Next to “I’ll buy” the words “Let’s meet” are probably the most exciting words to a sales professional. Getting to hear those words from your prospects might be one of your sales challenges. I’ve been working recently with several clients on their appointment setting strategies. Here’s what works to get appointments.
Getting to Yes. I’ve seen research that says negotiations move faster when they move from agreement to agreement, rather than disagreement to agreement. Appointment setting is the same. If you can get a prospect to agree early in the conversation you will be more likely to get an appointment. Confirm your prospect’s job title with the receptionist. When the prospect answers the phone, introduce yourself (name and company) and then ask, “Bob, I understand that you’re the sales manager. Is that correct?” That’s the first opportunity your prospect can say “yes.” Little closes lead to bigger ones. By showing that you know the prospect’s job title, you also show him that you have prepared for the telephone call. That’s a compliment. To continue to build rapport, make sure to learn the language of the industry. Some industries have clients not customers. Others have agents not salespeople. You must be careful to use the correct language.
Transition quickly with a reason to listen. Get right to the point. Customers are busy and they don’t want to wait to learn the purpose of your call–and if talking to you is good use of their time. You could say, “The reason I’m calling is…” Identify the work you do in a compelling statement so the listener understands what you do. You could say, “I work with large organizations to shorten their sales cycle. I was able to reduce the sales cycle by 20% for a customer recently. I thought my work would be a match for your company. I wanted to speak with you to see if it would be.” You can identify the well known companies you work with or provide the name of the reference who suggested you call. Listen for interest. If customers ask questions, that’s one sign of interest. Prospects are interested if they’re agreeing by saying ‘yes,” acknowledging with uh-huh, or responding in some way. If silence follows, you had better have a question ready to engage your prospect in conversation. They’re not interested yet.
Sell one thing to the right customers. Setting up meetings with the right prospects is important. If you know who your ideal prospects are, ask questions to quickly qualify each prospect. The best prospects meets all your criteria. You should only set up meetings with prospects who meet most of your criteria. There’s one thing you don’t do on the phone. You don’t start selling. The point of your call is to get an appointment, not to sell on the phone. Resist talking about the actual sales presentation. Instead talk about why it’s important to meet.
Scheduling meetings with prospects is one of the most challenging parts of the sales process. Your job is to say the right things that get your prospects quickly interested. When you do, you just might hear, “I’m so glad you called” immediately followed by “Let’s meet.”