One of the many fundamental rules I follow during my prospecting efforts is to sell the appointment first, not the product. Prospecting should be aimed at securing time, because we have nothing until we have time. Within that rule lies another rule that is crucial to maintain the proper positioning in a prospecting scenario.

Never ask for an appointment.

Sales is a negotiation and it starts the very second you make contact with a prospective buyer. Key to a successful sale is maintaining leverage at all times, so we are equals in the conversation, instead of subservient to our prospect. The main way I see sales people give up leverage is by asking their prospect for an appointment. Getting appointments is key, crucial, but you should never ask for them. You should prospect in a way that allows you to SUGGEST an appointment as a logical next step, instead of having to ask for one. Asking is equivalent to begging, and begging doesn’t work.

“Would you be willing to meet with me for 10-15 minutes?”

“Can I stop in and see you and discuss this further?”

“Allow me to demo my such and such to your team?”

ALL of those types of phrases cost you leverage. The implication behind these statements is that the client is doing you a favor by allowing you to come in and discuss your product. Realistically, by the time you are seeking a meeting, you should have established some need (pain, issue, obstacle) that your product may be able to help with. If not, what’s the purpose of the meeting? Base the meeting on THEIR agenda, not yours. The implication (correctly) is that you are meeting because it might help them. The purpose of the meeting is to further explore a fit, and in that way, it becomes 50% their idea.

The easiest way to accomplish this is by SUGGESTING the meeting. That means your initial approach is all based on confirming the existence of situations that warrant suggesting a meeting. If you didn’t find those, you are essentially begging for time. Even if they give it you, and even if you end up getting to the proposal stage, you’ve given up a lot of leverage, which will make it difficult to defend price.

Don’t ask for meetings, be able to suggest them.