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Tim had gotten through to the president of the company on a cold call only to be told that he did not have any need at the moment for his service.

Arnold, the president, suggested that “They get back in touch in a couple of months.”

“How do you suggest we do that?” asked Tim.

“Well, the easiest thing to do is just call me.”

“That sounds good, but usually there is a big problem.”

“What problem?”

“When I call you, one of two things will happen. You’ll probably still not be ready in which case I’m a pest. Or worse, you wanted me to call two weeks earlier when you went out and solved the need with someone else. Do you think that’s possible?”

“Sounds like what usually happens.”

“How do we avoid that . . .”

“I’m not really sure.”

“I can appreciate that... I’ve got to ask you something that may be upsetting. I sense that you may not want to do business with me, ever... is that what we’re up against... ? If it is, I’m okay with that... “

“No, no... it’s not that. Just don’t know what’s going to happen down the line.”

“Understand... so you would do business with me... we just need a way to get back in contact,fair?”


“When was the last time you needed the service?”

“Five months ago.”

“How often before that?”

“About every seven months.”

“So you figure in about another month or two . . .”

“Didn’t realize it was coming around again.”

“Would it be fair to say you don’t just pick anyone to provide the service.”

“Definitely. We have to have quality.”

“How do you suggest I show you the quality of what I do?”

“Well, since we’ve only got about two months before we need it again, can you stop in next Tuesday for a brief appointment?”


Tim got an appointment by having the prospect paint a picture with him in it. He was invited in; he did not force his way in.


When a sales call, or for that matter, any sales encounter, does not result in a sale, most sales-people wimp out. The salesperson gives up, and out springs the tired old line, “How about I call you in... ?”

The prospect, having been trained by those salespeople before you, responds “Sure.”

Why do salespeople do this to themselves? The foremost reason is that it’s easier to give up than to find out if the prospect is for real. That way the salesperson can delude himself into believing that maybe, someday, this prospect will buy.

If the sales manager ever asks what happened, “Well, Jones wasn’t ready, but in three months we are getting back together.”

“Good,” comes the response, “make sure you put it on your call-back list.”

Everyone gets off. The prospect. The salesperson. The sales manager. No sale is going to be made, but everyone gets to fantasize it will. Someday. Maybe.

You can’t put “maybe” dollars in the bank.


Don’t wimp out. If the prospect is not going to buy today, why should he ever buy from you? Two questions need answers, “If not today, then when? If not then, then why?”

Tim first determined if the prospect would ever consider using him. He got a “yes.” Then he asked how the prospect determined whom to use. He got the answer. Then Tim, by asking questions, got the president of the company to state when the service would be needed again.

Then he asked, “How do you suggest I show you the quality of what I can do?”

Instead of an appointment, Tim could have been told, send samples. Here’s what Tim would have asked, “Appreciate you wanting samples, but one of two things usually happens. You receive it, and it sits on the pile of ‘things to read’ just like the one I have, or your need for service becomes pressing, and you don’t have the time to consider someone else. Fair?”

“Sounds like me.”

“How do you suggest we avoid that?”


Having the prospect lay out the future with you in it is much better than you trying to lay out the future with you in it.

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