The Upper Hand
Setting Appointments Successfully
According to scholars, there was a simple game of chance in ancient times where each player took a turn grabbing a stick, one hand above the next. The last person able to grab the stick was the winner; they had the "upper hand."
That phrase has survived for hundreds of years, with the first figurative usages appearing in the late 1400s. It is now synonymous with having the advantage over someone else. In a game of chance, the "upper hand" is determined randomly. But in business relationships, as in life, we can seize the "upper hand" with wise actions. While we tend to associate the phrase with someone being exploitative or domineering, you can also use the "upper hand" to be gracious and to better serve your clients.
One of the easiest times to do this is when setting appointments. In our efforts to be serviceable or gracious, we can mistakenly appear unoccupied, and perhaps even desperate. Saying, "I'm free ANYTIME!" smacks of such desperation. Instead, try the following:
Suggest the time yourself.
You can still be flexible, perhaps offering more than one time to give them a choice. If none of these times work, then you can ask them to suggest a time.
Show them your calendar.
Of course, if you have limited openings, it shows how busy you are. This translates into "successful" in the minds of your clients. This is assuming your schedule is fairly occupied.
There's a reason your doctor's office calls and sends reminder post cards before your appointment - they want to make sure you show up! Why shouldn't your time be respected as much as your doctor's time?
By practicing these techniques, I believe you'll find it easier to steer the relationship in a friendly, non-offensive way. Most importantly, it allows clients and prospects to make a choice or decision, and thus feel that they are sharing control of the relationship.
I hope these strategies help you keep the upper hand in your business relationships, and
better serve your clientele.