"The Navigator" News Blog

The 3 Worst Words to Start an Appointment

Sometimes, the biggest enemy of selling has nothing to do with selling skills; personal habits can kill sales in a heartbeat.

Oftentimes in my training, I’m asked what topics to completely avoid during a sales call. The conventional answer – which we touched on last week – is to stay away from politics or religion. If you’re wondering why, go to my sales blog and read last week’s article. That said, there’s an even worse combination of words that are often used to start a selling appointment, but can kill your chances of making a sale.

Those words are, “Sorry I’m late.” Of course, the real sin isn’t apologizing for lateness; it’s being late in the first place. Of course, things do happen and everyone is late from time to time. Yes, even me (Very seldom; I’m a stickler for punctuality). But over the years, I have noticed that there are those people who are habitually late. Frankly, those are people for whom I have no time.

There is no bigger sign of disrespect for someone than being late for an appointment. It is an expression that you live on your own schedule, despite the commitments you have made to others. Admittedly, I’m from the old school, where 10 minutes early is acceptably early, 5 minutes early is on time, and on time it is late (still a heck of a good policy in my opinion); that said, I’m far from the only one who takes punctuality strictly.

A lack of punctuality is simply a lack of professional discipline. One of the most common questions I get asked goes something like, “Troy, I have a problem keeping appointment times. How can I better manage my time so that this doesn’t happen?” I have a hard time coming up with an answer that doesn’t start with, “Grow up.”

Still, punctuality is far from the only simple killer of sales. I’d love to know how many sales die in a year due to simple bad manners and unprofessional conduct. Here are the top 8 ways that simple bad personal habits cost salespeople sales; the good news is that, if you’re guilty of one or more of these things, they’re easy to fix.

  1. Lateness – already discussed.
  2. Bad cell phone etiquette; leaving it on or (worse) taking calls in the middle of a sales call.
  3. Poor personal grooming; looking like an unmade bed in front of the customer.
  4. Rudeness, particularly to people you perceive beneath you.
  5. Lack of follow-up; leaving customers hanging when a simple phone call would keep them informed.
  6. Poor written communication; written sales communications should not look like a text message written by a 12 year old.
  7. Taking the best parking spot – those are for CUSTOMERS.
  8. Unpreparedness; when salespeople walk into a call with neither pad nor paper I always wonder what they think they’re going to accomplish.

As I said, none of these is terminal. If you’re guilty of one of them, changing it is a simple matter of applying a little personal discipline. The rewards will be much higher than the investment.