If you think it doesn’t matter where you sit on sales appointments, you’re wrong. If you think your customer is always “in charge” & will tell you where to sit, you’re also wrong. Where you sit matters… & you do have a say.
Please note: This is written & intended for selling in North America. We understand different countries & cultures have their own “rules.”
Whenever you are in a selling situation & you sit across from your prospect (as the image shows above) there is a barrier (usually a table) that subconsciously says, “Do you want to fight about it?” This is one barrier that you can & should remove in sales. Our job is hard enough without barriers.
You see it in movies & on TV all the time. The perpetrator is sitting on one side of the table… the D.A. is absolutely drilling him into a confession. You have all seen the 2 sides of a divorce lawsuit. “Her side” on this side of the table with her barracuda of a lawyer… “his side” on that side of the table with his own shark… fighting over who gets the frequent-flier miles. It’s entertaining… in the movies.
In sales, it’s critical to pay attention to your environment. Head on a swivel like a good NHL defenseman…. watching your surroundings. You should take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves. Better stated, you should not put yourself at a disadvantage. Remove the barriers.
Any space (no matter how big or small) creates a barrier in sales – especially when you are across from each other. You have options when it comes to where to sit more times than you think. Do yourself a favor & never sit across from a prospect or customer.
So, where do you sit? Think of the space between you both. If it says, “Let’s fight,” then move.
For one-on-one sales appointments (just you & another person):
- At a round table: You at 12 o’clock & they at 3 or 9 o’clock
- At a square table: You on one side & they next to you (like at a restaurant – you would never sit across from a prospect at lunch or dinner)
- At a conference table: You at the head & they next to you. Or they at the head & you next to them
For sales appointments with more of “them” (just you & 2 of them):
- At a round table: You at 12 o’clock & they at 3 & 9 o’clock
- At a square table: You on one side & they (ideally) across from each other (so you are not across from either one)
- At a conference table: You at the head & they (ideally) across from each other (so you are not across from either one). Or one of them at the head & you & the other next to the head
- At lunch: At a table: Ideally between them. In a booth (remember, you & 2 of them): Ideally across from one & next to the other
For sales appointments with 2 or 3 of you & 2 or 3 of them (multiple people):
- At a round table: Stagger yourselves. Ideally, you never sit next to your colleague. No need to appear to “gang up” on them
- At a square table: Stagger every other one. Again, no need to sit next to your colleague
- At a conference table: Stagger every other one. It’s best to mix & mingle (helps the bonding). Best thing to remember is not to make it look like “all of us” vs. “all of you” (don’t take sides – leave that for the lawyers)
- At lunch: At a table: Stagger the table. In a booth: across from your colleague (next to your prospect)
For sales appointments with a prospect or customer sitting behind her desk (with 2 chairs in front of her desk):
- You have to pick a seat. Pick the one away from the wall. This way if you need to slide around to show her something you can do it with no barrier
Will you “always” get to play choreographer? No. It won’t “always” work out in your favor. But, now that you are conscious of it & paying closer attention you will have more opportunities to do so than you think. If it doesn’t work out, don’t let it ruin your day.
- Remove all barriers
- Sit next to prospects & customers when possible
- No need to sit next to your own colleague (sit across & keep good eye contact)
It’ll make a difference.