“Nobody wants to answer the phone!” “I can’t get anyone to talk to me!” “All I get is voicemail and no one calls back!” Any of these sound familiar. The challenge of setting good appointments for sales meetings is not new. Getting the opportunity to meet with prospects has been the professional sales person’s dilemma forever. But great salespeople have an effective system for setting appointments.
Who Do You Want To Meet With?
When you have developed a list of prospects who benefit from what you are selling, then you can begin setting appointments for sales meetings. Great salespeople know the characteristics of prospects making them good candidates for a sales pursuit. Referrals from your good customers are the highest priority. Then others who are like your best customers are the second tier. Your boss may have a target list for you or marketing will have prospects having contacted your company.
What’s The Reason To Meet With You?
Great salespeople know the value of the product or service they sell. And they can effectively communicate that to prospects. We all know “everybody is busy!” So why would a prospect want to set aside time from their busy day to meet with you? What do you bring to the sales meeting that will help them meet one of their goals? Great salespeople know how to sell the value of setting appointments from the prospects point of view.
Make A Game Of Setting Appointments
Ok, selling is serious business but adding a little sport helps great salespeople keep their schedule full. For prospects you don’t know the telephone is the best way to get their attention and get on their calendar. By speaking with them you can begin building rapport and gathering qualifying information. Great salespeople are persistent. Here are tips to make the challenge of setting appointments for sales meetings by phone a bit more fun.
- Call everyday until you reach the prospect
- Call at different times of day until they answer
- If the prospect doesn’t know you, don’t leave a voicemail
- Use the companies general number to ask the receptionist to put you through
- Call another person you may know at the company and ask to be transferred to your prospect
Great salespeople rise to the challenge of getting the prospect on the phone.
Some Sales People Are Creative
I’ve heard many legends of how great salespeople broke through a barrier to meet with a prospect. If you have the creativity and courage to try an unusual move, go for it. Here are a few stories I’ve heard: A sales rep brings a pig along with him to get attention. The receptionist says to the prospect: “you gotta come out here and see this guy with a pig.” Another great salesperson brought in a birthday cake with flaming candles. When told it wasn’t the prospect’s birthday, he had a clever retort to get an audience with the prospect. A sales rep brings in a box with holes in it and a sign on top: live bird inside. She leaves it with the receptionist to be delivered to the prospect. When opened the prospect doesn’t find a bird but a note: “just like you missed the bird, if you don’t meet with me you will miss a great opportunity.” Most great salespeople get appointments without using creative tricks. But if nothing else works and the potential payoff is worth it, give it a shot.
You Have To Earn The Appointment
Once the prospect answers the phone (or comes out to see the pig!) you need to be ready to convince the prospect to meet with you. Great salespeople script the conversation for setting appointments. Not that they read the script like a bored telemarketer. The script is an outline of the points they want to cover, questions that stimulate curiosity and the value proposition benefitting the prospect. Great salespeople know the reason for the call is to set a time to meet. They do not attempt to sell the product or service when setting appointments. Once a day and time is set, great salespeople, confirm the sales meeting time, thank the prospect and hang up.
What You Can Do Right Now
- Set aside time everyday to set appointments
- Ask for referrals; they are the easiest meetings to schedule
- Be persistent in attempting to reach prospects
- Prepare an appointment setting script to present value in meeting with you
To learn more sales secrets see Chapter Fifteen, Setting Appointments, in Secrets of the Softer Side of Selling. For even more sales help, join our FREE Sales Club! “See” you next week.
Don Crawford & Lois Carter Crawford