We all use email to agree on a meeting time. Unfortunately it’s terribly inefficient, especially when it’s done incorrectly. A salesperson who is sloppy about it will drive the new, potential client nuts and make the client wonder if she really wants to do business with the salesperson. It is the salesperson’s first test. You’ll want to pass it.

Here’s an example of good form:

Hi, Judy. 

I understand you want to see a demo of our SuperBigProgram. 

I’m able to do this with you at these times – all EST. 

Mon April 8 from 2 – 5 EST

Wed April 10 from 11 – 3 EST

Fri         April 12 from 9 – 12 EST

Please let me know if anything works for you within these ranges, or suggest another day/time. I will send you an invite with a link to the WebEx meeting. [Or, if it is a phone call: “Please also tell me which number you’d like me to call.”]

Thanks. I look forward to speaking with you. 

[Sig – with name and FULL contact information, including name, title, website, email, physical address, and phone number.]

I also suggest that your email “from” be your name and phone number (as in, “Kristin Zhivago 401.423.2400”) so that people never have to open your email to find your phone number. The worst thing you can do is send emails without any contact info at all. Everyone uses emails to find the phone numbers of people they want to call.

Note that the example above:

  • Immediately states what the email is about.
  • Clearly states the time zone for all times listed.
  • Gives the customer several date/time ranges to pick from.
  • Gives the customer an opportunity to pick an alternative time.
  • Confirms the next step – online meeting or call.
  • Will allow the entire appointment-setting process to take place in three emails – his first one, her response, and his confirmation.

I just tried to set up an appointment with someone in sales, and it took 7 emails, just because the person didn’t read the brief, but carefully composed email I had sent. He then didn’t provide the requested information, nor mention that he was on Eastern time (his company is located in California, which implied he was on Pacific time). He’s in my toaster now and has a limited amount of time to get his act together.

You can waste precious, tone-setting emails just agreeing on the time zone!

Don’t flunk the salesperson’s first test. Be careful, and very clear.