You’re Kept Waiting For 45 Minutes & Then Told You’ve Only Got 30 Minutes – Now What?

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

woman waitingSo you’ve really done your homework on this new prospective client. You’ve put in hours of preparation for this meeting and you’ve set off early to travel the 120 miles to meet with them.

And because you hate being late you rock up an hour early and you pop into McDonalds for a quick cuppa.

You turn up 15 minutes early to the start time of the meeting and announce your presence with the receptionist. You noticed when you signed into the visitors book that a competitor of yours is in with them right now. You sit down, pick up one of their brochures on the table and then you wait and then you wait and then you wait some more!

The receptionist says “they’re running over” and would you like another coffee. You’re feeling agitated and a little hurt at how this prospect is disrespecting your time.

Everything in your heart is saying to leave. After all, what will they be like to work with? But your head and your sales figures says to stick it out.

Finally the decision maker comes through the door a fully 45 minutes late and says goodbye to “the enemy”. They have a laugh and a joke about something that makes you even more uptight, the competition signs themselves out, gives you the once over and then leaves.

“Sorry about that, we’re ready for you now” says the decision maker. You take what seems is a very long walk with them, you have some banter about where you’ve travelled from and you finally end up in a boardroom of some sorts. There, on one side of the table are a further 2 people ready to grill you. Everyone looks tired and fed up. “Sorry to keep you waiting but we’ve been running over today. We’ve only got 20 to 30 minutes I’m afraid. I appreciate it’s not ideal but you’re the last person we’re seeing today”

Finally, it’s show time…

Has that ever happened to you?

If you’ve been in B2B sales for any length of time then I’m sure it has of some sorts.

How does it make you feel?

And are you prepared for it?

In my early sales career I used to really take it personally and I’d go into the meeting all defensive.

Nowadays I prepare for it in advance as part of my normal planning and preparation that I do for any meeting.

Here are a couple of things you can do…

Firstly, keep calm and level headed. Don’t let it show that you’re ready to give them a “clothes line” like Hulk Hogan used to do in the WWF!

Secondly, my advice to you is to prepare a “microwave version” of what you were planning to cover, just incase time is against you. Could your presentation or information fit onto 1 page of A4 in a type of infographic style presentation which would give the main bullet points, benefits and how it would all come together?

The look on their faces when you reach into your laptop case and pull out your 1-pager for this very eventuality will amaze them and will impress them because you did your homework.

And finally, another way to face this scenario is to ask them this question right up front:

“Seeing as I’ve only got 30 minutes now, could you please tell me the top 3 areas/priorities/points you’d like me to cover that are the most important to you?”

You preface your question with “Seeing as I’ve only got 30 minutes now” – this tells them that both parties understand that everyone else has had more time than you and that this puts you at a disadvantage and that they “owe you” something whether that message is on a conscious or sub-conscious level.

Get that phraseology right and they will reveal exactly what they are looking for and their hot buttons!

You can then respond with a no-fluff approach and get to straight to the point. You wont be able to cover everything that you have planned for so ask them what they want you to cover in the time available. This will give you some real clues into their buying criteria.

At times this type of situation can really work to your advantage if you know how to handle it of course!

Have you had this happen to you?

Would love to hear how you handled it.

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training | Image courtesy of Ambro at

450 sales questions free report

Originally published: 19 November, 2013

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