Not Looking the Part Will Distort Trust Limit Ability to Negotiate

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Look the part to build rapport and trust. What does it mean exactly to “look the part” in your business? Will it help you effectiveness when you negotiate? Looking the part isn’t simply about the clothes you wear or how you look. For your business, it’s about the image you portray in all your collateral marketing as well. Here are a few ways to ensure that you get that opportunity to sit down at the negotiating table to actually present the deal or get the sale:

1. Image matters – if you are in business for yourself, you want to ensure that you always go out into public representing your brand. It’s part of the trust building factor of building relationships with your clients or potential community of clients.

My Think Like A Negotiator positioning’s primary color is blue. I wear blue when I’m out representing my brand. People know that when they see me I will be wearing some shade of blue if I am representing Think Like A Negotiator.

I’m part of a small group of less than 10 women that meets every month to connect and build our businesses. It’s a private meeting and I sometimes show up in a different color than blue. Everyone will ask me “where’s your blue?” They are used to seeing me in it and it has an effect on them when I’m not. Make sure you are cognizant of the effect your image has on the trust you build with your colleagues and clients.

2. Marketing Materials should be current and support your business as a professional – Do you have a photo on your business card from 20 years ago? Did you recently change your hair and no longer look like your marketing materials? Do your marketing materials match or are they a mired of different colors and styles?

Have you ever met someone who hands you a business card and they look nothing like their photo? Have you ever heard a speaker that you didn’t know and when they were introduced they looked nothing like the photo in the program? Looking the part in your marketing materials also goes hand in hand with projecting a level of trust.

When you meet someone who looks nothing like their marketing materials, it immediately takes your level of trust down a notch and you might not hear what the person has to say for the first few sentences because your brain is attempting to process the fact that the person on the card or the program is the same person you are speaking to or hearing speak.

Do you have a website that has one style, a business card with another style, a one sheet or flyer that doesn’t look like the business card?  When it’s all mismatched, the brain has to work hard to make sense out of it.  The time it takes a prospective clients brain to process what they are seeing or receiving may be the difference between signing the client or not.

Make sure your marketing materials look like you today and all coordinate with your brand and image. It builds trust and unconscious rapport.  The person you are speaking with doesn’t have to work so hard to process the differences in mismatched materials giving you the added leverage you need to successfully build those relationships.

Negotiation begins long before you sit down to discuss a deal. Building trust, rapport and proper relationships is a big part of negotiation and that starts with how people perceive you even before they meet you. Ensure you are presenting the best version of yourself, the accurate version of yourself and the version the will help you build the relationship with those right fit clients.

Eldonna Lewis Fernandez
Eldonna Lewis Fernandez
Veteran negotiation and contracts expert Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez, author of “Think Like a Negotiator,” has over 30 years of experience crafting killer deals both stateside and internationally, many in excess of $100 million. She’s currently the CEO of Dynamic Vision International — a specialized consulting and training firm that helps individuals hone negotiation skills — as well as a nationally regarded keynote speaker, session leader and panelist on the Art of Negotiation. Eldonna may be reached online at

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