By Greta Schulz
It’s December, and Jessica is making calls to potential clients to fill her appointment calendar. She has spoken to lots of people and, when one shows a strong interest in her company’s product, she asks for an appointment. She gets this response: “Well, Jessica, I think it might make sense for us to talk further. Call me after the holidays, and we can get together then.”
Jessica is excited about all the interest, but she is frustrated with the procrastination. She speaks to her manager and others on her team, and they say, “Oh, yeah. That’s par for the course, this time of year. That is just the way it is.”
What? In a typical December, I’m already getting booked up for January and beyond. If I were to wait until after the first of the year to book appointments, I wouldn’t be working efficiently. I’ll bet you also have at least a half-dozen appointments already set for well into the next year—dentist, doctor, CPA, etc. So why can’t we set business appointments similarly?
If you are selling a product or service, and someone asks you to call after the first of the year, it is a brushoff. They do not feel it is important enough to set it now, because you haven’t gotten them to see it that way. Do you accept that brushoff?
Here is how you should handle the situation:
You get to the point in the conversation where you ask for an appointment, and the prospect says, “You know, that sounds good. Call me after the holidays and we will set something up.”
Say, “I appreciate that, Bob. But it will be so crazy after the first of the year, with our calendars filling up. Let’s go ahead and schedule something now, so we can have it already done.”
If Bob still asks to have you call later, say, “I have to tell you, Bob, when someone tries to make an appointment with me and I am really not interested in meeting, I find a reason to put it off. And the holidays are what I use this time of the year as a believable excuse.
“If you don’t think we have some things to talk about that could really be worth our while, let’s just say that now and not set anything. I am a big girl, Bob. I can take it. But if we do want to talk further, let’s go ahead and set a time. Either way is fine with me. So, Bob, what do you think?”
Some of you may not feel good about that response because you believe you would then lose your opportunity with the prospect. Guess what? You really didn’t have one anyway. In the future, you’ll need to ask better questions, dig deeper and really get the prospect talking about the issues regarding this subject.
Once you get real with prospects and they understand where you are coming from, either they will schedule the appointment or they will respect you for being honest about it.
Wouldn’t you? ♦
Greta Schulz is president of Schulz Business, a sales consulting and training firm. She is the best-selling author of “To Sell is NOT to Sell” and works with Fortune 1000 companies and entrepreneurs. For more information or free sales tips, go to schulzbusiness.com and sign up for “GretaNomics,” a weekly video tip series, or email sales questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.