Can You Have Tattoos And Still Crush It In Sales?

Posted on October 16, 2016

Ryan Stewman



Back in 2012, I decided I was going to see how a childhood fantasy played out. I was going to cover my arm in visible tattoo ink. It was time for me to get a sleeve. My friends and associates ALL told me it was a bad idea. They’d say, “You’re in sales, you have to be clean-cut and tattoo-free,” but I was over it. I was going to do it anyway.

The fact is, I was no longer selling much face-to-face. Matter of fact, even when I worked in a big corporate mortgage office, I didn’t meet clients face-to-face often. Most everything is done online, etc. Plus, a sleeve tattoo can be covered up by a shirt sleeve or a coat. It’s not like I was getting a tattoo on my forehead.

So, I did it. It took forever and it’s still not 100 percent done (are they ever?)

But, I got ink all over my arm from shoulder to wrist.

I can tell you with 100 percent conviction that having tattoos has not cost me money, jobs, or any of that. I’ve still been hired by corporations, high net worth individuals and everything in between. Not one single time has someone hit me with a “tattoo objection” I had to close over.

Matter of fact, most people complain about me cussing—if they complain at all. In the four years of having this tattoo out in my marketing and everything else, I’d say it’s MADE me sales, not cost them.

Look, I’m not saying that having a tattoo makes you a closer. What I’m saying is the guy with bare arms, standing in line, gets ignored. The guy with inked up arms, gets people to say, “Nice tattoo, where did you get it?” and that’s when I start on them.

I’ve recruited more prospects and made more sales from people asking about my arm than I can count.

These days when someone says, “Nice ink, where did you get it?” I take it as a cue to strike up a conversation and meet a new friend/prospect. People know me from it, too. In my penthouse building, they knew me as “the younger guy with the tattoos.” They all recognized me. I stood out.

Isn’t that what sales is all about? Standing out? Getting noticed?

I’ll take any excuse I can to talk to someone. I’ll do anything I can to convert that someone into a prospect, and the prospect into a paying customer. Having a sleeve tattoo has provided me more opportunities to do this than I would have if I were inkless.

Whether or not you have ink on your body, has nothing to do with your influence and communication skills. If you can close, you can close. Ink does not affect that. If you’re in a business that is super uptight and professional, just wear a shirt and jacket (suit) and you don’t have to worry.

When I was on stage at the Exponential Growth Summit and at Funnel Hacking Live I wore a suit. I knew the audience might be a little thrown off by the tattoos, so I just covered them. Those folks who didn’t know me had no idea. They probably thought I was a nice, clean-cut gentleman. I am. But I also happen to be covered in tattoo ink.

Tattoos are a form of expression. They are artwork on a human canvas.

These days, most people don’t even care about tattoos. Think about it, the generation above mine (my parents, etc.) are judgy AF. They didn’t like earrings, tattoos, or any of that. The good news is 99 percent of them are retiring from the marketplace in the next couple of years. Meanwhile people 40 and under rarely judge over ink. Most of us have some.

If you lose a deal and they blame your tattoos, you lost a deal for some other reason, and they used your tattoos as a convenient excuse. If you’re good at sales, ink will only help you make more sales, not hurt you. Ink will become a conversation starter, and oftentimes, something to bond over. Most people from 18-40 have at least one.

So, if you’re thinking you want a tattoo but you’re scared it may hurt you in sales, take it from me: it has only helped me, not hurt me. Becoming a tattooed entrepreneur has been one of my better decisions. If you want it. Get it. That’s what I say.


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