By Todd Brian Natenberg

Early in my sales career, it was sometimes  common practice for potential buyers to meet with salespeople..well...just because. The old joke in office equipment and telecommunications- 2 professions that at the time were often characterized as true "commodities" was some buyers just liked "terrorizing" salespeople. That and they had nothing better to do.  

On more than one occasion, a buyer sometimes said when I asked the ultra important question of why they agreed to meet with me, "Well, you asked." 

In the words of one of my favorite books by S.E. Hinton back in childhood things have changed. That was then and this is now. 

If you reach somebody live on the phone and they speak to you for more than a moment. If they reply to your text. If they respond to an e-mail with anything beyond, "I'm not interested. Have a nice day" - you have hit silver. It is your job to recognize that you now have the opportunity to turn it into gold. 

Think about your own buying habits today. In this crazy digital world with social media, 25 ways to connect (landline telephone, cell phone, text, e-mail, twitter, Facebook,  LinkedIn, Messenger, Google Chat, Google Hangouts - just the few I know at the age of 46), responsiveness is opportunity. 

Nobody takes the time to even respond anymore- let alone actually speak via phone or meet- unless they are truly interested. It's critical we recognize that.  If a potential buyer agrees to an in person appointment or even  a phone appointment, they are not just 50% of the way to being interested, they are 80% of the way to buying from you. 

Again, think about your own buying habits. When I meet with someone today with me as the buyer, I have already researched them on Linked In, ,checked out their website, examined closely their services and frankly am meeting only to determine if there's a reason  NOT to buy from them. 

So  what does this all mean? 

It means that when you get them on the phone live, when you schedule that phone appointment, when you run that appointment, you must be 100% ready to earn their business. You have to know every questions you want to ask, every piece of information you need to sign them up, and  have every document necessary at your fingertips.

It's not that you won't get a second chance to make a first impression. Its that you won't get a second chance period.  Whether you are selling  $250,000 telecommunications equipment, a $1 million  house as a realtor, asking them to turn over $2 million in a portfolio as a financial adviser or selling a mere $300 fax machine, you must be prepared for the crazy possibility they might just do the crazy: Buy from you. 

A few important preparation  strategies - whether it's on the phone or in person meeting:  

1.  When you make phone calls, do it with your computer in front of you so you have access to internet, note taking, and websites on the spot. 

2. Make a list ahead of time of every single piece  of information ideally you would  have from that individual you are calling (i.e.- buying process, their hot buttons, their needs, their time frame, their budgets) 

3. After you determine the information you would want, then make a list of every question you can ask to get that information.

Remember the 5 P's- preparation and planning prevent poor performance. Never has this been more critical.

Todd Brian Natenberg, President of TBN Sales Solutions, is the Author of the just released book, "I've been in sales for 10 years! Now what?" A (NEW) Playbook for Skyrocketing Your Commissions- endorsed by Brian Tracy and foreword by Roger Dawson. 

TBN Sales Solutions increases sales productivity for experienced professionals through customized training. He establishes step by step processes through private workshops for corporation, keynote speaking for associations and conferences and individual consulting to impact the bottom line. 

Visit for FREE sales tips. Todd can be reached in Kansas City at 913-735-4318 or e-mail