Time for another old blog post. I wrote this one, admittedly, in a fit of pique – but it still holds up well. There’s really not much I’d change, but I will add some tips on how to manage your schedule at the end.
“Scheduling Integrity” is an important part of sales professionalism. If you don’t know what that is, read on.
Well, the phone just rang. Looking at the number, I knew what was about to happen. Sure enough, it’s a person that had requested a meeting with me today, and that meeting was scheduled for a few hours away. And she was calling to ask if I would reschedule.
“Reschedule.” That word really is a pain in my rear end, to tell you the truth. The call went like this: “Hi, Troy, we have a meeting today. I’ve had a conflict come up, and I need to know if we can reschedule.” I agreed to do so, but not happily. See, I know what “something came up” means, and so does everyone else. “Something came up” means “Something better came up.” The problem is that, while something better came up for the other person, now I have an hour of my business time that I’ve already committed – and I can’t sub in another meeting.
I’ve come up with a term for this, and it’s “schedule integrity.” Basically, it means that when you make a meeting, you take it seriously and honor it. When someone – anyone – agrees to meet with you, they are making a commitment to you. Your commitment to them should be at least as serious; more so if you are the requester of the meeting. Cancelling a meeting that YOU requested is a big sign of disrespect. It shows that you don’t know how to manage your schedule.
You see, in most meeting dynamics, there is the person who expects to ask for something, and the person who will be asked. We’re talking about the basic customer/salesperson relationship here. It happens in networking environments, as well. A while back, I was asked to “meet and do some networking” with someone that I know. An hour before the meeting, he did the ‘cancel and reschedule’ number. On the rescheduled meeting, he canceled a half-hour before the meeting. I haven’t rescheduled, and I won’t. Again, a lack of respect.
It’s not tough to avoid these situations. When you request and get a meeting, consider that time locked on your schedule, and set new meetings at times that don’t conflict. That’s what adults – and professionals – do. And as I noted, the dynamics are different depending on whether you are the requester or not, but if you request meetings with someone that continually reschedules, consider that a message that your meeting won’t happen, and won’t be productive if it does.
If this were an occasional situation, I wouldn’t take the time to blog about it; however, I am constantly amazed by how many salespeople fly by the seat of their pants with respect to scheduling. Professionals always have something scheduled, make the most of their time, and respect the scheduling of others. If you don’t have this trait, and you’re wondering why you’re not part of the ‘elite’ group of salespeople, here’s a big indicator. This is basic time management.
These rules do of course change in the event of personal sickness and personal emergencies. I had a candidate reschedule an interview on Monday with no penalty due to illness: I prefer to keep the vomit reflex as far from my office as possible. But I find that situations like that are the exception and not the rule.
Bottom line – if you want to be respected as a professional, and treated as one by your customers and associates, step one is to have (or adopt) schedule integrity.
Now that you understand schedule integrity, here are some tips on how to manage your schedule:
- Maximize customer face time during face-time hours. Every industry has hours that their customers will be more available – you should be working to maximize yours.
- Regularly disqualify old proposals so you’re not spending time chasing things that won’t close. Here’s a video giving ideas on how to do this.
- Build prospecting time into your schedule a week ahead – make an appointment with yourself and keep it. Schedule integrity matters for commitments to yourself.
- Don’t let “better things” come up. When you make an appointment, consider it inviolate for all but the most dire of emergencies. “I can close a sale over here” is not a dire emergency – if a customer calls requesting a meeting time that you already have booked, simply explain that you’re booked and land on a new time. The fear is that the customer will decide to buy elsewhere because you’re in demand. Nonsense – customers appreciate that you keep your commitments, and will understand that you will treat THEIR commitments the same way.
- Underbook yourself. That’s right, I said UNDERbook. If you plan a day when you’re going hammer and tongs from meeting to meeting, I will guarantee that something will come up and you’ll miss a meeting. Don’t be that guy or gal. Book a strong week but a reasonable one. With technology the way it is today, if you end up with 30 extra minutes between meetings, you can always do productive work in your car.
- Always give the customer value for time spent. More on that here.
If you respect your schedule and those of your customers, they will respect you and yours.