The Optimum Time to Sell

If We Determine When Prospects Aren’t Open to Buy, Our Experience Will Confirm It

By Peter Lyle DeHaan

Tyler, it seemed, was content to earn his base pay. He showed little incentive to close sales or earn any commission. Because he had one job to do—sell accounts—I expected his close rate would far exceed the office manager’s, who only handled sales when she had to, squeezing the task into her already too-busy day.

Yet Tyler merely matched her low sales numbers, if that. I expected him to close five times as much and hoped he would get ten. Instead, he merely maintained the status quo.

Author and blogger Peter Lyle DeHaan

When I reiterated to him the goal of closing one sale every business day, instead of two or three a month, he was quick with his response about why that wasn’t realistic.

“I can’t close any sales on Monday because everyone is always too busy after the weekend. They’re in recovery mode and don’t want to talk.”

I raised an eyebrow but that didn’t dissuade him from continuing.

“Fridays are just as bad because prospects are focused on wrapping up their week. The last thing they want to do is talk to a salesperson. They’re already thinking about their weekend plans.

“You just ruled out 40 percent of your work week.” I made no attempt to hide my dismay.

He didn’t take the hint to stop talking and plowed forward. “The first thing in the morning doesn’t work, nor the end of the day. Before and after lunch is bad too. And, of course, lunch is out.”

I shook my head, but he didn’t notice, or it could be he didn’t care.

“Wednesdays are bad too,” he said. “I haven’t figured out why yet. Maybe it’s some sort of midweek slump.” By now he was smiling at his great insights. I was not.

“So that leaves Tuesdays and Thursdays,” I said, not trusting myself to say much more and remain civil.

“Yep,” he said. “The ideal time to sell is on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons between 2 and 4:00 p.m.” He gave an excited upward tip of his head, as if to confirm his great wisdom.

“I disagree with your logic,” I said, “but even at that you have two opportunities to sell each week. That means you should have at least eight sales each month.

He shook his head. “Not every meeting will result in a sale.”

This was the first thing he’d said that I agreed with, but I wasn’t going to let him know. Instead, I pressed into his illogical assessment. “Today’s Wednesday. Who did you talk with yesterday afternoon?”

He hung his head and mumbled, “No one.”

“Who are you going to contact tomorrow afternoon?”

“I’m still working on that,” he said.

A good sales manager would have fired him on the spot. I didn’t. A few weeks later he saved me the trouble of doing so.

I’ve also had sales staff try this approach using a seasonal mindset. “August was bad last year,” they say. “Are all Augusts bad? That must be why my sales are down.” Sometimes they extend their logic to cover the whole summer, one fourth of the year.

Then they make similar excuses for any week that has a holiday in it, sometimes for the whole month. By that logic, they eliminate another 20 percent of the year.

Yes, sometimes it’s more difficult to close sales, but that’s no excuse not to try. If they think they’ll fall short, they surely will.

What if they tried a different tactic in August? What if they encouraged each prospect to prepare for fall by buying now? This way they’d have the decision behind them when they returned to work after Labor Day weekend. What a smart way to move into fall.

Don’t think about what you can’t do. Think about what you can do.

Sales Success Tip Your outlook determines your results. Don’t talk yourself out of having a good sales day, week, or month. Instead, expect success throughout the year. Plan for it, and you’ll be more apt to realize it.

Read more in Peter Lyle DeHaan’s Sticky Series books, including Sticky Customer ServiceSticky Sales and Marketing, and Sticky Leadership and Management featuring his compelling story-driven insights and tips.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an entrepreneur and businessman who has managed, owned, and started multiple businesses over his career. Common themes at every turn have included customer service, sales and marketing, and leadership and management.

He shares his lifetime of business experience and personal insights through his books to encourage, inspire, and occasionally entertain.

By Peter Lyle DeHaan

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, publishes books about business, customer service, the call center industry, and business and writing.