The TACTIC: When selling, go for the top

Tactics Sales


About six months ago, Tim had done some research on firms in his sales territory and decided that The Hubble Group was a prime prospect. In the course of the research, he had obtained a publicly available corporate report which contained the names of all the company officers from the CEO down to the line managers.

He decided that the best place to start would be with Jim Hurley, a division manager whose division was a perfect candidate for Tim’s products. Knowing that this sale would take time because of all the managerial levels, Tim was not disheartened when it took four weeks to finally get into Jim’s office.

And much to his surprise, Jim was very encouraging and recommended that Tim call on his manager, which Tim did. Again, two weeks later, Jim’s manager was very positive and set up an appointment for Tim with the division’s vice president. After two broken appointments and four weeks, Tim got into the vice president’s office.

More positive feedback. The divisional vice president arranged for Tim to meet with the head man, the CEO. Finally, thought Tim, I get to meet with the person who makes the decisions.

The day arrived, and Tim was sitting in the president’s outer office leafing through the company’s newsletter. And there, on page three, was a story of how the president had just signed a three-year contract the week before with Tim’s major competitor.


Getting the appointment is not as difficult as most salespeople would believe. The top performing salespeople don’t have a problem getting them because they just assume one will be made. So they tell the prospect to take out the calendar instead of hoping the prospect will mention it.


Why do salespeople engage in conversations during which they hope that the prospect will see the wisdom of making an appointment? One reason is that they consider any other approach as pushy or perhaps impolite. The end result is that at best, the salesperson asks, “Would you like to make an appointment?”

Consider this question from the prospect’s point of view. Is the salesperson asking this because of one or more of the following reasons:

  1. He doesn’t think it important enough for me to schedule some time, so I won’t.
  2. He doesn’t care whether I need it or not and leaves it up to me to find out.
  3. He’s already made his monthly quota and needs to show his sales manager he’s still in there plugging. He wants to waste my time.

Unfair? Consider what runs through your mind when a salesperson asks you the same question.


Come out and state that you want the prospect to take out her calendar. Do not ask, state. What is the absolute worst thing that could happen when you do this? The prospect will state, “I don’t think we need to make an appointment.” At that point you can come back with, “Oh, I’m sorry I offended you; I guess I had the wrong impression . . . why do you think that was?” Regardless of what comes next, you are now in a position to find out what the prospect’s “stall” is.

And what is the best thing that could happen? You get the appointment.

By stating that you want the prospect to take out her calendar, you will very quickly find that your number of appointments rises rapidly.


Asking for the appointment is no more difficult then stating, “Get our your calendar.”

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