I have a thing about being on time. For me, it is a sign of respect. It is also your job to be on time when you are in sales. Competition is tough. Why would you, as a salesperson, work hard to secure sales appointments and then blow it by being late?
The way I see it, if you’ve agreed to meet with me, there is no way that I am going to be late for that meeting. In fact, just yesterday I had a scheduled lunch with a new customer. I arrived about 7-minutes early and the host seated me at the table. As I was about to text my customer, he messaged me asking if I was already there, because he had just walked in. I quickly jumped up, greeted him and we walked back to the table. As we sat down, I said I was about to let him know I was there when I received his message. He said, “Barb, knowing you, I figured you were already here ahead of me.” I knew the reason for the compliment was because every time we had a meeting scheduled at his office, I was ALWAYS a few minutes early.
That’s how I roll. I’m on time.
It doesn’t matter if it is a phone or in-person meeting. And because I live in Atlanta where the traffic can become a gridlocked nightmare, I leave plenty of extra time to ensure I arrive early for an in-person appointment.
But I’ve been noticing that not all sellers view punctuality in the same way. Countless times customers or prospective customers have complimented me for being so prompt for our scheduled meeting. That always left me thinking, isn’t everyone on time? After all, time is a precious commodity. Buyers are busy. Why wouldn’t you be on time?
This hit home recently.
After a vendor was late for a scheduled call with me, I went on my way. I waited 5-minutes before I left my desk for a few minutes. At the 7-minute mark, I receive an email from the salesperson asking if we should now jump on our call. He’s late, and it will now take another few minutes just to get the call going? Being late didn’t seem to be a problem for him, but it was for me.
Am I just too rigid regarding time? I decided to ask my LinkedIn network what they thought.
I posed this question: “when you book an appointment with someone who came to you, how long do you wait if they are late?”
Many people said that they would wait 10-15 minutes, especially true if it was a customer or a prospective customer. Some of my customer’s calendars are so slammed with meetings that I will certainly give them grace if they are late, but guess what, they rarely are. Have I waited 10-15 minutes for customer? Sure. Things happen. Would I put up with that regularly? Not so much. My time is as valuable as anyone else’s. Fortunately, this has never been an issue for me.
What about someone who isn’t a customer yet?
In several comments, people told stories of being stood up completely with no notice given. I think back to one buyer, who approached me to talk about hiring me. We scheduled an appointment three times – twice they never showed for the call, and the third time they cancelled the call just 5 minutes before the meeting time. No respect for my time at all.
What do you do? Just keep putting up with it? Where do you draw a line?
As others on the LinkedIn question thread said, it would depend on how big the potential piece of business represented. I can see their point. And that buyer who bailed on me three times? I asked myself if it was really worth it, and thought about what I would be putting up with if they actually signed on as a customer. There wasn’t enough of a revenue opportunity to justify wasting more time, and I let it go.
What about vendors?
When I clarified my LinkedIn question and said that it was a vendor calling me who was late, for the most part people still said they’d wait 10-15 minutes. Me? I’m not that patient. When a vendor books time on my calendar, I expect them to be on time. And I certainly expect that if they are going to be late, they alert me. I will either then decide to wait or reschedule the call.
The story I shared about the vendor call gone awry isn’t an isolated situation. It has happened with other vendors before. Customers have told me about vendors keeping them waiting, which I just do not understand. If you are in the business of selling and someone grants you an appointment time, your job is to be there on time. Early even.
Okay – what are your thoughts?
What’s your time threshold when it is a customer, prospect, or a vendor who wants you to buy? Inquiring minds want to know. Please share your comments below.