I am pretty sure that if I had to pick one topic and one topic alone for the rest of my life, my career, talking about, it would be this concept of scheduling the next meeting. I swear that I feel like I sound like a broken record at times always harping on, did you get the next meeting? Did you get the next meeting?
(I’ve got to warn you guys. I am good at sales, good at sales process. I am not good at drawing or writing stuff. I do these whiteboard videos because I think they do a good job of presenting information in a simple way, but man, I should take an art class or something.)
Anyway I talk about it all the time, and the concept is very, very simple, and that is in selling (There is the sales guy with the hat. The sales guy has always got the hat. I don’t know why, probably customers are always shorter), in selling it’s about human interaction. Sales happens between people, human people are interacting. It’s a funny way of saying it, but I like it. That’s what it is. There’s no magic. Marketing is with computers, and the bots and the whitepapers and the downloads are all involved, but selling is what happens between the people.
So this is where we spend our time, and then there’s what happens next after that conversation, whatever it is. Again, this applies throughout the process. It’s the same model, but whatever happens next. “I’ve got to go talk to my boss, got to decide, got to go put together a proposal”—is just stuff. There’s always stuff that happens. There’s always stuff that we do in selling or between the human interaction, human people interacting, I love it.
But on the other side of the stuff, there needs to be, wait for it. (See the guy in the hat coming? See the amazing stick figure? The legs are shorter this time. There’s the other person. Gosh, I am great artist aren’t I? Do my eyes.) There is another human interaction.
So think about how simple this concept is. Human interaction stuff, another human interaction, and ask ourselves why again and again do we allow this concept of the stuff that we have to do to distract us from the goal of the next meeting? What do we typically do? We have our interaction. We say, “Hey, let me go do my stuff or you’re going to go do your stuff, and then I’ll call you.”
I will follow up, and the answer is no, that’s wrong. You need to schedule this (universal symbol for a calendar with more days and months, etc.), you need to schedule the interaction here. So the idea, quite simply, is at this point in time right here you should be creating the linkage to the next scheduled interaction.
Very simple. Very simple, very straightforward. Don’t ever leave one interaction without your next scheduled interaction. Wow! That was really complicated.
What gets in the way of the stuff? What causes us to screw this up? 1: “I need to,” and I don’t know how long it’s going to take. 2: “They need to,” and they don’t know long it’s going to take. We’ll deal with all of these really quickly, really simply. 3: “Don’t have/Not sure about my calendar.” These are the only three things other than you’re kind of frankly too stupid or too lazy to remember this paradigm that you schedule the next interaction.
These are the only three things that are going to stand in your way, so let’s deal with them right now. I need to do this thing, and I am not sure exactly how long it’s going to take. Well, gosh, here’s a concept…guess! If you need to go put together a proposal or assemble a reference or get a quote, or whatever it is, talk to your boss. Take a guess. Make an estimate right here about how long that’s going to take—three days, five days? Overestimate and schedule the interaction right here before you leave the room, before you go do the stuff at an appropriate interval in time.
Guess what? The process for number two is not going to be that difficult. It’s the same. They need to go to the boss, check on this, pull these reports. Ask them, “How long do you think it’s going to take you? Going to take a week, a year, a month? I don’t care. Just give me a number.”
“Well, I am not sure.”
“Okay, let’s guess. How about we say a week?”
“Oh, that’s plenty of time.”
Schedule your next interaction at this point in time for a day or date that is past that. Make sense? Pretty simple, right? All we have to do is think a little past the next step, the next stuff, and we get the meeting.
The third one is more complicated. I am in my car driving. I don’t have access to my calendar. A: Bullshit, you have your smartphone right there in front of you. B: Okay, you don’t want to be juggling around and trying to figure out the calendar. That’s fine, I get that. C: Not sure how my calendar is going to flesh out over the next couple of weeks. That’s fine. Again, make a good guess would be a good start and take ownership.
“Well, I will tell you what, Bob. I understand you don’t have your calendar with you, or you don’t know how to actually talk, drive and now get your calendar at the same time, but if it was your wife on the phone you’d be doing exactly that, so whatever.” Or B, you’ve got some meetings coming, etc., etc.
Be presumptive. “Here’s what we’re going to do, Bob. I am going to send you a calendar invite. I am going to go to my calendar. I will send you a calendar invite. If I get it wrong, if when you get back to your calendar, if when your calendar solidifies, the onus will be on you to send me the alternatives.”
So at least we have an actionable next step. I have a meeting invite out there in the ether, in process, if you will.
So I hope this helps—a very simple concept. If you embrace this, it will change your game. It will change the way you work with your prospects and your clients. Never leave an interaction without the next scheduled human interaction. Don’t worry about all the stuff. Make your best guess, and if they are not really sure about what’s going on, if they are giving you some sort of lame excuse, just be presumptive. Basically, send them a meeting invite. If they accept it, you got it. If not, make sure they know the burden is on them to reschedule.
Hope this helps. Simple stuff to help you change your game.
By Townsend Wardlaw