Avoiding Crisis Scheduling


It happens to the best of us: our weeks are beautifully laid out - meetings are stacked one after another with excellent prospects and clients. The potential for the week is palpable and you’re excited to get it off the ground.

But then the phone call comes in – your 2p Monday meeting has to cancel. And then the email from your 9a on Tuesday – he had to go out of town unexpectedly. And your biggest client asked if her Wednesday lunch could be moved to Thursday instead, which throws all your drive times completely out of control. Suddenly, your perfectly planned week looks like a salesperson’s nightmare.

It’s uncanny how it all seems to happen at once, but it does. Weeks and weeks of smooth sailing hit a brick wall when suddenly, your schedule falls apart.

So what do you do? You get on the horn and start trying to fill in those times as best you can, right?

Not so fast.

This is what we call crisis scheduling and it’s a big no-no. Of course, your first reaction is to save your calendar and get back on track – in theory, that makes sense.

But what’s going to happen when you start calling contacts for last-minute meetings? You’ll run into their crazy schedule too, of course. The chances of anyone having time to meet with you in the next 24-48 hours is slim-to-none and before you know it, you’ve spent an hour of your time making phone calls to fill three meeting spots – without success.

So what do you do instead? Cut your losses and forge ahead?

Not so fast on that, either.

Keep your top ten clients’ and prospects’ contact information handy and give them a ring. The time spent calling them for crisis scheduling could pay off. And if it doesn’t? Well, at least you’ve reached out to them and gotten your name on their desk.

And once you’ve called through the list – whether you’ve been successful or not – move on.

Focusing on keeping your calendar pushed two-to-three weeks out will always give you the best results. Scheduling further than that only leads to, “That’s too far away. Call as the dates get closer,” while scheduling any shorter than that leaves you small margins for getting squeezed in to already-tight schedules.

Aim for the 14-to-21-day sweet spot and don’t panic when your week falls apart – stay in control with quick back-up plans but don’t spend too much time ruminating. Onward and upward!

Tell us about a time your schedule completely fell apart in the comments below.

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