How Much Time Do You Have?

Years ago I participated in a professional services sales training refresher.

Back to basics: Introductory sales call

As the sales call gets underway:

  • Introductions and pleasantries
  • Reconfirm meeting agenda and objectives
  • Reconfirm amount of time allocated for the meeting.

Shortly thereafter, earnest Peter Arnstein, eager to roll out his newly-polished sales call skills, having secured a much sought-after first meeting to explore opportunities with a prominent, successful CEO turned private equity investor:

  • Introductions: check
  • Meeting agenda: check
  • Reconfirm time allotted:

        Me: “How much time do you have?”

        Prominent and successful CEO / investor: “Depends if you have anything worth spending time on.”

Lesson: Indicate consideration for value of counterpart’s time. Offer an estimate of time expected, along with an option to be briefer.

Epilogue: I recovered from my opening gaffe. The meeting turned out ok. And I noted (and have never forgotten) that sometimes open-ended questions don’t work very well.