No More Cancelled Appointments? Send your P.A.L.


No More Cancelled Appointments? Send your P.A.L.

By Todd Brian Natenberg

"That was pretty cool, I must admit," my current sales training client said. "I'd love my people to do that."

"Wow! That is the most professional thing I've ever seen;," my current client said. "Talk about organized."

"I still remember the first time I heard the comment to this incredible sales strategy I have used and taught for the past 20 years:

"I'm meeting you for one reason and one reason only," my telecommunications client told me back in my days at LCI International/Qwest Communications. "That e-mailed agenda you sent was awesome. I've never gotten that. I thought if you are that prepared and professional, I have to meet with you to at least consider your services."

So what am I referring to? What I call the P.A.L.- Purpose/Agenda/Limit.

Now, I know you top consultants (notice how I don't say "salespeople." What's the difference? Absolutely nothing, right?)  will say they send an agenda before every formal appointment. But do you? I'm not talking about a loosy goosy e-mail or phone call before a meeting. I mean a professional, mutually respectful, agreed upon expectations and commitments to create a true partnership.

Here's how it works:

1. Pre send of the PAL - conversation prior to e-mail

This is critical. To utilize the PAL properly, verbiage must be used in person or via phone with your potential prospect.

You: "Terrific, John. I will look forward to our meeting Tuesday at 9 a.m. But as I don't want to waste your time or my time. They are equally valuable. Here's what II will do. I will send an e-mail confirming our meeting Monday by 12 p.m. If you change your mind for whatever reason, all I ask is you send me e-mail back or give a quick call. BUT if I don't hear from you, after I send the e-mail, you will see my smiling face (or if hear my smiling voice if it's phone/) on Tuesday at 9 a.m. Is that fair?"

Prospect: "Sure."

What's key is that they agree with what you just offered. Sometimes they may not. If they don't agree, great. Then the appointment may be solid anyway. But if it's "cancelled," it's not a cancellation. Because it was never an appointment anyway. After all, why would anyone not love this respectful strategy?

2. Subject line samples:

- Agenda for in person meeting with TBN Sales Solutions on Tuesday at 2 p.m.

-Agenda for phone meeting with TBN Sales Solutions on Tuesday at 2

Simple, isn't it? Remember 99% of subject lines are read on phones or tablets today. They will only open the e-mail if they know what it's about. But they will open it. Why? You agreed upon it the week before.

3. Body sample:


Per our conversation, this is to confirm our appointment on Tuesday at 2 p.m. at your office:

(List address, phone number)

If anything has changed, please call me at 913-735-4318. However, as agreed upon, if I don't hear from you, I will assume no news is good news and we are on as scheduled."

4. Purpose sample:

-"Review the sales training needs of your company as it relates to investing in TBN Sales Solutions"

"Finalizing an agreement to increase your sales productivity through customized training with TBN Sales Solutions

This is a critical step. It shows professionalism, preparation, and how it's about them not you. If it's first appointment, great. If it's a "closing" appointment, so be it. If it's a "consider mutual networking opportunities," so be it.

5. Agenda:

This is up to you. What's your agenda? Is it to learn about them? Is it to present your company? Is this a first meeting, a second meeting, a closing meeting, a networking meeting?

Most critical part of Agenda? Last thing. For instance, at TBN Sales Solutions, last step is often:

"Schedule training dates."

Too bold? Why not? Big surprise, friends, they know you are there to sell- and that's a great thing. What is selling? Selling is helping. Be upfront. They will appreciate it.

6. Limit samples:

- 1/2 hour

- 1 hour

Be realistic. Don't say 20 minutes if you need an hour. Be diligent nd concise, but don't overpromise and under deliver. Reverse it.

7. Attending:

Who will be there? List their names, their titles, their phone numbers- as well as your own. The more people that can attend a meeting (usually) the better it is. Yes, you don't want too many opinions stirring the pot, but if you have the entire decision making party in one room at same time, great!

8. Using the PAL at the meeting:

Here's what you do and say.

"Thanks for meeting with me, John. Did you get my e-mail? I brought a printout just in case. As I outlined,, here's what I want to do today. I'd like to learn more about your company and how I may or may not be able to help as it relates to sales training. Then I will share with you some potential solutions. If there's a good fit, we go from there. I have us slotted- as outlined- fore an hour. Does that still work for you?"

What do you think? I CHALLENGE you to try this strategy. Does this mean all meetings happen? Of course not. Do I get e-mails back prior to meetings to change agenda, change addresses, change times? Of course, but that's the beautify of it. It happens before.

I can count on one hand the thousands of times I've used this, showed up to the meeting, and there was no one there. And you know what even when that happened, I nearly always get a phone call back, an apology, an urgent family emergency as an explanation, and most of all a rescheduled meeting.

A "canceled" meeting that never should have happened in the first place is not a cancellation. It was never an opportunity.

The best consultants I know always know where they are in the sales process. No better way to know than to use your best friend: The PAL.








You can't get where you are going if you don't know where you want to be. If you don't know where you want to be, no roadmap will get you there. But before all of this, you have to know the answer to the most important question, "Why do you want to be anywhere?"

There is no better examples of this than the Rocky movies. With the latest installment of Creed, where the illegitimate son of Rocky's best friend, Appollo, seeks out the Italian Stallion for guidance, love, mentorhood and the image of the father he never knew, yet again it is only Rocky's purpose that takes him to rise above.

The Rocky saga could just as easily be called the how to succeed in sales saga.

Think about the parallels: Having a step by step process to succeed, focusing on the fundamentals, having daily, weekly and ultimate goals, having protégés and mentors, embracing your strengths and improving your weakness.

But when all is said and done, the #1 factor that puts Rocky as the champion in all the movies is first he is down, then he gets up, but then he is knocked down again. It is only when he rediscovers his true why - that he wins every time.

1. Rocky 1-

Purpose: To prove he is a somebody.

2. Rocky 2-

Purpose: Unfinished business to become champion

3. Rocky 3-

Purpose: Reclaim his legacy with Appollo's help (the famous Eye of the Tiger)

4. Rocky 4-

Purpose: Avenge his best friend's death against the Russian who killed him

5. Rocky 5-


This one is interesting if you remember the movie well. Rocky was only in 1 fight and that was in the street at the end. What cause him to fight? When Tommy punched Paulie in the face. "You want to fight somebody, how about me?" he says. "My ring's outside."

6. Rocky 6-


The famous "stuff still in the basement" speech.

7. Rocky 7 (Creed)


In this movie, Rocky almost dies. He trains Appollo's son but then decides to give up his fight against cancer. But when Adonnis says he won't fight unless Rocky fights, Rocky fights. His purpose was simple:  To save his adopted "son," he had to save himself.

See, we don't want success, money and fame because we just want it. We want it, so often to share with others. We want it, we need as salespeople. It quenches our thirst, but not for the greed some falsely say. Quite the opposite. It's what it means, what it does for us. It makes us significant- to meet our PURPOSE.



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, Foreword by Roger Dawson, Endorsed by Brian Tracy. He can be reached at or call 913-735-4318.

TBN Sales Solutions increases sales productivity for entrepreneurs, technology and office equipment companies, through customized training. We establish the critical value of step by step processes to improve confidence- through private workshops for corporations, individual consulting and keynote speaking for associations and conferences- to impact the bottom line.








How to read the #1 Buying Signal: Responsiveness

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 






The 4 Best Questions to ask on a Sales Appointment

By Todd Brian Natenberg

" People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. But showing  how much you care includes showing how much you care about yourself." 

Questions, questions and more questions are the key to sales. Correct? 20 years ago that  was the case. But while probing is essential, powerful probing is what separates spectacular consultants from good salespeople. 

So what does it mean to powerfully probe? It means understanding why we probe and what we are trying to accomplish- and this is the kicker- in  as short an amount of time as possible.  So why do we probe? 

1. Uncover needs

2. Uncover hot buttons

3. Understand the buying process

4. Build alignments to tie back  (People like to do business with people they like and people LIKE them). 

Sounds like a lot of questions are required, doesn't it? Says who? Remember  that the reason we  probe is to get answers, not to ask questions. If the prospect reveals the information we want, that's all  that matters. If we "probe" for 15 minutes without asking a questions or just a couple, but uncover what's needed, that's what matters. So  drum roll please. 

1. Question #1

"What is the key to your success?" 

Why is this great? Why isn't it? What do people like  to talk about more than anything? Themselves  of course.  And  this question- when you let them answer- will  reveal everything: 

a. How you align yourself with this person. 

b. How they buy  (And no one every says they are the cheapest around). 

c.  Their overall personality 

2. "What is your biggest challenge from a (whatever industry you are  in) perspective?" (i.e.- What  is your biggest challenge from a sales training perspective?)

What does this do? 

a.  Shows whether they have a need and if so what that need is

b. Whether they want a solution

If they have no challenges, they have no needs.  If they have  no needs, they have no need for solutions. 

3.  "For me to earn your business, what is important to you in the area of (i.e. sales training, telecommunications, office equipment)?"

Important is a very powerful word.  When was the last time someone asked what was important to you? Think about it. Does  it get any more personal or real? 

4.  "Let me summarize what you said. What is  important to you is...., what the key to your success is...what your biggest challenge is...Is this a good understanding of what matters? Did I miss anything?"

Wow! Now that's what I call  listening versus hearing. When you listen well, good  things happen. When you listen great, great things happen.   I CHALLENGE you, what's your goal? 



How to Double Your Prospects (with E-mail) in 1/2 the Time

E-mail is dead.  Or is it?

It's all about texting, social media, and in person meetings. Or is it? What is true is e-mail serves  a very different purpose than years prior. As recently as a year ago (on this blog) we taught e-mail was to be used for 2 purposes: Marketing and Accountability.

It's well understood- hopefully- that e-mail is never to be used for conversation. That is reserved for picking up the phone,  meeting in person and maybe texting. But while e-mail marketing, such as the Constant Contact type newsletter, is still out there, what's more effective is the blog you are reading here. Then sharing that blog throughout the digital world.

But accountability with e-mail reigns more supreme than ever. What do I mean by accountability?  Here's how to double your prospects with e-mail:

1. Subject line

Remember today, where are 95% of e-mails read? The phone of course.

So think about how small the reading area of an e-mail now is. Unlike the olden days where you would say a catchy "sales benefit" - like "increasing revenues"- the first 5 words now must say what the e-mail is truly about. For instance:

 -For TBN's customized PALS (purpose, agenda, limit)  we send before a meeting, "Agenda for in-person meeting Friday at 2 p.m."

-For post meeting thank you letters say, "Thanks for meeting in person; Followup and next steps"


2. Following up on subject line, e-mails now fall into 3 categories today when sending:

-Agendas before meeting (as noted above)

-Thanks for meeting with me in person or via phone (as noted above)

-Nice meeting you in person or via phone (informal quick conversation but actual dialogue)


3. Body of e-mail

If you send the correct subject line, the body of your e-mail will be read. So make it complete, succinct and effective. What do you say in the body?

-Summary of conversation/needs/desires of prospect

-Mutual agreements for next steps

-Any electronic documentation that was originally provided in hard copy (ideally, you have links to blogs or websites)


4. E-mail signature

If this is not complete you are missing an oppourtnity and you are angering your prospect at the same time for inefficiency. What should it include?

a. COMPLETE contact information- Name, Company, Title, Phone #, E-mail, Website

Yes, you should include your phone # and your e-mail.  50% of e-mails today are forwarded to others. Make it easy for people to buy and they will. Why make them work?

b. Initial benefit statement, website, your motto, and a link to your blog

Why would you not? You say you don't want to "bother" a prospect. Didn't we just say these aren't suspsects. These are prospects. Salespeople e-mail suspects. Consultants e-mail prospects. I CHALLENGE you: Which are you?






Client-consultant partnerships goes both ways

By Todd Brian Natenberg

Relationships. Ah, the buzzword in sales. The key to everyone’s success. But in understanding this pivotal words, let’s take a moment to identify the 3 different levels of relationships when it comes to business transactions:

-Buyers agree to meet with salespeople.

-Customers buy from vendors. 

- Clients seek help from their consultants

But see this “partnership” or“lack of” works both ways: Salespeople agree to meet with their buyers. Vendors are willing to sell to customers.  Consultants are excited to help their clients.

Unlesss both buyers and seller are at level 3, challenges will arise in all ways.  I’ve said it before but it’s important to say it again, top salespeople don’t just have a process, they know where they are in the process and understand how to get there.

 So let’s look at each of the relationships and make some observations about what to expect:

  • Buyers/Salespeople

At this step, appointments are often canceled without the buyer giving the salesperson the proper respect and consideration.  Case in point:

Recently, I had a buyer cancel an appointment- after double confirmation with an e-mailed agenda the day before and agreed upon Outlook Invite 1 week before- with an e-mail sent to me 1 hour before saying they had to cancel. There was no courtesy phone callor even text. Clearly the prospect only viewed me as a salesperson.

  • Customers/Vendors

At this step, the customers want to buy from the vendors. Typically, this is an ongoing relationship with multiple ongoing transcations. In this case, the customer wants the vendors services, but only when they want it. If you call the customer and they are in the mood they will call you back. But when they call or reach out, they demand a return call on the spot.

  • Clients/Consultants

This is the arrival stage. This is where the clients value your service. They wouldn’t think of canceling a meeting. Even if they aren’t paying you and this is still a prospect stage, they view you as an authority with a medical type degree and you get thanked for meeting with them. They return calls, seek you out and it is true mutual respect.

Now, let’s talk about the reverse through the buyer’s perspective.

  • Salespeople/Buyers

Here, the saleperson doesn’t send an agenda, doesn’t do the Outlook Invite and is sometimes late for the buyerr’s meeting. They don’t value themselves and feel the only reason the buyer is even meeting is out of courtesy. They apologize frequently for being a salesperson.

  • Vendor/Customer

Retail or another non-saleperson type role fits in this category. This is where the vendor is rude, abrasive and they idea of “you being the customer is irrelevant.” It’s all about them and they think they are doing you a favor by taking their money.

A couple recent examples:

-Kansas City Royals game

During the World Series, yes we were at game 2, we took a few minutes to play some games in the carnvial type atmosphere in the back of the stadium with our 4 year old twin sons. Naturally, there wasn’t more than a handful of children participating- as most parents wanted to take advantage of their $500 tickets.

But still the carnival people charged us $2 per event.  None of the machines were working, such as the timing clock for the kids to race on bases.But when I asked them, how they could charge us after we just spent a fortune on the tickets, rudely they complained,, “Well, we still have to work here. They have to pay our salary.”

A $800 million organization with ballplayers making $20 million/year and they are complaining to us? Yes, I don’t think they viewed me as a “client.”


Flight attendants, TSA workers and counter people are notorious for being obnoxious. They will threaten to kick you off flights for looking at a cell phone with wheels grounded, get upset at you for having the gall to ask why the flight is delayed for 2 hours, and then look at you with disdain for wanting any kind of reimbursement for a 10 hour delay. Whatever happened to the "customer is always right?" That's the problem. They only view you as a customer. -Doctor’s offices


You may be surprised that I put the some doctors in this category, but absolutely. You may respect them, but do they respect you? They will cancel their appointment on you with no explanation, but it’s not a two way street.  They will make you wait 2 hours even though you have a meeting but if you are late, they charge you. Their time is more valuable than yours. They are in a hurry. They are doing you a favor by treating them.

  • Consultant/Client

Here everybody wins. The consultant respects the client, learns from the client as much as the client learn from the consultant, and everybody’s time is respected.  There is no “doctor double standard” where the doctor can cancel at any time, but you have to give 24 hours. This is a true partnership.

It’s only when there is a true consultant/client and client/consultant reverse partnership that we can proudly say to one another, “I don’t want to waste your time or my time. They are equally valuable."  After all, aren't' they?



The Best Kind of Business Card

By Todd Brian Natenberg

With social media and the digital are in full bloom, many question the need for business cards at all. But a need there still is. The difference between now and 10 years ago if your business card is not effective, it is a hindrance. How so?

Business cards today are used for 3 reasons only:

  • First impression
  • Branding
  • Contact information

Let's take these 3 one at a time.

1. First impression- When you hand someone a business card after a quick conversation, their immediate thought is whether this is a professional they want to work with or refer business to. To ensure that first impression, I recommend the following:

Sounds basic, but it must have all the necessary basics on the FRONT of the card (name, phone number, title, e-mail, company name, website and in this day and age a regional address such as Kansas City, MO is fine).

- More often than once I don't even see an e-mail on the card. This immediately hollers lack of professionalism.

-You must have a professional e-mail (not Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, etc.). Again, this is a red flag that hollers lack of professionalism. If you own your own company, it immediately shows you aren't serious.

-You must use the space on the back of the business card: It's too valuable and too strong a free advertisement not to include to emphasize that first impression.

2. Branding

- Your business card should match your website, your e-mail signature and your LinkedIn profile. Colors are good, photos are good- if that's your thing- but the idea is "branding." Repetition, repetition and repetition.

In my case, I gladly like being known as the "I just got a job in sales! Now what?" (title of first book) guy and the "I've been in sales for 10 years! Now what?" guy (title of second book).

-The back of my business card has my benefit statement, a picture of my latest book cover, and our motto- "Are your sales people busy or are the productive?"

3. Contact information

Specifically your work phone, cell phone, and e-mail must be on your card. I recently did some business with the CFO of one of the largest telecommunications company in the world  and even he had his cell phone on his business card.  (In this day and age, texting can be an effective form of communications- but that is for another blog)

Cards that don't have phone numbers, e-mails or websites- being upfront- I toss them instantly. If someone doesn't get the basics, while I appreciate where they are at, they aren't a good lead, referral source or even someone that I can truly help.

That's what the business card is truly for: Helping others. Hey, isn't that what sales is all about?



How to Overcome the Psychology of Selling

"What has been the key to your sales success?" I asked my new friend at a recent Meetup networking event.

"Oh, I don't sell. I develop relationships," the insurance agent "countered."

"Me, too. I educate others. I don't sell," the financial planner chimed in.

In the words of Charlie Brown, "Aagh!"

Selling is helping. Developing relationship and educating others are important steps in the process, but they certainly are selling- in a terrific way. 

Remember that the words we speak determine who we are, what we do, how we perceive ourselves- and of course how others perceive us. If you don't believe in what you offer, why would anybody else? If you believe why would anyone want to talk to an insurance agent, a financial planner, a mortgage broker, a phone salesperson, they why would they? Any time you "pride yourself" on "not" being a salesperson, that's a red flag to those you speak to. 

It hollers unprofessionalism, a lack of confidence and can actually be an insult.  Why? Because everybody is a salesperson- in a great way. 

I will never forget a prospecting seminar I conducted recently to a 50 person telecommunications company that included the CEO, 3 sales managers, a VP of Marketing and 40 salespeople. I asked everyone to introduce themselves and their title. When it came time for the CEO to speak, he proudly said, "I'm James Shaver and I'm in sales." 

So why do salespeople often apologize and not fully appreciate that the difference between a consultant and a salesperson is only our own perceptions and that of others?

The answer isn't merely a lack of a selling process, because everyone claims they have a process. The issue is to be truly spectacular at selling and to get over your own blockage, you must recognize where you are IN the process at any given time. 

Yes, developing relationships and educating are part of the process. But so is the scripted initial benefit statement to suspects, prospecting to first contacts, cold calling to empower gatekeepers, uncovering needs through challenging questions to warmer prospects and asking for the order. 

You can't get where you are going if you don't know every step of where you want to be. 

The quicker you realize that, the more clients you will have. Let me correct that, the more people you will HELP.



"How to Double Your E-mail Prospects in 1/2 the Time" - Wednesday, Oct. 14 at 1 p.m. (FREE program live in Overland Park, Kansas)

The KC Rainmakers Referral Group's purpose is to help grow each member's business.

Guest Speaker - Todd Natenberg
Scheduled: 10-14-2015

o   How to Double Your E-mail Prospects in 1/2 the Time.

§  How salespeople should use e-mail for maximum results.

YP Office –
8700 Indian Creek Pkwy, Bldg #3, Suite #290
Overland Park, KS 66210