If you’re in sales, you need to schedule appointments. In all likelihood, the more appointments you have, the more sales you close and the more money you make. Unfortunately, scheduling time takes time!
In fact, it often takes a LOT of time. When you schedule appointments with prospects, what does the process look like? For most people, it looks like this: You open your calendar, look for available time, hand-type several options of days and times into an e-mail and then send the e-mail on to your prospect. Then you wait to hear back as to which option is acceptable. If no option works with your prospect’s calendar, you are offered several alternate options in the e-mail reply to you. This could take a few rounds of back and forth to find a mutually convenient time. Meanwhile, your prospect is busy and so this becomes a chore – or worse, enough time passes that his or her interest starts to wane.
It’s imperative that a sales rep talks with the prospect as close to the moment the prospect declares an interest as humanly possible in order to avoid these two consequences. The ability to quickly schedule an appointment accomplishes two things;
- you’re more likely to advance the sale because of the timeliness of your follow-up and
- you have more time which means you can schedule more calls. More calls — that are timelier — equal more sales.
For an individual sales performer, nothing would be better than to have the scheduling magically take care of itself. Appointments would flow into your calendar with little or no action on your part. In my experience, that’s what happens with TimeDriver
TimeDriver is for sales professionals, entrepreneurs, executives, consultants, service providers and anyone who wants to invite others to schedule a sales demo, account review, phone consultation or other sales interaction.
It’s a Web-based software program that works as an online personal appointment scheduler. I find it extremely easy to use and addicting.
It’s simple to e-mail appointment invitations and see appointments flow back into your Google, Outlook or Salesforce calendar. With TimeDriver, you’ll see meeting confirmations appear on your calendar with no further action required on your part. I love this software. In fact, we named TimeDriver our Smart Selling Tools HotPick for December. Best of all – TimeDriver costs just $29.95 per year.
However, there are times when scheduling involves a much more complex process. Perhaps you need to coordinate a meeting that needs to include you, your prospect, a sales engineer and a client support manager.
These types of appointments are extremely time-consuming to coordinate. Instead of offering discrete times – you need to search for common availability.
TimeTrade (makers of TimeDriver), ScheduleOnce and TimeBridge all offer solutions to solve multi-participant meetings.
ScheduleOnce offers a Web-based scheduling service that works with Google Calendars, Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes.
They focus on meetings that require 2-6 people; what they refer to as “mid-sized meetings.”
One of the big issues with mid-sized meetings is that during the time span between the proposed meeting time and when the time is scheduled there is no visibility into attendee availability, making it difficult to respond to schedule changes. This can slow productivity to a halt while attendees respond to back and forth e-mails and check and re-check their calendars.
Throw in the issue of time-zone differences and daylight savings day issues and you almost need a PhD in order to figure it out. Indeed, schedulng a meeting with multiple attendees in multiple time zones can sometimes take longer than the meeting itself. A definite 215 killer. ScheduleOnce handles all the time-zone adjustments to properly identify mutually available times. It gathers availability from the calendars of attendees across organizations. Busy times from attendee calendars are kept updated to ensure accuracy at any point.
ScheduleOnce offers individuals and small businesses a free version specifically designed to work with Google Calendar. Finding a common time for a meeting with ScheduleOnce looks like this:
- The organizer sets tentative availability for the meeting
- Invitees reply with their tentative availability
- The organizer evaluates invitee replies and schedules the meeting
ScheduleOnce has a patent-pending method for ensuring absolute scheduling accuracy across any combination of time zones and daylight saving changes. You can rest assured that all attendees receive the correct time, anytime in the year and anywhere on the globe. ScheduleOnce does not publically disclose their pricing.
TimeBridge makes it easy to find a time to meet, set an agenda, coordinate logistics, conduct a phone or web conference, and document decisions and actions. TimeBridge syncs across time zones and most popular calendars, including Google, Outlook and Apple iCal. TimeBridge for iPhone is also available. One of the neat features of TimeBridge is the built-in collaboration recently added as a result of a partnership with Box.Net. Users can collaborate on relevant files and documents in their TimeBridge Meeting Room. Each individual attendee, present in-person or virtually, can access meeting details from the time the invitations are sent to the conclusion of the meeting. TimeBridge does not publically disclose their pricing.
TimeTrade provides mechanisms to support integration with external systems, including Microsoft Outlook, websites, portals, CRM systems, call center system, and ERP systems. Integration mechanisms include Web Services, HTTP redirection with query parameters, and iCalendar data interchange technology. TimeTrade is especially well-suited for integration using a serviceoriented architecture.
If you’re a small business, your online scheduler is configured to your specific type of business, whether you’re an independent professional or a multiple location operation. Because they host the application at their secure data center, there isn’t any software to purchase, install, or maintain.
With TimeTrade online appointment scheduling for small businesses, you’ll pay a fixed monthly fee which includes 24/7 access to the application for your staff and customers, live technical support, and hosting services. The fee is based on the number of resources and locations scheduled through their system so you’ll need to talk with them directly to determine pricing. A resource is a person who performs a service, such as a massage therapist or instructor. A resource can also be a facility such as a tennis court or conference room.
Nancy Nardin founded Smart Selling Tools after a prestigious career in high-tech and IT market research sales. She is considered the leading expert on sales productivity tools.