Then things start going wrong.
The meeting starts late. Some of the planned group don’t attend even though they are in the department. The ones who do show up seem distracted. What do you do?
Keep Calm and Carry On?It's tempting to push ahead. After all, you’re ready. They need your help. Your presentation is powerful. They’re bound to be swayed and able to convince the decision makers who aren’t there. Maybe … but you're taking a big risk. You can't tell how receptive they are because you don't know what else is going on in their heads.
If you're giving a pitch and they're not listening, stop.
You gain little by continuing. Maybe they never really wanted to see you. If they agreed to meet, that seems unlikely because their time is valuable. It’s more likely that something unexpected happened.
We can't tell what's going on in someone's life. There could be a personal emergency or a work crisis. You don't know. Maybe they decided to buy from someone else.
Another TimeThey may tell you to proceed anyway and ask for handouts for the ones who aren’t there. Is complying in your best interest? You risk diluting your impact.
Consider rescheduling. This is difficult if you flew in from another city but easy if you're local. Yes, you wasted your travel time but you’re giving them a valuable gift: unexpected free time. You invoke reciprocity, the #1 universal principle of influence. They’ll likely agree to meet again. They may even reveal why they’re unprepared at the moment.
By rescheduling, you show that you’re observant, generous and considerate. Isn't that the sort of person they want to do business with?
Next TimeWhat will you do differently next time? If potential clients tend get distracted by the bustle in their office, pick a different location. If they get answer each phone call, pick a quieter time. When they're out of their environment and deviating from their normal routine, you have a better chance at their attention.
When do you get the best results in business meetings? Maybe mornings early in the week beat afternoons late in the week. If you're not able to schedule a meeting at an optimal time, maybe you're better off waiting until you can. If they're busy in the morning, how about meeting for breakfast before their normal day starts?