure I’m a great salesperson but I think part of the key in a business meeting is knowing what you want and what you want the other person to do. When I have an important conversation coming up, I think about the outcome I want and work the conversation/meeting toward presenting that outcome. Confidence is evident when you know what you want — and a confident sales person can lead a client toward a sale.

    Dressing confidently is also excellent strategy. Perhaps in putting on your planned outfit for the day you can take that time to go over your planned intention. “I am putting on this awesome yellow skirt to pitch my excellent idea to Mr. SoAndSo and after I have told him my awesome idea, he will hire me to do XYZ.”

  • Kenzie

    Every time you wear this skirt I get want a skirt this color more and more but can never seem to find one for a price I want. It’s simple enough, perhaps I’ll just find the right fabric color and make myself one…

    And to answer the question, I’m a terrible salesperson because I hate pushy salespeople myself. They make me very uncomfortable.

  • Gorgeous! What terrific shoulders you have!

  • Amy

    Every time I see you in this skirt I KICK MYSELF for not buying it. Sigh. It’s just perfect. And the styling here is just absolutely wonderful–so simple and crisp. One of my favorites on you (probably because it feels like something I would wear in a heartbeat). Love!

  • This is a gorgeous look, Sal – love the black plus yellow. And the snow!

    I think I am a lousy salesperson, but I am told I can be very persuasive – so I guess I’m a good salesperson after all : >

  • I love this color on you!

  • It’s snowing here too. I’m a great idea person (as you are), but I suspect that many of us bloggers are slightly introverted. So, no, I’m not a salesperson at all. I routinely turn down advertisers who approach me…

  • That skirt is super sunny. My biggest suggestion is to be as prepared as possible. The more familiar you are with exactly what you want to say, the better you’ll be able to explain yourself.

    My next suggestion – don’t psych yourself out. Confidence is key, and coming to someone with your passion and confidence up is going to help.

    And finally don’t be let down if your pitch doesn’t work. There are always new opportunities showing up. You may have needed to not do that one thing to be able to do something else.

  • I am absolutely not a salesperson. And if you’re in that outfit, whatever you’re selling, I’m buying.

  • Sal

    I am taking you ALL with me next time I pitch. You’ll all fit in a briefcase, right?

  • Eleanorjane

    I think listening is a key componant of sales – what does the person want and how can you explains the ways your product or service meets those needs/ desires? (and if it doesn’t they’ll love you being honest and recommending someone else!)

  • I adore this look! Good luck with everything that you are working on!

  • This ensemble is killer! I’m sure you wowed them.

  • These are great tips and, but I want to echo what many have said–this is a really great silhouette on you! You look great in that outfit, Sal.

    I find that listening is as important as talking when selling things. Get to know who you’re pitching and show interest in what THEY do. When talking about sales as relationship building, somebody once told me,”It’s not rocket science. All you need to do is make them like you.” One way to do that is to show them that *you* like them. If someone tells you something about themselves, say, some detail that seems of interest–remember it and bring it up at the next meeting. Also, get to know the person who’s at the front desk or the person who answers the calls. Your call stands a good chance of being put through if that person at the desk thinks highly of how you’ve treated them. Lastly, don’t feel discouraged if your idea or pitch isn’t instantly snatched up in the first meeting. That’s why they call them sales relationships. It takes time to build them.

  • Anne

    Sally I absolutely covet that skirt.

    I definitely paid my dues in retail and as a manager at Macy’s I regularly earned the highest commission check so I guess that qualifies me as a sales person. I’ve also spent much time since then presenting educational proposals to faculty, administration, and even students, I’m going to call that sales experience too. Sartorially speaking I always feel more powerful in a blazer. Cliches are there for a reason I guess.

    My best advice is know your audience. Know their values. Know how your service will make them more efficient, more effective, more in line with what ever their mission is. Most importantly, have conviction that you can back up what ever you’re promising. After reading your blog for the past year you certainly have me convinced.

  • I am a horrible salesperson! I am excited to see the other commenters’ suggestions. I just had to comment so that I could tell you how IN LOVE I am with that outfit! I love the colors, the textures, the silhouette, everything! I am pinning it on Pinterest for future inspiration.

  • Gawd, I love that skirt! Such a great colour and shape – you’re rocking it in this outfit.

    I worked in sales for nearly 15 years, and it was an invaluable training ground for how to work with people. I’ve found that in order to sell anything, you have to sell yourself. Be honest, be sincere, be genuine, be yourself. Never, ever lie. Always sum up what someone’s said to you to make sure you completely understand their needs. Know your bottom line and your customer’s bottom line.

    Good reading on negotiation (but it’s very useful in any aspect of life) is the classic “Getting to Yes” by Fisher and Ury. You can probably find a copy cheap – it’s been around for decades. It’s very eye-opening.

  • That’s an awesome sweater- and thrifted! That would go a long way to making me a bit more confident. I always feel better if I am dressed in something great.

    Marie @ Lemondrop ViNtAge

  • Adrienne

    Sally,
    I was a sales person for 31 years and the population I sold to were children, I
    was a teacher. Sales is talking about what you know, sincerely and very straight forwardly with a smile and being able to handle questions and concerns without getting frustrated. If you can do that then you can be in sales.. I know you probably are a lot better than you give yourself credit.

  • Erika A

    I adore this outfit. Simple, flattering, and very, very sharp looking. I’m going to be emulating this one!

    I don’t know about selling products per se but I’ve done a lot of public speaking about safety topics and it’s basically selling people on an idea rather than a product. I agree with the commenter above who said that you MUST know your audience and have already thought of ways that your mission, your product, or your idea will help them realize their own goals. When people buy in emotionally to what you’re selling, you have a better chance of success. When I’ve spent the time figuring that out (sometimes after the fact) it’s helped.

    Also, genuine enthusiasm. But you have that in spades! 😀

  • Mistie

    You look fantastic! I’m always jealous when you wear that skirt.

    I’m the opposite of a good salesperson. I think I tend to scare people off instead of inviting them in.

  • I am so not a salesperson, so I totally know how you feel. Good luck with everything! I am sure you are knocking it out of the park (even if you don’t feel like it).

    I adore that skirt. The color is perfect! I am also quite smitten with your belt. 🙂

    Have a great day! xoxo
    Eboni

  • Great outfit for a meeting 🙂 Bold, not stern and distinctly personal.

  • Victoria

    Dress in something that is comfortable that also makes you feel strong and confident. Be sure it reflects both your personality and the level of professionalism you bring to the job.

  • Lain

    I am going to be in the minority here, because I am a buyer by profession and I see a lot of sales people… I mean A LOT of them (like 10+ a week).

    You need to put on your A-game and dress way, way, way up to sell.

    I really recommend you get a few very dramatic, edgy suiting-style jackets and wear them with you most prominent, large statement jewelry to sell your business. You are in fashion, so I do not believe a traditional “suit” is required. But, honestly in the outfit you are wearing (which really does flatter you, looks nice and would be a great “work” outfit), I would not buy what you are selling. You need to look like you will bring-it-on! My thought as your potential “buyer” is: “Is this the best thing she has in her entire closet? What am I (the customer) going to see her wear when she does the actual work?” The short, full skirt and turtle neck come off more twee than “I am a fashion expert, buy what I am selling because you gotta have it right now!!!”

    • Sal

      Hmmm. I appreciate where you’re coming from, Lain, but I was meeting with a suburban community ed director. I think if I’d come in wearing a suit jacket and statement jewelry, I would’ve seemed unapproachable and offputting, not to mention overdressed. The audience for this meeting was both the director and her potential audience of adult learning students, and they’re looking for someone to whom they can relate, not a remote fashion expert.

      Plus, I got the gig. 😉

      • Lain

        Congruatulations. A big rule of selling is know the audience, and it sounds like you did know the audience and sold for it.

  • Oh, I LOVE this! I’m studying abroad in Barcelona right now, and this reminds me of the fashion here, with the darker colors and that mustard yellow. Pretty!

  • I love the slim turtleneck with the full skirt! I need to find myself a basic black turtleneck already!

  • Oh goodness, I love this outfit. I’ve been loving combining black and brown, I’m a fan of black turtlenecks in general, brown leather is a serious weakness of mine, and I’m such a fan of mustard this season. I want. To steal. That skirt. 🙂

  • Oh my gosh, Sally, I LOVE this outfit. LOVE. So chic, and fantastically funky. Just perfect.

  • I am so not a natural salesperson (in fact, I am terribly unnatural at the job) but I can be naturally covetous if I see something I like. And this outfit? Well, I kinda want to put it in my pocket and pull it out all day and look at it. It’s gorgeous. As are you. Great job on your successful pitch!

  • Another comment with no sales advice, just a comment telling you how amazingly perfect this outfit is. You wear turtlenecks so beautifully, and it makes me jealous.

    Come to think of it…think of all the women to whom you have sold the concept of a mustard yellow skirt, just by being *you*? You are already a great saleswoman! Go get ’em!

    • Sal

      Robin, you are SO SWEET. Thank you, lady.

  • For business/pitch meetings I have a few things I always keep in mind:
    1) Whatever I’m wearing should not require any adjusting. Bra straps, belts, etc. No fidgeting with the clothing.
    2) I have long hair so I like it to be tucked behind my ears or fashioned in a way that I’m not constantly brushing it out of my face. That’s mentally distracting.
    3) Smile as much as is possible without seeming creepy. No need to force it, just relax your face, breathe, and show some teeth. That combined with eye contact seems to relax and connect everyone in the room.

    I have a hunch you’re better at selling yourself than you think. 😉

  • This color pairing is unexpected—and wonderful!

  • I love love love that skirt! Sarah xxx

  • I’ve got nothing for you regarding being a salesperson, but I’m loving the shape and color mix in this outfit. Brown accents are the perfect way to tone down yellow and black.