Three Times When You Should NOT Look the Prospect in the Eyes

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

Business woman with arms in a crossYou know the critical importance of Eye Contact.  Yes, eye contact plays a vital role in selling as in almost every other area of business and consumer life.  However, in professional sales, there are a few times when you do not want to have that direct eye-to-eye contact with the prospect.

#1 – Demonstrating or Showing a Tangible Product

Whether it is a television, a piece of furniture, a car, a computer screen, a yacht or a jet plane, when you are showing or demonstrating a tangible product, your eyes should be focused on the product, not the prospect.  You should savour the item with your eyes.  As you show the prospect your product, your eyes should relish at the sight of the greatest thing the world has ever seen.  Gaze with loving amazement at your product and the prospect will do the same.

When you concentrate on looking the prospect in the eyes while showing your product, it forces the prospect to look back at you, instead of the merchandise.  Of course, you often glance toward the prospect for confirmation and feedback.  However, concentrate your focus on the item and gaze upon it as if it is the greatest gift to humankind.

#2 – Using a Presentation Book or Multi-Media

The reason you use a presentation book, pictures, or multi-media in a sales interaction is that the combination of stimuli delivers a more effective message.  It is the combination of the prospect hearing your voice in addition to seeing the words in black and white and seeing the pictures that give the presentation power.  During such sales interactions, of course you look the prospect in the eye on and off, but you want to look at the screen or the page to emphasize the main and most important points.  It is good to know your presentation so that you do not have to look at the screen or the pages.  However, when you look at the words, you also direct the prospect to look and digest those words.

#3 – More Than One Sales Person in the Interaction

Whenever there is more than one sales person present during a sales interaction, it is crucial that only the sales person handling the interaction or actually speaking and dealing with the customer be the one who looks the customer in the eyes.

This is a serious mistake many sales management teams make especially when training new sales representatives.  As an example, you have two sales people: one senior who is training the novice.  During the sale, the trainee should focus his or her eyes on the senior sales person and NOT the customer.

When the trainee continually looks toward the prospect, it forces the prospect to look back at the trainee, consequently taking the focus away from the senior sales rep and the presentation.  In addition, the prospect is often looking for some reaction from the rookie who does not yet know exactly how to react.

The trainee or other sales person in the interaction should gaze at the sales rep that is in control or speaking.  This will direct the prospect’s attention and eliminate unwarranted problems.

In your sales interactions, use more than just eye contact—use eye control!

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

450 sales questions free report

Originally published: 12 July, 2011

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