Why You Should Start Growing A Beard Now, Especially Salesmen...

Bearded man with Yellow Jacket and Hat photo by Omar López from Pexels

For years salesmen and some servicemen have been denied the ability to grow a beard. Not that a good portion of them can’t but because the company they work for decided beards made you look unruly, rude, and untrustworthy.

According to LinkedIn, if you want a corporate career of any kind, growing a beard will immediately kill that dream.

Corporations decided a while ago that a beard makes you look lazy. That it's unhygienic, untidy, intimidating, untrustworthy, and a sign of rebellion.

Those days may finally be behind us!

You see, Sarah Mittal, assistant professor of Marketing at St. Edward's, and David H. Silvera, associate professor of Business at University of Texas at San Antonio, conducted five studies to test the "power of the beard." They predicted that the beard would be an advantage in sales and service roles. The studies examined the beard's effect on perception of expertise, trustworthiness, likelihood of sales and service satisfaction. 

If you've ever been in a sales position or really taken a sales class you know that when it comes to sales and service positions showing your expertise and gaining trust with the customer is critical for that sale. Mittal and Silvera found that regardless of the sales industry or context (online or in person) or the salesperson's race or ethnicity, attractiveness or likability, potential buyers view bearded sales personnel as having greater expertise and trustworthiness than their clean-shaven, stubbled and mustached counterparts.

"Our research suggests that those in a sales or service roles, where expertise and trust are crucial to converting sales, would be well-served to grow a beard. Your LinkedIn profile and marketing materials may even benefit from the subtle cue conveyed by donning a beard," Mittal said.

Mittal and Silvera conducted five studies, one of them was conducted on the real world. Using Facebook Ads, the researchers boosted two identical ads, the only difference was whether the image showed a sales representative who was clean shaven or bearded. They found that the bearded version was able to yield a higher click through rate (CTR). The ad's CTR was 2.66% which is considerably higher than industry averages of about 0.71% (industrial services) and 1.04% (technology).

This study seems to be the only study that has focused on the beard's effect in sales and service contexts. They believe that this effect is rooted in evolutionary psychology, which is one of the many biologically informed approaches to the study of humans.

"Beards may go in and out of style in terms of their ability to increase physical attractiveness, but from an evolutionary perspective, they consistently serve as a cue to others about one's masculinity, maturity, resources, competence, leadership, and status," Mittal said. "In sum, the ability to grow a healthy beard inherently signals 'immuno-competence,' and this has downstream effects on the way a bearded individual is evaluated in many facets of life."

Meaning being able to grow a decent beard gives you an edge up in life. People see you as more competent, trustworthy, wise even. Which are often qualities what customers want to see in their sales or service rep.  

"The beard truly seems to send a consistent message about expertise in one's field -- a key driver in sales success. These effects also hold in a service context, where bearded individuals receive higher service satisfaction ratings," Silvera said.

In the end, what all of this study means is that companies have been premature in judging beards. And it now gives you a reason to start growing out that beard of yours, especially if you're in sales or service. Mittal said it best with "Given these findings, corporate policies that currently ban facial hair may think twice; as other facial hair styles did not have a 'negative' effect on trust or expertise, there is only an upside to be gained from allowing individuals to don a well-kept beard."

Not all beards are created equal, so "well-kept beard" means a lot. Simply growing a beard out doesn't mean you're going to get more sales or get better reviews. Your beard needs to look good. You need to put some effort into it and if it doesn't come in that great give it some time. We're sure it'll come in. 

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