Setting up appointments for sales success

Posted in Sales techniques and processes.

Many sales reps have the wrong perception of what the goal of an appointment call is. There is a belief that it is to get a sale, overcome objections the client has or to qualify a sale. However, an appointment call is exactly what the name says, a call to get an appointment. Changing one’s perception of this type of call can save a lot of time and may help to get around some stumbling blocks that can only be done when you are in front of the client.

There are simple things that sales reps can do when calling someone to set up an appointment. Plan your calls in advance. When you are hesitant and wavering when talking to a prospective client, you will frustrate them and seem unprofessional. Plan your beginning, your ending and how you will keep a person on-track if the conversation veers in the wrong direction. Always ask whether the client has a moment to talk to you. Listen for the answer instead of using it as a default opener and then proceeding without knowing what the response is.

Always indicate the purpose of the call, which is to gather information and build rapport. You are trying to see whether what you are offering is of interest or benefit to the prospect and not to sell anything yet. If you are to mention anything about your product, mention only the benefits it will provide your prospect and not the features. Talking about the features is a hard sell and not what you want to achieve with this phone call.

One of the things that sales reps do wrong when calling for an appointment is to launch immediately into a string of reasons why the product or service is just what the client needs. Assaulting someone with words is not going to win you an appointment or a sale. Introducing your company and product should be short and sweet since the real pitch only comes once you have an appointment. Giving a person too many reasons to choose your product all at once may make them think that you are more interested in your own needs than in theirs.

Asking questions that may lead you to a problem or challenge the person is experiencing within their company can help both you and your client. On the one hand, it may help them realise that they have a need for your product or service and on the other hand allow you to see whether they are indeed a viable prospect to pursue.

Also, another thing that can be problematic is ignoring the person on the other side’s resistance or objections to setting up an appointment. There is a wrong and a right way to handling these. If the client resists with a comment such as, “We don’t the money right now”, don’t respond with easy payment options and plans. Rather try telling them that it isn’t about the money but only about introducing your company to them now and giving them options for when they do have the means to explore it in the future. This reassures the prospect that you are not just out to get a sale and make your quota.

When calling a prospect be respectful of their time. The people you are calling are likely to be very busy people who have handled hundreds of sales calls like yours before you came along and will likely feel that you are going to waste their time just like the others. Have a sense of urgency to indicate that you are indeed also a busy person and you know that they are too so you will make the call brief and to the point. Don’t ever give specific times when setting up an appointment. Instead of saying, “It will only take an hour”, rather say “It will take a matter of moments”. This will help them feel like it will take up less of their time than if you give a specific number.

Try to match the communication style of your prospect. If they talk rapidly, speed up your pace. If they are being humorous, show your funny side (in a tasteful way, of course). If they are no-nonsense type of people, get to the point of the call immediately. This is called mirroring. For some reason, people like things and other people that remind them of themselves. It provides a sense of security and trust. If you match their ways, they will be more readily accepting of you and feel like they trust you as they trust themselves.

Pretending that you are meeting with the person face-to-face (even though it is only a phone call at this point) will help to change your demeanour. It help you to smile more, have good posture and be more aware of what you say and how you say it. If you feel someone is watching you, you will less inclined to do certain things.

There are many things that you need to consider when placing an appointment-setting call. Not everyone can be great at getting appointments but planning and a good script (something which we will discuss in another article) is the key to getting it right most of the time.