“You’ve got 5 minutes…”

A prospect who tells you that you’ve got five minutes is a good prospect.  He’s giving you a chance.

A good sales guy who knows his stuff can knock out the competition in those five minutes simply by respecting the time he’s been given.

Whether you’re trying to sell something, or you’re trying to sell yourself, here are 3 things you should remember when you’re on the attention clock.

It’s your job to earn more time.   Now is not the time to go into a full blown pitch, nor is it the time to roll out your life history.  If it’s a targeted prospect, and if you’re any good, you would have done some homework already and know what questions to ask.  Note I said, KNOW WHAT QUESTIONS TO ASK.  Not some bullshit elevator pitch.  Right after you’ve introduced yourself, get to the point.  You’ve got 5 minutes means ‘you have 5 minutes to tell me why I should give you more time later.’  Asking good questions when you’ve been given limited time makes the other person think about himself, which is something we all enjoy thinking about.  A random statement about how good you are or how great your product is makes the person roll his eyes.

“Don’t worry. I only look bored. Inside I’m totally jacked about how great you tell me you are.”

“Thanks for the five minutes.  I only need one for now.   I know you’re looking to hire a guy.  On paper I’m a fit but you’re not hiring a piece of paper.  Before I take up any more of your time, I’d like to know if how I operate works with your existing team.  What kind of personality are you looking for?”


“Thanks for the five minutes.  We could talk a lot longer about how our widget can help your company and I’ll try to earn the time to do so.  How do you currently (insert business function)?  And if it’s not perfect, what are some improvements you would make?”

He needs to remember you, not the details.  The best thing you can do in five minutes is create an impression.  Is your impression that of a dude who wants to jam product down his throat or is the impression you leave that of somebody who wants to do business?  Is the impression you leave going to be of some guy who’s desperate for a job or that of somebody who is intelligent, inquisitive and bringing him a solution?  Same goal.  Two approaches.  If you’ve got 5 minutes, what the person needs to remember is you’re somebody worth speaking to later.  Not some feature or benefit of your product or a line item on your resume.  If he really likes your product but doesn’t like you, he’ll buy it from some other guy.  If your resume is awesome but you come across as somebody he doesn’t want to work with, he’s not hiring you.  You’re interesting to him if you’re interested in him.  You’re only as interesting as the questions you ask.

What’s he taking with him?  If you give the guy the top 10 reasons why he should do business with you, you’re a clown.  If you can’t convince him with one good reason, you won’t do so with 10 mediocre ones.  Also, the best reasons are not the ones you think are best.  They’re the ones he thinks are best.  How will you know?  Just ask.  Whatever you tell him in those few minutes needs to travel forward in time; meaning that what you tell him needs to stick near top-of-mind until some action can be taken at a later date.  What’s the number one way to make your message highly forgettable?  Make it complicated.  Ask questions that lead to the one thing you want him to remember.

Respect the guy’s time.  Be someone who is a pleasure to talk with in those five minutes so he’ll want to talk to you again.