Breakthrough Selling: Got Five Minutes? Get More

Brevity is important, and salespeople know it. Clients are busier than ever, with more demands competing for their time and attention. In an effort to be part of the solution, salespeople do their best to assure clients that what they want to talk about, propose or present will only “take a few minutes.”

Could you be doing more harm than good?


Not many important concepts or ideas can truly be discussed in “just five minutes.” You know this, and your client knows this. Trying to do so undermines the value you are attempting to create. You’ve essentially said to your client, “You’re busy and probably can’t devote the right amount of attention to this, but I’m gonna try to cram it in anyway. Whaddya say? Good.”

Then you talk as fast as you can about features, benefits, specs, and pricing. Eventually, you take a breath and say, “What do you think?”

And the client responds with, “Well, things are hectic right now (you just interrupted me remember), so I’m going to have to think about it further when I have more time.” If you don’t value the product, service, or idea enough to give it more than a five-minute monologue, why should your client?


Before any client is going to believe you are valuable, you need to believe in yourself first. The ability to create value is more than just your product, service, or information. It’s also your body language, your presence and your actions. It’s your values, convictions, and communication skills. If what you have to say is important, treat it that way.


Have a five-minute plan. Too many times we use every interaction as an attempt to sell something or close. The old Always Be Closing approach doesn’t work anymore. Rather, use the five minutes to create a reason to schedule a 30- to 60-minute meeting. Create a compelling reason to extend the conversation.


Here’s how that approach might look: “Greg, I was hoping to catch you at a good time, but I can see you’re busy. I stopped in to talk about a strategy some of my clients are using with one of our products to generate word-of-mouth business. Based on what I know about your business, I think it’s something you can use, but it’s going to take more than five minutes to discuss. Do you have time one day this week or next where we can schedule 30 minutes to an hour to meet? I’ll walk you through it. If it makes sense and you want to explore it further, we’ll talk about next steps. If not, that’s OK too.

But be prepared. Some clients might be very interested in what you said and might ask for more info on the spot. It’s a trap. Don’t fall for it. Instead you can say: “Greg, I’m happy you want to hear more, but I’d be doing you a disservice by trying to squeeze it into a few sentences. I value our relationship and your business too much to do that. I won’t be able to give you the whole story, and you won’t necessarily have all the information to make a good decision one way or another. Let’s get something scheduled soon and we can talk about it in detail.

Five minutes isn’t a long time, but it’s plenty if you use it correctly.

MENTOR July 2016;7(07):5.

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