I’ve been in some presentations where the presenter makes a fatal error: he or she introduces himself/herself, and then sits at the table with the group to conduct the presentation. Now, this doesn’t always spell gloom and doom for the sale, but one thing I’ve found to be true over the years is that it’s much easier to keep the attention of a group if you’re standing.
I’m short, so I won’t sit for a sales meeting if I can help it. Why? When sitting, we appear smaller, and while your size doesn’t matter all that much in life, appearing to be on a lower visual level than the prospect can have a definite impact on their perception, and it can affect your presentation in other ways as well.
Now, I’m not saying you need to be insecure about your height, weight, shape, age, etc., but rather that you ought to be mindful of how you present yourself. When I was a fledgling broker at a mid-town Manhattan wire house, one of the older brokers who sat nearby used to like to coach the newbies a bit. I don’t recall his name, but I remember that he called himself ‘the Rhino,’ because of his persistence and dramatic sales style. ‘Stand up for a sale,’ he and some of the others would say, and at other times, ‘the Rhino would say, ‘Motion creates emotion.’ He’d have us new guys wave our arms in the air, pace the floor, or even stand on a chair while we pitched a prospect. Now, I’d heard ‘stand up for a sale,’ and used that idea, but at this firm, if a new broker seemed to be lacking energy, a senior broker might even take away his chair.
This might seem a bit cruel, and one poor soul who probably wasn’t ready for a career in sales actually had a bit of a breakdown over this practice, but nevertheless, there was some wisdom in it. Indeed, it’s the very reason I prefer to stand while selling, whether it’s in a board room or on the phone. Most of us think faster when we’re standing. Now, I’m sure there are seasoned sales pros who can do it lying down, and truth be told I’ve closed more than a few deals sitting, reclining, or even while lying in bed with my cell phone, but it’s still easier to think faster on my feet. Particularly if you’re having a slow day or week, you may as well not give yourself the additional challenge of sitting and risking the temptation of getting a little too comfortable to generate the enthusiasm and intensity appropriate for the situation.
Over the years, I experimented with this idea, and I found that I always got more sales while standing… nearly twice as many. At one company, the management got the idea in their heads to forbid salespeople to stand while on the phone. Not surprisingly, sales numbers plummeted. You may not have to stand on your desk or crawl under it with your finger in your ear like the guy from Boiler Room, but especially if you’re new to the game of sales, adding a little drama to your calls may give you the boost that takes you from a good closing ratio to a great one, and in time you’ll be able to do it all lying in a hammock. Until then, though, standing up is a powerful tool, and tools are for using.