Okay. It took me years before I got this. Appointment setting is like building a case to go to trial. You must gather information first (lead generation) before you can actually set the appointment or close the case (sale). I´ve written about asking probing questions in my other columns so you´ll read more about it here. In order to have a "good appointment" several things need to happen. First"?¦.
You must meet with the decision maker. Nothing waste more time than meeting with someone with no buying authority. The best way to determine who that person is would be to simply ask.
Ex: Who is in charge of hiring outside vendors?
Who accepts the bids from outside contractors?
Who makes the final decision on budgets for ________projects? (graphic design, architectural contracts etc).
Any variation of these questions should work.
The prospect must also have a need for your services. The mistake that most telemarketers make is to give information about the product/service before knowing what the prospect´s needs are. They sell from fear of rejection instead of selling from the prospects needs. This is also the reason most telemarketers get hung up on because the prospect no longer feels as if they are being listened to. The only way to know what the prospects needs are is to ask probing questions
Ex: Tell me about your current experience with that product/service.
How often do you accept bids from outside vendors?
Is there any particular reason you´re looking to change vendors?
Open ended questions are usually best for allowing the prospect to tell you what they are looking for because it invokes a dialogue between you and the customers rather than a simple yes or no response. However sometimes you can´t ask an open ended question which is perfectly acceptable at times. The point is to keep the conversation ongoing.
Second, the prospect must feel as if the telemarketer is listening to them. This is perhaps the number one complaint of prospects and customers. You can´t sell someone a service or product without knowing what their needs are.
Next, the prospect must be looking to either take quotes or make a purchase within a 1-3 month period. Why 1-3 months? Because typically most sales regardless of the industry take 1-3 months to close from the time of the cold call to the signing of the contract and check. I think most sales people will agree that they would rather go to an appointment with a prospect who´s looking to buy sooner rather than later. These are the people you want to meet with now. If a prospect is looking to make a decision in six months or more, simply send info and be sure to follow up.
Finally, the prospect must have a budget to make the purchase. Wanting to buy and being able to buy are two different things.
Don´t worry if you don´t master this technique immediately. It may take a while to get the hang of creating the need. Having a targeted list of prospects guarantees even better results but more on that later. For now focus on getting to the right person and making sure they have a need and you´ll be ahead of the game.
Tony Wilkins is the author of "Telemarketing Success for Small and Mid-sized Firms available in most bookstores and online at www.amazon.com and www.xlibris.com you may also find out about his workshops and services at
http://stores.ebay.com/telemarketing-success via e: mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 415-267-4872 .If you´d like to be notified of a new posting for this column ,please contact Tony Wilkins at email@example.com