As a professional salesperson, you probably have a few superpowers up your sleeve. Maybe you’re the most persistent woman you know, or you’ve never met a guy with better active listening skills. But there’s one sales superpower you might not have already that you can still learn: the power to leverage and control time.
Sure, you’re not going to find the Infinity Stones and freeze time in place. But by using time as the valuable asset it is, you can quickly start winning more appointments, creating better rapport with your customers, leading conversations more easily and essentially just getting more of everything you want. Sound good? Let’s get started.
Set Appointments Like a Boss
How much time do you really need for a first impression — a chance to scope out whether there’s a genuine opportunity for you and a client to do business together? Probably only 15, 20 or maybe even 30 minutes.
But most people get in trouble when they try to book appointments either on the hour or half past. If someone asked you to meet at 7, chances are you’d look to your schedule to find an hour-long window, regardless of how long the meeting would actually take. Any busy professional will be reluctant to cede that much time to a stranger.
But what if someone said to you, “It’d be great if we could catch up for ten minutes. Why don’t I come see you at ten minutes to six on Friday?” You’d immediately expect a shorter appointment. When you schedule meetings with this level of precision, you convince others that you honor and respect their time just as much as they do.
Give Them the Call They Least Expected
There’s a good chance you’re used to calling your prospect at some point in advance to confirm an appointment they’ve… already confirmed. There’s no reason to do this unless you feel like giving your prospective client a great excuse to cancel.
Instead, phone them on the way to your appointment, about 20 to 30 minutes before it’s set to start. Say, “Hey, I’ve just punched your details into my GPS, and I’m really, really sorry.” They’re probably assuming you’re calling to announce that you’ll be late. At this point, hit them out of the blue with this: “I’m running a bit early. Would you like me to just take some time to myself in the car, or is it okay if I come straight in?”
Not only does this phone call make you look extra prepared, but it reminds them that you’re coming without giving them an opportunity to cancel even if they forgot — since you’re already on your way, it would be pretty rude. It also lets you squeeze in a short conversation to build rapport before you even get to the meeting, making it much easier and smoother once you arrive.
Don’t Give “No” For an Answer
As salespeople, we’re often told not to take “no” for an answer. But what if we could avoid even giving “no” as a possible answer? Too many people finish their appointments with a loose close like, “Thanks for your time today, can I call you in a couple days to see how everything goes?” Your prospect has the opportunity to say “no” right then if they’re feeling assertive, and can always just ignore your calls in the future. If you keep calling, you’ll be the one who feels pushy and embarrassed.
Giving your prospect just two specific options makes a world of difference. Hand them a series of choices: “I’ll give you a call in a few days. Thursday or Friday, when suits you best? Morning or afternoon? Great, something like 10:30 am?” Now you have a follow-up at an agreed-upon time, and you won’t have to spend any precious minutes agonizing over if and when you should call.
Once you start that phone call at the stated time, you can say to your client, “I’m just calling as promised.” If they can follow through with this phone call, they’re in a position to feel grateful to you for calling and keeping your promise. If they cancel or aren’t there, they end up feeling indebted to you for breaking a prior commitment. They’re the one who’s guilty now, not you.
If a potential client fails to pick up, keep calling and avoid leaving a voicemail — these are usually a recipe for being ignored. But if you must leave a message, here’s the formula after you give your name and your reason for calling: “I’m guessing now isn’t a good time. I’ll tell you what — I’ll try you again on Friday morning, maybe around 9 am. If Friday at 9 am isn’t a good time for you, please drop me a call back.” Either way, you’ll probably end up on the phone with your prospect.
All of this really comes down to controlling conversations, respecting your time and others’, and managing the next step. All you need is to be one step ahead. Because the more you control your conversations, the more you’ll be able to make those conversations count.