Would you give you 5 minutes of your time?…

Would you give you 5 minutes of your time?

A couple of instances this week got me thinking about how we approach our clients (either existing or potential) when we are trying to have a chat with them.

The first instance was while I was at a professional services forum where I was delivering a talk on consultative selling. Over lunch I was chatting with an accountant and he was telling me how difficult he finds asking his clients for 5 minutes of their time for a chat. I asked him why he wanted to talk to them.

“To let them know about the other services we offer,” he said.

The second instance was while I was sat at my desk replying to emails. My telephone rang and when I answered it I was confronted by someone wanting to review my broadband tariff. Before she had even finished her question I had said No, thanks and put the phone down.

And that, together with my chat with the accountant, got me thinking about how we approach our clients. His clients didn’t want to give him 5 minutes of their time and I didn’t want to give the broadband provider 5 minutes of my time. Was it because I didn’t like them or his clients didn’t like him? Of course not. Was it because we didn’t have the time? I don’t believe that (certainly in my case anyway) It was much more straight forward than that. There was no instant, obvious benefit on offer in exchange for giving up those 5 precious minutes.

Why did the accountant’s clients want to know about the other services he offered? Why did I want to have my broadband reviewed? They didn’t and I didn’t. Why? Because we simply couldn’t see the neon-lit, firework-display of a BENEFIT shining right in front of us. Why should we listen? Why should any of us give 5 minutes of our time to someone for no apparent benefit in return?

Consider the last time you wanted 5 minutes of your client’s time for a chat. If you never have a problem getting them to agree then brilliant. But if you struggle then try this exercise –

  1. Read out what you are going to say to your client
  2. Then ask yourself “Would I give myself 5 minutes of my time to listen to that?”

If your answer is NO then you need to plug in an obvious benefit (as perceived through the eyes of your client) of them giving up their time right at the front-end of your opening question. Get the right benefit and your client will want to listen.

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