You Are a Professional. Professionals Work By Appointment.

What do you do when the prospect says, “Just drop by some time”?

professional salespeople work by appointment

Photo by Minerva Studio/dpc

A television salesperson in the Southeast told me not long ago that she had two big struggles:

  1. Getting potential customers to meet with her, and
  2. Time management

As we talked, it became clear that these two issues were intertwined.

I asked me to describe the last few cold calls she’d made, and she told me about two different prospects who told her they couldn’t set an appointment to see her. Both invited her to “just drop by some time”.

The result was easy to predict.

She drove out to both of the businesses, and waited. In one case she gave up after a half hour in the reception room. In the other, the client came out after 10 minutes and apologized — he was too busy to talk to her right then. Perhaps another time.

Each “drop by” required 30 minutes of driving — a 15-minute trip each way. So for these two attempts she spent an hour in the car plus 40 minutes of waiting time. Nearly two hours for… nothing.

I gave her a mantra to repeat: “I am a professional. I work by appointment.”


Why Successful Salespeople Work by Appointment

For most salespeople reading this blog, the compensation plan is commission-based. You get paid when you sell something.

Any work activity that does not actively move you in the direction of a sale is unpaid labor.

Successful salespeople know how much each hour of their time is worth. When they drive across town to see a prospect, they are driving to see someone who has set aside time just for them. They work by appointment only.

An appointment is a specific date and time, blocked out on the prospect’s calendar.  “Just drop by some time between 10 and 3” is not an appointment.


The Four Steps to Setting a Successful Appointment

Step 1: Agree on a specific date, time and location. No fudging allowed on this — you and the client must concur on exactly where to be, when, and for how long.

Step 2: Send a reminder in advance. One sentence is fine: “Jim, I’m looking forward to meeting with you next Tuesday at 2:30pm at your Vine Street store.” An email will work, but a handwritten note, sent snail-mail, is even better.

Step 3: Call to confirm on the day of the meeting. Things happen, and good people sometimes forget to look at their calendars. A phone call can be the difference between a productive meeting and a wasted trip across town.

Step 4: Arrive on time. No excuses.

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The Fifteen Minute Rule

Sometimes you can follow all four of the above steps and still wind up cooling your heels in a reception room. If that happens, follow the Fifteen Minute Rule:

If the client has not come out within 15 minutes of the scheduled time, leave.

Ask the receptionist to tell the client that you have another meeting to get to and will need to reschedule. Then take your things and vamoose. Do this even if you have nothing on your calendar and nowhere you have to be.

If you sell on commission, your time has value. Prospects won’t respect your time unless you do. You are a professional — work by appointment.

Question: What’s your best tip for making sure you have productive meetings? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


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