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Respecting the Value of a Person's Time


Tips to approaching a business prospect whose time is limited


February 20, 2011
Time.  It is the number one thing your clients don’t have, that they wish they had more of. Well…ok, that and money. But the time issue is an easier one to solve than the latter.

It is a simple enough concept: your clients don’t have enough time in the day to do everything that they have to do, let alone deal with you. Sure, what you have for them may be a good fit for their company; it may increase sales ten fold, drive new customers to their doors or enhance their product. But if they are already struggling to complete their day-to-day tasks, guess what? They don’t have any spare time to give you. Time is money.

So, the questions is, how do you get a minute of someone’s time that doesn’t have a minute to give you? The answer: by making it easy, fast, and painless for that person to do business with you.

Here are some simple rules of thumb to achieve those tasks:

Keep things short and simple and let them ask most of the questions. You already know their business (if not, you should have done your homework), so let them ask about you. They want to know how you can help them put more dollars in their pocket and/or give them more time in the day. Be prepared to tell them how you can do that.

Also, and this should be obvious - it always helps to be polite and courteous. People appreciate a good-hearted ‘hello, good to see you again’ even if they don’t show it in their reaction or demeanor. It makes them more comfortable with you and it is a great tool to building a relationship with a prospect.

Next, and this is undoubtedly the most important tip – you must be as flexible as you can. As hard as things are for businesses these days, what business has time for a vendor that can only meet when it is convenient for them?

“Call back in 5 minutes”. Done.

“Just email over the information, I’ll look at it later”. Done.

"Can you print out that information, go to Kinkos, bind it in folders and drop a copy off at all eight of our locations?" You guessed it, done. No task is too big for a potential client.

“GO AWAY!” Done. Believe it or not, even the way in which you respond to a perceived negative reaction can pay off in the long run. Never rule out someone as a possible client and never leave things badly (if you can help it) should relations take a turn for the worse.

It’s a dog eat dog world out there and if a business person doesn’t have the time for you then you are already behind in the count. So, if they have just a little bit of time to spare for you, then you better make the most of it. Be polite, honest, and to the point. Even if a business partnership is not formed, they will appreciate you for treating their time like it is just as valuable as the opportunity you are selling.

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