It sometimes seems we're asked just that when an agent asks to see the first 2, 5 or 10 pages of a book we know they'll love if they'll look at a few hundred pages. In the same way, we know an employer would love us if s/he'd skip the silly interview and take our word: we're dynamite and we can prove it. Likewise, when we try to hook up with some smokingly hot possible partner, if they'd skip the ridiculous games and just climb into bed with us...well, they'd certainly never regret it!
Most seductions are decided within a few seconds, or minutes, at most.
Most job interviews are decided at a glance or within a few answers.
And an agent doesn't need to read a few hundred pages to know if s/he cares to read more. Nor do the few pages requested have to have someone's head on a block or a triple homicide or the world's cutest cliffhanger. The sample requested may not even hit any operatic high notes. But it will have to hit the ground running in terms of authoritative tone, narrative force and stylistic mastery.
The best strategy we have, I think, is to knock the crap out of ourselves. To stop thinking we need a hundred more interview questions or a ceasefire on seduction games or compassion from agents who'll sit there and smile while we clear our throats and take our time in getting into gear.
No. Let's be cool, whip ourselves into shape, then send off whatever's requested, no more. It shouldn't take a lot of time for us to show our stuff. And we shouldn't feel a thing but thanks for anyone who'll read a word.