Dear Irreverent Sales Girl,
I enjoy your blog posts, and have a question I hope you can help with.
Forgive the long intro, but I want to put the question into context:
Two weeks ago, I was introduced to a prospective client by a mutual business friend. Let’s call him “Bob.” Bob wanted to meet face-to-face. I tried to schedule the meeting at a half-way point for us.
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His response? “I’m so busy I wouldn’t be able to vacate the office unless we have billable work to discuss.”
Again… this was a “meet and greet.”
So I hustle out to their office on a Thursday, which is 35 minutes away. I also discover that Bob’s ‘office’ is actually within another company’s office. The owner of that company (“Tom”) was also in the meeting and seemed to be the driver of the meeting, not Bob.
We had a good meeting. Tom tells me he was impressed with my communication. And when I left, he told me he’d be out of the office on Friday but he’d get back to me on Monday.
I followed up the following Friday. Then I followed up again the next week on Wednesday.
I followed up again today with a more pointed question:
Hot or Not?
Was the project they discussed with me still hot or was it put on the back burner? I clarified that I didn’t want to be a pest but I do follow up. I said I would respond accordingly to the status.
So, Irreverent Sales Girl, my question: do you have any suggestions on how to handle one-on-one meetings for the ‘solopreneur?’ I am seriously considering not meeting in person anymore unless a consulting fee is paid.
I’m looking for action-takers not time-wasters. Any input from you would be appreciated!
What to Do in Columbus!
Hello What to Do in Columbus ,
Thank you for your letter. I am delighted to send you my thoughts and I hope that they are helpful.
I understand your frustration, and I think a couple of small tweaks can create much better outcomes – whether they are with Solo-preneurs or Enterprise customers.
When Bob first asked you to meet in person, you gained an advantage.
You had leverage!
He was asking you to go out of your way. So, you can ask for stuff in return. (I mean, come on! We not only have to drive to see Bob, but we have to get ourselves ready and looking great which – I don’t know about you – takes me some time!)
A possible response could have been, “Great. I prefer face-to-face time as well. Before we meet, I would like to have a quick conversation to discuss our agenda so that I make sure I bring all the right stuff with me. Is now a good time to do that?”
Then, I will finalize details.
“OK. Tell me about where I am going to meet you. Do I need to check in with security? Are there special parking instructions I should know about?”
Finally, “Great. I will look forward to seeing you. Is there anyone else you would like to include in the meeting?”
Now, you have what you both need to make the very best use of your time and his.
The day before the meeting, I like to send an email confirming: “Hello Bob, I am looking forward to seeing you at 2 pm at your address tomorrow.
I’ve attached the agenda we discussed. Is there anything you would like to add or change? See you soon!”
If Bob is not willing to take the time to set an agenda for the meeting and help you get details on how to get to his office and who to expect in the meeting – this will tell you A LOT!
You can then simply say something like: “I appreciate that you are busy right now – so if this isn’t the best time to discuss an agenda we can schedule a call at a time that is better for you.”
The underlying message is:
- Your time is important.
- My time is important.
Let’s get to business.
As for what to do now:
1) You might call/write Tom and say: “Hello Tom, I hope everything is OK. Bob asked me to reach out from our meeting the other day – and I haven’t heard from him. Perhaps he is busy, but I want to make myself available if there are other questions I can answer.” (Maybe something legitimately happened to Bob.)
2) If leapfrogging Bob is not appropriate (trust your gut), I might reach out to the person who referred me as a check-in: Thank you for the referral. I felt we had a lot of work to do that would be really useful, but now I’m not hearing back from Bob. Is that your typical experience of him? Should I be worried about him?
3) Simply leave an email or phone message for him saying: SUBJECT: Sorry we haven’t connected: “Hi Bob. I’ve reached out a number of times as you asked me to. Perhaps now isn’t convenient or the right time for us to engage. No problem! I am here when you are ready.”
Then, be done with it.
Make sure – either way – that you circle back with the person who referred you. They are always interested in how their connection worked.
It is OK to ask for what you need and expect when you are spending your time and gas money and energy on a business meeting!
Go out and Love ‘em ALL UP!
The Irreverent Sales Girl
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