I had been working on breaking into a major competition account and had visited them a number of times when they introduced ‘dress down Fridays’. This involved the usual formal attire of business suits and ties making way for smart casual shirts, blouses and suits being replaced by slacks and jackets.
As noticeable as this was, there was another immediate impact in that the people, all of which were graduates through to senior executives, acted in a decidedly more casual manner. From typically being very business-like and structured, Fridays quickly became a day where you were hard pushed to get a decision on whether someone wanted full fat or semi-skimmed milk in their coffee, let alone a decision to invest in a new piece of capital equipment or to change a working method or supplier. People simply left their business brains at home with their formal attire! So the conclusion could be drawn that a Friday was a bad day to visit them and talk business. In fact, my colleagues and boss told me so. For me however Friday visits to this prospect became a regular habit.
The thing that I’d observed was that whilst they left their decision making traits at home, next to it must have been their usual ‘tight lipped’ reserve that prevented them revealing things that might give a supplier some angle; something to differentiate their offer on. For they knew that if they did this it would lessen their ability to negotiate prices down (they had no doubt been schooled in the technique of giving nothing away!)
Fridays became information day. All the things that I would meet resistance on and get objections to during the week could be revisited on a Friday. As my contacts sat in a slightly more slouched posture, so they relaxed in responding to questions that they or their colleagues had deliberately avoiding answering between Mondays and Thursdays. I would schedule getting commitment on those days when people were in the zone to evaluate and commit and leave Fridays for filling in the missing pieces to give me the best chance of success when I was to ask for business.
Recognise if there are better and worse times for your activity and results and make the necessary changes as I did. For me and my employer at the time it resulted in finally breaking in to a market where we’d been excluded for 20 years in favour of a competitor who’d developed the business initially and serviced the customer well ever since. I did though notice that when I signed in the visitors’ book on a Friday the incumbent supplier never seemed to visit that day … probably because ‘they knew’ it was a bad day for doing business!