Making Time Count In The Art Of The Sale

118 seconds. That number was drilled into my head years ago at an iMedia event when keynote speaker Jeff Hayzlett, the former celebrity CMO of Kodak, made it crystal clear that we have eight seconds to interest someone in hearing another 110 seconds of our story. The concept applies universally in business, but it’s even more crucial for sales professionals.

Whether you work on the buy or sell side of the business, everyone has been guilty of being superfluous. When somebody asks you the time, don’t waste time telling them how the watch was made -- in other words, cut to the chase.

Consumers have never been busier and more pressed to produce results with less personnel and tighter margins. Making matters worse, instead of competing with 20 or so other publishers, digital offerings are now up against hundreds, if not thousands, of sales executives trying to sell their wares. People simply don't have the time to consume everything they hear each day, making the first impression all the more important.



But the first 118 seconds are only the beginning. Used effectively, they should secure a longer meeting, which comes with its own set of guidelines to demonstrate your commitment to not wasting anyone's time. When we earn face-time with these busy individuals, as sales professionals, we need to be responsive to their needs by committing to the following guidelines.

1)   Set meetings with specific agendas, objectives and goals that are initiated by the seller and agreed upon by the customer/client

2)   Ensure your meeting has a “hard stop” time and stick to it

3)   Do your homework in advance, including having a thorough understanding of your prospective client’s business, market position, competitors and challenges. Come prepared with the ways your product or service solves those challenges and can help achieve their business objectives

4)   Present real and strategic solutions that are easy to understand and allow your client to be the hero to their client

5)   At the conclusion of the meeting, agree upon next steps and follow up immediately with an email recap to maintain the momentum generated during this brief and personal interaction

As parochial as these steps may seem, it's surprising how often even the most senior sellers overlook them. But when these simple but sage rules are followed, customers notice and appreciate that you’ve gone out of your way to be respectful of their time.

The proof is in the results. If it’s so simple, you may ask, then why do so few sales professionals actually do it? I don’t have an answer to that question, but thank goodness they don’t -- otherwise, it would be far more challenging to rise above the majority. 

6 comments about "Making Time Count In The Art Of The Sale".
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  1. larry price from tmpg, July 10, 2013 at 9:30 a.m.

    great article. thank you for posting it. Larry

  2. Brian McFarland from One Country Media, July 10, 2013 at 3:12 p.m.

    thanks much is masters of the obvious info, but somehow we all seem to slip every so often...all the best, Brian

  3. Tom Fasano from Massapequa Public Schools, July 10, 2013 at 3:39 p.m.

    Great article, Brian. My old buddy is published! Next step is a doctoral dissertation for the marketing field!
    See you soon.


  4. Brian McFarland from One Country Media, July 10, 2013 at 3:44 p.m.

    thanks Tom...and who would have thought that two knuckleheads who took over the world playing RISK so many times...perhaps our desire to lead began then?

  5. tammy johnson from cbs local, July 10, 2013 at 5:01 p.m.

    totally agreed Brian! Def sharing w/ my sales team as reminder of what we must do to move the needle and be that true partner

  6. Jim Konatsotis from NWT, LLC, July 11, 2013 at 10:52 a.m.

    Great, succinct article about being effective. Thanks for the refresher course. It's good information worth reinforcing.

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