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What to Wear When Pitching to Client

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 20 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Client Sale Pitch What To Wear What Not

What you wear to pitch to a client is almost as important as what you say.

The old adage of ‘first impressions count’ is certainly true when you are pitching to a client because they need to see you as part of their team.

It is imperative that you research the company and its culture prior to the pitch and that you are totally clear about the nature of the pitch. You can’t just rock up on the morning, make your presentation and expect to win the business.

Making a good pitch is all about being appropriate – it doesn’t mean that you cannot have any sense of self and be different for every client – but it does mean that, in order to win the business that you are pitching for – you need to know what to wear and what not to wear.

Essentially, when you are pitching to a client, you are playing a character. You are fulfilling a need that the client has and so you need to look the part.

Corporate Pitches

Let’s say that you are a sales person for a commercial office furniture company and you are pitching to an architect’s practice so they will, hopefully, specify your furniture in their design projects. You need to come across as both corporate and creative because you need to understand the markets in which you are operating. You don’t want to look too creative, because that is more the role of the architects and designers you are pitching to, but neither do you want to look so corporate that you don’t appreciate aesthetics.

In this instance, you would want to wear a classic suit with a twist – perhaps a funky brooch, unusual shoes or an on-trend detail in your nail colour, if you are female, or your suit lining or shirt cut if you are male.

Creative Pitches

If you are pitching from a more creative aspect to a corporate company, you need to highlight your creativity. No company wants to see its potential designers turning up looking like a lawyer, but you also don’t want to look so crazy that they can’t relate to you.

Let’s say you are a sales representative for a graphic design studio, pitching for a new logo contract for a banking company. In this instance, you need to look creative so they feel that you can do something that they can’t. Go for a more flamboyant look that is still ‘normal’ – perhaps a more fashionable skirt/top/cords combo, rather than a plain, dark suit.

A Few Ideas

Whatever your role and whatever the pitch, what you wear is important. A good way to be prepared for any occasion is to have one or two suits that are good quality, with plenty of accessories that can be changed depending on the client. That way, you will still have your own style but one which is appropriate to close the deal.

Women can change their hair style, make up and jewellery. A sharp pony tail looks corporate and a chunky ring looks fashionable. Men can add a messenger bag and sneakers for a cool look, or slick back their hair for a corporate look. Both sexes can add a printed tee-shirt under a suit for a creative look or a crisp white shirt. Do make sure that you are clean and well-presented though – always check your buttons, hems and shoes.

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