Skip to content

Personal Hygiene for the Modern Sales Professional

March 21, 2009


In the interest of travelling light, I have known committed sales reps to fly overnight with nothing more than a clean shirt and change of underwear crammed in their laptop bag. While such a devotion to minimalist travel is to be commended amongst Tibetan Monks, there are certain social standards that the modern sales representative is expected to live up to.

First off – stay away from hotel toiletries. Complementary shampoo = dandruff. In a 1999 study published by the American Society of Trichologists, hotel shampoo was shown to increase scalpel flaking by 67%. An unexpected correlation was also found between Motel 8 hair conditioner and the early onset of Alzheimer’s.

Based on my own personal experience, complementary hotel razor blades are no better for personal grooming than a Stone Age flint blade. It is rumoured the Holiday Inn purchased its razor blades in bulk from the Soviet army during the break-up of the USSR in 1989. As for toothpaste, I managed to go 2 years without purchasing this $4.99 commodity due to a steady supply of complementary Aqua Fresh from the W Hotel concierge desk. I was forced to give up this act of economic defiance after a supply shortage left me high and dry mouthed; I substituted (badly) with mouth wash and Wrigley’s mint gum. Say cheese.

Toiletries aside, there are still a myriad of social norms waiting to be slobbered on before the sales rep makes it safely home.

I strongly advise against using the bathroom at a client’s office. Like a Swiss train arriving in Zurich at exactly 10.57 am, your client will inevitably be down to greet you just as you return from the reception restroom. Now reach out that moist hand and shake with confidence…

We’re still not done. As you walk towards the meeting room your new prospect, kindly asks “Would you like to use our restroom”. You reply, “No, thank you”. Every time. Regardless of how many cups of complementary coffee you’ve consumed that morning you don’t want to use the restroom. Your trip will be deemed either incriminatingly short or suspiciously long. “My, that was a bit quick – can’t have washed his hands” or worse still “gosh, what was he doing in there?” The Terminator didn’t pee – neither do you.

Next we come to every CEO’s pet peeve – the filthy laptop or portable office biohazard as it’s more commonly known among microbiologists. Who could have invented a better snot collecting device (back illuminated for extra high definition sample viewing) and then recommended it as the focal point of a client presentation. Every time a rookie employee flies the nest for their first client meeting, they will undoubtedly take a visual history or every respiratory infection that’s been hacked onto their screen in the past six months (combined with a treasure trove of lunchtime crumbs wedged in the keyboard). In short, be sure to Windex your laptop and the equipment of any co-worker who steps foot into a meeting with you.

Our hair is shiny, we brushed liberally with real toothpaste and we used the restroom before we got into the rental car…. But wait – our credibility is still at stake. Save that chewed Bic-Biro for your high school creative writing class. In fact jettison the Bic altogether….

Once you progress beyond selling recycled laser printer cartridges it’s generally accepted you’ll bring your own writing paper and a working pen. Mont Blanc says I like to spend my commission checks on après ski; the novelty pen suggests you’re more into meeting a mate than a business partner. And hotel stationary? Did today’s meeting somehow catch you by surprise? Were you minding your own business when you were suddenly whisked half way across America without even the time to grab a pen? Nothing says “spend your department’s annual budget with me” like disposable hotel stationary.

In summary, customers judge quickly, hold yourself to a higher standard. In the eyes of a client hung-over stubble = minibar binge, hotel porn, faked expense reports, not calling your mother at Christmas…at the very least a Closer should only be implicated for sales-related crimes she actually committed.

Stay minty fresh… stay on quota.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 23, 2009 11:56 am

    Well said.. I recently went to a business networking event and was amazed at the variety of smells (not good) I was surrounded by. Great pic too!

  2. April 9, 2009 9:35 pm

    hahaha…good points.

    As far as having gut rot during a sales call, probably the most helpless and hopeless feeling in the world.


  1. Fake Money Blog » Sales stories carnival volume 4

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: