When a salesperson doesn’t have time to present everything

When a salesperson doesn’t have time to present everything

Elective vs. non-elective stops


Limited time on sales calls frequently challenges the sales team. They don’t have enough time to share the entire presentation. What can they do?

Good planning for a “scheduled/confirmed” sales call is essential. Securing commitment to the time needed is a great first step. Sending an Outlook invite for the time frame helps the prospect budget enough time. We should also send an agenda to remind the prospect of why the meeting is important and how the prospect should prepare.

Even so, some prospects won’t respond/commit to an Outlook invite. And then when you show up, the context may have changed. Yesterday, when you booked the appointment, the prospect had one hour. Today, the prospect says she has 10 minutes. What do you do?

Essential to this challenge is the distinction between elective and non-elective stops. In a non-elective stop, the prospect can’t give you more time. Perhaps he has been called into an all-company meeting and can’t tell the company president, “I have a more important meeting with a salesperson.”

Elective stops are another matter. Here, the prospect wants to move on to another task or meeting but has the flexibility to give you more time – if you “earn the right” to the additional time. You have probably had this experience and considered it a great meeting. You had a one-hour meeting budgeted and the meeting went two hours. From whence came the extra hour? The buyer had flexibility.

How do we earn the extra time needed?

  • Early in the presentation, we need to plant a strong hook, a compelling bold vision of what we offer. (For an example, visit http://bit.ly/bold-vision1.)
  • Ideally, this vision will show our prospect how to scale up to a higher level of well-being; perhaps our offer even transforms the entire business to scale up.
  • We need to supplement the vision with enough credibility to inspire curiosity and further exploration.

Bold vision plus proving creates a breakthrough, moving the conversation to a serious plane, earning the right to more time. (Visit http://bit.ly/BestEfforts.)

What about those non-elective breaks, which can occur even when you have an Outlook-accepted meeting?

More than 10 years ago we designed a one-hour standard sales call which contributed importantly to a 55 percent increase in unit sales in one year. The sales team – which sold advertising predominantly to Fortune 100 product managers – started reporting challenges in securing the full one hour for the presentation. We faced non-elective stops.

Our action plan: We designed a 30-minute standard sales call that hit the minimum “must haves” for the presentation.

Ultimately, the salespeople reported, “Sometimes, the buyer can’t meet me in the office. She comes down to the waiting room for a 10-minute power meeting.”

You guessed it – we designed a 10-minute standard sales call that created enough curiosity to earn the right to a full one-hour meeting. (To view a standard sales call video, visit http://bit.ly/Standard-sales.)

Depending on your business, it’s probably desirable to design two-to-three standard sales calls of varying durations to meet your selling needs.

One more idea – set your next appointment during the current appointment. It’s so much easier to set an appointment when you have access.