Half-Hour Sales Appointments

Think back to the last in-person appointment you set with a prospect (or likewise, with a team member). “Can we find an hour on each other’s calendars?” Maybe it’s an hour and a half, maybe even two hours, but no way you’re going to go below that, right? In a recent article on Psychology Today, Peter Bregman laid out the benefits of setting 30 minutes for meetings, and it’s something sales reps might want to consider for their sales appointments.

The downsides of focusing on one thing at a time

Zero. Zilch. None! There are no downsides to honing in on a single thing, and not emailing while on a call or not trying to listen to a podcast while putting together a sales presentation. You do a single thing really well instead of taking longer to do two things half-assed.

And the benefits of multitasking? Research has actually shown multitasking to have a tangible negative impact on people, including:

  • The more irrelevant information multitaskers see, the more they’re attracted to it
  • Chronic multitaskers show poorer writing skills than non-multitaskers
  • People who regularly multitask have a tough time concentrating on one thing even when they’re not multitasking

Dr. Jim Taylor notes from this research that “single tasking, meaning focusing only on those tasks that are absolutely essential to maximize performance, is an effective tool for making small, yet profound gains in productivity.”

The magic of compressed time

Taking the concept of single tasking a step further, Peter Bregman embraces the concept of “compressed time” in nearly all areas of life. Of course, some areas, like dinner with friends, sleep, and time with his family don’t get compressed, but others like meetings and workouts get the compressed time treatment.

To demonstrate the concept of compressed time, Peter discusses how he cut his average workout of an hour a day down to 30 minutes, which has the benefits of higher intensity, better eating, and consistency—because he can always find 30 minutes.

He says, “if you have half the time to accomplish something, you become hyper-aware of how you’re using that time. And hyper-focused during it.” We all know about the cost-savings when you have shorter internal meetings, but what about the psychological impact of shorter customer meetings?

Compressing sales appointments

While Peter isn’t a salesperson (he’s a leadership coach), the benefits of the 30-minute approach he has started taking with his clients is easily transferable to sales. “If you have half the time to accomplish something, you become hyper-aware of how you’re using that time. And hyper-focused during it,” Peter says. With 30 minutes, both parties:

  • Show up. Like the 30-minute workout, people are less likely to cancel a 30-minute session than a whole hour.
  • Show up on time. With only 30 minutes, you know you need to make every minute count.
  • Come prepared. The client knows what they want to get out of the meeting and the salesperson does their research.
  • Focus on the biggest issues. You don’t hop around tangential issues that you might You get to the 1-3 biggest issues facing your client.
  • Ask better questions and have better answers. Everyone gets to the point when they know the clock is running, meaning you can get to the big issues in that first meeting. “Getting traction on a single thing is far more useful than touching on many without forward momentum on any.”

Like we talked about recently, listening is a key tenant to the modern sales meeting, and you absolutely listen better when things are moving faster and you’re more engaged without distractions. Otherwise, with the shorter approach, things shouldn’t be all that different for your sales appointments. You still do research and prepare with the right content, you keep the conversation on track and you summarize the meeting at the very end and recap the next steps you’re going to take and what you hope the prospect will do next (besides sign the contract).

The one cost? “While it’s energizing, it also takes a lot of energy to be so focused, even for a short amount of time. It’s a sprinter’s tactic.” But with that focus, you’ll be potentially saving you and your prospect time, and maybe even get 30 minutes on their calendar that you otherwise wouldn’t have gotten.

Struggling with productivity outside your meetings? Download John Burns’ free eBook below!

Image credit: Self portrait – Ticking away by MattysFlicks | Creative Commons