Do you know of any territory managers or sales professionals who are habitually late to customer appointments? What about yourself? Are you always on time, or do you try and squeeze too much into an already busy day and pay the price by turning up late to sales appointments and customer meetings?
With our roads getting busier by the week and more expected of us from our companies and customers, one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is to stay in control your time and keep your sanity is to make sure you always arrive a few minutes early for your sales appointments.
Before I discuss the importance of planning to be early to sales meetings, let me share my thoughts about being late.
The problems with being late
- When you’re late, your stress levels increase. Being stressed means you’re now more concerned with getting to your meeting on time, rather than observing the traffic around you or knowing how to handle the upcoming appointment.
- When you’re late, you’re showing your key customers that you don’t value their time.
- Arriving late increases your heart rate and makes you sweat. On a warm day, this can be a disaster as your shirt and face will give others the appearance you’ve been running a marathon.
- If car parking at your customer’s location is difficult, running late means, you’ll either be very lucky enough to find a park nearby or drive around wasting more time trying to locate a park.
- If key customers already have other sales meetings lined up, yours might need to be cancelled, pushed back, or shortened to accommodate other sales representatives. So rather than having 30 minutes of quality time with your key customer, you might only end up having 15 minutes.
Why it makes (dollars and) sense to turn up on time
- When arriving at a customer’s location 10 minutes before the scheduled sales appointment, you give yourself some buffer time. The traffic might be busy, or you might have to walk some distance from your car, or perhaps you’ll need to find some coins for a parking metre.
- When you do arrive early to a meeting, you can stay in your car and send one or two emails before you go to your meeting. Just don’t stay in your car sending emails and then being late!
- When you turn up early, you’ll have time to review the notes from your previous meetings. What has your customer purchased during the last sales cycle? Have there been any returns or problems with stock or orders? Have you had any conversations over the telephone or by email since your last sales meeting?
- Create a plan for the sales meeting. After you have reviewed your previous conversations and notes, it’s time to put together a few action items for your meeting. What exactly do you want to talk about that is going to help you have the best chance of selling more of your products or services?
The last thing you want to do, especially with your key accounts, is to walk into your sales meetings completely unprepared. “Winging it” is not a strategy for a true sales professional.
In conclusion let me just say that if you’re the sort of sales professional who is never late to meetings, pat yourself on the back and carry on. On the other hand, if you find yourself constantly running late, making excuses, and racing to get to your appointments, it might be time to stop and re-evaluate the problem.
a. Are you cramming too many appointments in your day?
b. Are you going over time during each sales meeting?
c. Are you trying to do too much in between sales appointments?
d. Are you not leaving enough time in-between customer appointments?
e. Have you not built on a contingency time into your daily plan?
I hope these ideas have been helpful in enabling you to manage your territory and your time even better.