Can Wearing Black Really Give You A Sales Edge

On Saturday, after the third round of the Masters, Phil Mickelson told a CBS interviewer that he’d be wearing black on Sunday. When asked why, he said:

It helps me get more aggressive. Studies have shown that when NFL teams wear black they have more penalties.

Turns out, he’s right. Here’s the link to the actual research done by two Cornell professors in 1988.
Arm-wrestling
But what does this have to do with sales? And why in the world would you want to be more “aggressive” — especially when no one likes pushy salespeople?

The truth is, aggressive doesn’t always mean hostile. Mickelson certainly wasn’t thinking about punching Jordan Spieth in the nose or throwing his club into the crowd after a bad shot.

Instead, he wanted to play boldly, with lots of initiative in the energetic pursuit of his goal. Timidity was not an option for him.

Black Makes You Bolder

Cornell’s research shows that one reason players wearing black uniforms get more penalties is because they seek out more opportunities to be aggressive. Much of that has to do with self-perception. Players feel that they need to step up and act more formidable when they wear black uniforms.

Timidity doesn’t work in sales either. Yet, I have to admit that I feel that way sometimes — and it’s totally related to self perception.

I’ve hesitated to initiate contact with senior executives because they intimidated me. I’ve waited an eternity to call people back because I’m scared they’ll say no. I’ve been afraid to raise my prices because prospects might not want to pay more. I’ve agonized over narrowing my target market, fearful that I’ll lose an opportunity.

I don’t like feeling that way, but I think it’s normal. Maybe I should have worn more black clothes.

Boldness Leads to a Sales Edge

My only saving grace was that I finally kicked my own butt. I took action, even though I wasn’t feeling strong, aggressive or bold. And I discovered that I didn’t die when I did it.

On the contrary. I became stronger each time I stepped into my fears — and more aggressive, in a nice sort of way. I think it’s all about forward progress.

However, I can also assure you that if I ever get into a Masters of Sales Tournament, I’ll be wearing a black power suit. If it gives me a competitive sales edge, I’m all for it!

Jill Konrath

Jill Konrath is also a frequent speaker at sales conferences and kick-off meetings. Sharing her fresh sales strategies, she helps salespeople to speed up new customer acquisition and win bigger contracts. Her clients include IBM, GE, Microsoft, Wells Fargo, Staples and numerous mid-market firms. Author Jill is the author of three bestselling, award-winning books. Her newest book, Agile Selling shows salespeople how to succeed in a constantly changing sales world. SNAP Selling focuses on what it takes to win sales with today’s crazy-busy buyers. And Selling to Big Companies provides step-by-step guidance on setting up meetings with corporate decision makers. Thought Leader As a business-to-business sales expert, Jill’s ideas and insights are ubiquitous in multiple forums, both on and offline. ◾Widely read. Jill’s newsletters are read by 125,000+ sellers worldwide. Her popular blog has been syndicated on numerous business and sales websites. ◾Sales Fellow. In 2014, Jill was honored to be selected as a Sales in Residence at HubSpot Sidekick, providing insights, guidance and direction to the new Sidekick offering. ◾Accomplished. Jill has been recognized for many achievements. Most recently, InsideView named her to their list of the 25 Influential Leaders in Sales for the third consecutive year in 2013, and she was named to the Sales Lead Management Association's lists of the 50 Most Influential People in Sales Lead Management in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. She has also won many other awards. To learn more about Jill, you can read about her professional background, personal insights and sales philosophy. Check her out on Wikipedia, and don't forget to connect with her on LinkedIn!

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