Setting Appointments And Overcoming The “Go Fish” Mentality

setting appointments

Did you play Go Fish when you were a kid?

The game where you hold cards in your hand and the other player(s) asks you if you have any Kings, Nines, etc. When you have the card they call out, you have to give them your card(s). When you don’t have the card the other player calls out, you say, “Go Fish” and the player has to add another card to their hand. The winner of the game is usually the person who out guesses the other player(s). What could setting appointments and Go Fish have in common?

The reason for the reminder of the game and how it’s played is so when you read the rest of the article, you'll see how this common communication pattern may be costing you business. Most people with a “Go Fish” mentality aren't even aware of it.

Here's an example of a “Go Fish” conversation: At the end of March, I called to make an appointment with my Dentist. A nice woman answered the phone and when I explained the purpose of my call she asked the standard question, “When would you like to come in?”

This is how the rest of the conversation went:

Me: How about next Friday anytime between 9 am and 2 pm.

Her: I’m sorry, the Dr. is full that day. Is there another day that works for you (Go Fish)?

Me: How about either Monday of the following week or Wednesday?

Her: The Dr. is full both of those days, is there another day (Go Fish)?

Me: How about you tell me the first available appointment in the Dr.’s schedule (You Go Fish)?

Her: The first available appointment is Monday, April 25.


Her intentions are good, and she thinks she's helpful. When in fact, she's breaking down rapport every time she asks me for something only to tell me it's not available. What could either of us possibly have to gain by this back and forth guessing game and how long might it have taken me to finally land on April 25?  I don't enjoy playing this game as a client/patient/customer. Isn't her job to make it easy for me when setting appointments? When I'm in her position of scheduling my clients, I know it's my job to make it easy for them to work with me.

What are you doing/saying when a client calls to make an appointment with you? Are you giving them options or are you asking them to tell you when they want to come in? For those asking clients when they want to come in, you are forcing them into a Go Fish situation and may be diminishing rapport and potentially damaging the relationship.

Here’s one more form of this Go Fish mentality and may be even more common than the first example.

During a coaching call with one of my VIP clients last week the client shared her frustration about an interaction she had with a possible partner for an upcoming event. My client said she was excited when someone she respected reached out via email about the possibility of collaborating. In addition, the person reaching out asked my client for information on an unrelated topic. My client took the time to craft a thoughtful response which included expressing her interest in the collaboration and suggested they set up a time to talk on the phone. She also gave the answer to the unrelated question. The response she received back was “Thank you.”

Her frustration was about why the woman didn’t acknowledge her request for a phone call. We reviewed her well-crafted email, and it turns out she never gave specific dates or times for a phone call. She wasn't thrilled and yet understood when I explained the reason she didn't get an appointment set up was because she didn't do the work. She gave a vague response which the person either ignored or missed (more likely).

The idea of saying to someone, “We should set up a time to chat” is saying, “Go Fish.” The common response to “we should set up a time to chat” is often, “yes, let's do that” – this is another “Go Fish” And people, you can play this game for hours, weeks, months and never get an actual appointment scheduled.

Your Savvy Sales Tip this week is about setting appointments without playing Go Fish:

The most effective way to set up a meeting is to start by giving the other person specific dates and times for the meeting. This allows them to look at their calendar and then quickly assess which time is available and respond with the preferred appointment time. Now, you have an actual appointment. This simple, yet incredibly important step is what's needed for you to do business together.

 setting appointments

When you leave it open or vague, you're asking your client to take the time to come up with available times in their schedule, send them back to you, then you have to check your schedule and get back to the client. It's too much back and forth and each time you do this, you significantly decrease your chances of ever actually meeting.

The “Go Fish” mentality just doesn't work when setting appointments.

Take it upon yourself to be the one that stops this in its tracks.  Do the work – you find the available times and suggest them. It takes extra effort on your part, AND you'll find you're meeting with more of the right people. This will lead to closing more business.

Please reach out and let me know how this works for you.

Wishing you a successful week this week.



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