A word of advice to all of you guys out there working in sales – when you see me coming through the door, just know that I’m not going to get suckered into your ridiculous add-ons. Your extended warranties that will cover me should extraterrestrials declare war on the western half of the United States on a Tuesday in November, and your next-level sound bars and subwoofers that will make me feel like I’m inside Optimus Prime’s shirt pocket, are all just wastes of time with me. I know what I’m here for, so don’t get all used-car-salesman on me. Unless you have a beard. In that case, I’ll probably buy whatever you want, you’re like some beardsman Svengali. And that’s not just me talking, that’s science.
Lookers, a popular UK car retailer, recently published results from an interesting study that seems to prove that that customers are more likely to buy cars from a salesperson that is bearded. Now before you hit the streets to cast your bearded magic onto the general public and try to sell your Garbage Pail Kids from 8th grade for $100 a piece as “Collector’s Items”, it should be noted that customers’ preferences were a bit specific.
According to Lookers’ study, customers were presented with photos of eight salesmen with varying facial hair styles from completely shaven to Gandalf beards. Lookers found that “least likely to appeal to customers were those who were either [completely] shaven or sporting stubble of any kind – designer or otherwise. And at the other end of the scale unruly, unkempt beards… were about as popular as razor burn.” What they did find, however, is that customers gravitated to the salesman with a trimmed and well-kempt beard. The reason? Well Lookers themselves cite that “according to psychologists bearded men are considered ‘more confident and mature’ which can certainly help when discussing the merits of any car.”
It’s not too surprising though, considering famed salesman Billy Mays helped turn OxyClean into an empire, armed with nothing but a blue button-up and a well-groomed beard. But once again the idea of beards and psychology come into play. There is overwhelming evidence that supports the fact that beards augment people’s perceptions of the wearer, and a lot of these augmentations seem to be potentially beneficial in a sales setting.
For example, in the 2011 study entitled “Beards Augment Perceptions of Men’s Age, Social Status, and Aggressiveness, but Not Attractiveness” by Barnaby J. Dixson and Paul L. Vasey, men and women from two different ethnic groups – Europeans from New Zealand, and Polynesians from Somoa – were shown photos of various completely-shaven and bearded men, and asked to report their sentiments regarding things like attractiveness, aggression, and social status. The findings showed that “Women and men from both cultures judge bearded faces to be older and ascribe them higher social status than the same men when [completely] shaven.” This bit of psychological trivia gleans further insight into why customers might be more prone to buy from a bearded salesman – their brains are telling them that the beardsman is of a respectable social status, and is older, and potentially by extension, wiser.
So salesman out there reading this article, if you want to push some paint protection or rust-proofing warranties, consider growing yourself a beard and harnessing the magic.