Obtaining an appointment with a sales prospect can be challenging. The prospect is often very busy and they may not be interested in scheduling an appointment when first approached. However, there are a number of appointment setting tips which can increase your chances of securing an appointment and developing new business relationships.
The following tips for effective appointment setting covers a selection of the best practice techniques and some might even prove a useful addition to your sales strategy.
Time is a very valuable commodity
It is important to remember that time is a very valuable commodity for most managers and business owners. They don’t have time to waste on frivolous sales calls and are only interested in taking an appointment if they believe it will strongly benefit their business.
This is where having a reliable script for appointment setting comes in handy – it allows you to structure your approach smartly and avoids wasting the time of people you contact. As you go through the following appointment setting tips, always focus on clarity and brevity. Placing value on your prospect’s time can also help you gain their respect, which is equally important for securing an appointment.
Tip #1 – Establish and cultivate your contacts database
To develop a relationship with a sales prospect and gain their respect, it helps to develop a deeper understanding of who they are. Cultivate a contacts database (or CRM system) that includes all of their contact details and any other information you can discover about them – their hobbies, their business relationships, the people they know and so on.
When you call that prospect, you will have some additional information that helps you develop a relationship with them. The contact database should also contain any previous correspondence you have had with the prospect and notes on previous phone conversations. If you don’t have the resource to manage this why not look at CRM data entry outsourcing ?
Tip #2 – Make your initial contact via mail
This is one of the most important tips for effective appointment setting. You don’t want the first contact to be via the phone, because the prospect is very unlikely to talk at length to a person they have never heard of before – particularly if they are a busy manager.
Depending on the type of prospect it might be more effective to send a gift as an initial step to help establish a relationship with the prospect. If you think this is something that would work for your strategy make sure it’s something the prospect would like to keep and include your business card. Then a week later send a follow up letter before you make the initial phone call.
Tip #3 – Prepare for the phone call
When a busy manager or business owner receives a phone call, they will quickly evaluate the nature of the call. If they believe you are selling something or wasting their time, they will often hang up in a matter of seconds.
You must speak in a way that separates you from the many other sales calls they may have received that day. Have your script ready and mentally prepare yourself to be high energy, clear and concise.
Tip #4 – Make the phone call
Another one of the most important appointment setting tips is to remember the initial phone call must be on-topic. Don’t spend time talking about subjects irrelevant to landing that appointment. Focus on being succinct, professional, and confident. Talk to the prospect as a business person with whom you have equal footing and don’t try to sweet talk them.
Speak as if you are a busy person who has a great opportunity that will help their business. Once they understand that the opportunity you are introducing could benefit them they will be more likely to offer you an appointment.
As you call the prospect, have your contacts database and calendar open. Be ready to take notes as you talk to the prospect and listen intently to what they are saying. Always have a clear goal in mind – getting the prospect to give you that appointment!
When you write your script, be prepared for pushback from the prospect and have strong counter-arguments ready. Remember to speak with urgency to save their valuable time and focus on the most compelling part of your offer.
Tip #5 – Make contact immediately after locking in an appointment
You might have done a great job on the phone call and locked in and secured an appointment, but you shouldn’t relax just yet. You now have to ensure the appointment date remains intact! Immediately send an email thanking the sales prospect for their time and confirming the appointment date. If possible, include an electronic meeting request which can be added directly to their electronic scheduling software.
The email should also include the address of the meeting, the start time, the approximate end time and a subject line promising a “quick” meeting. Make sure your prospect understands that the meeting won’t take very long and you appreciate them giving you some of their time.
It is often useful to colour code the appointment emails in the software application you are using so discussions involving appointments are clearly marked. Add the appointment to your calendar and also place a “contact prospect” reminder on the day before the appointment. When the day before the appointment rolls around, you will send them another email and you may wish to spend some time preparing for the meeting.
We hope some of these appointment setting tips have helped with your own appointment acquisition objectives. If you are looking for a provider of B2B appointment setting services or would like to know a little more about how we support our own client’s business appointment setting strategies feel free to call us on 0800 994 9016 or click here to request a free consultation.