Here’s a scenario you’ve probably experienced.
I bumped into an old acquaintance at the grocery store. We played on the same rec basketball team over 25 years ago and all the guys would go for beers after games. I haven’t seen him since then, and wouldn’t have recognized or remembered him.
He recognized me, and after exchanging small talk about the younger days, he awkwardly suggested we get together sometime.
Uh oh. You know the feeling.
I’ve got really good friends I want to make time to see more and want to be with. I sure didn’t want to commit to carving out time with someone that was just a fringe acquaintance from the late ’80s.
So I used the universal wienie way out:
“Yeah, we should do that sometime.”
He ended with the equally-wishy washy phrase “Let’s stay in touch,” perhaps suggesting he didn’t want to get together any more than I did.
What was missing from the conversation, which would have firmed up the idea of actually getting together, was the attachment of specifics and very importantly, a time frame.
For example, if either of us had said, “Great, how about happy hour on Friday at the bar down the street?” that would have forced a decision.
Similar scenarios happen in sales situations. I see far too many sales opportunities lost because time frames are not attached to wishes, or intentions.
For example, recall situations where a prospect said, “We’ll need to talk about that … “
It’s a safe bet that this intention was never followed through.
If you’re serious about an action, get others to commit to time frames when you hear these wishes or intentions.
Prospect: “We’ll need to talk about it.”
Sales rep: “Yes we will. Let’s do it now.” or “Let’s schedule a call to do that.”
Prospect: “Something we’ll need to do sometime is have those accessories installed.”
Sales rep: “I agree. How about next week?”
Prospect: “We’ll have to get around to that at some point.”
Sales rep: “Yes, we will. I suggest putting it on the agenda for the next call.”
Even better — get them to attach and accept a time frame.
Examples: “Mike, by what date will you have those figures ready?” ; “Susan, when will you recommend my proposal to your boss?”
It’s simple. Attach time frames and things happen. State wishes and desires and they float away.
Action step: The next time you are faced with a nebulous discussion of a possible future event, get specific and attach a time frame to actually make it happen.
Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Smart Calling Online and is republished here with permission.