While closing deals is often the most emphasised part of selling, you never get this opportunity without first landing appointments.
If your team is struggling to get meetings, you may need to modify your strategy or execution.
One of the mainstays of any business is getting appointments with influential people in an organisation.
Notice I didn’t say the “right” person, or the “decision maker”, that will come with time.
It is rare you can call the CIO or CFO and get an appointment. Although I must point out that it is something we can do for you.
Businesses today have a range of people involved with any purchase, particularly those in the technology sector. Unless you are very skilled at getting in to see the “right” people, your focus should be on getting in the front door and moving up the value chain.
You have one objective and one objective only – to get your prospect at ease as quickly as possible to schedule an appointment with them.
Research and Prepare
Cold calling may seem like a mundane task. However, you must remember that your company’s reputation is on the line each and every time someone makes a bad call.
And no salesperson likes making cold calls (as this feedback from BDM’s shows)
Feedback from Business Development Managers via Payscale.com
Get yourself in the right frame of mind and understand the market you are calling.
Calling the wrong people with the wrong mindset and erroneous information won’t get you appointments.
If you haven’t done your research properly, you can forget about it. Savvy buyers will know you are only looking to sell something.
Research and preparation is a necessary starting point for efficient appointment setting.
You need to call on people that have a genuine need or preference for the solutions you offer and be able to demonstrate value if asked to do so.
Part of your preparation should be understanding objections and ensuring you have a logical set of steps to help the prospect overcome their objections.
Because objections are good.
You should welcome them.
They allow you assist the buyer along a path that can help them overcome their objection.
Think of it this way:
Which of these comments would you rather hear?
“I’m not sure your solution can help us reduce our lead times for project delivery” or “Sure, send me on some information”.
Research your marketplace, align your prospecting efforts with the solutions your company provides and develop a precise profile of the audience you need to go after.
If your role is in sales management, coach your reps to make calls with the intent of helping targeted prospects with a need.
As someone who has been on the receiving end of cold calls (yes, I get them too), there is nothing worse than someone unprepared for questions.
I recently had a call from a sales person, and the conversation went something like this:
“Hello Mr Humphries, my name is John [not his real name] from John’s Marketing Stuff Plc [not his real company], and I was hoping I could grab a few minutes of your time. We’re working with companies such as yours to help them identify visitors to their website. Is this something you’d be interested in?”
“Sure. What companies like mine are you working with?”
[Long Pause] “Ermm, we work with [names a few companies that are in entirely different industries than ours]”
Me: “Yes, I know them. But you said you were working with businesses similar to mine. Who are they?”
John: “I need to get back to you on that. Can I set up a 2-week demo with you?”
Me: “Not right now thanks, John. Maybe send me across some information.”
Not a good pitch, right? And more importantly, it soured the company in my eyes. Hadn’t they bothered to train their sales staff on how to make a sales call? After all, there are plenty of other companies out there that offer a similar service.
Yes, you did read that heading correctly.
Salespeople have a natural inclination to want to sell a product when interacting with a potential buyer. Nobody wants to have something pushed upon them.
Instead, appointment setting calls are designed to intrigue a prospect enough to get a face-to-face meeting.
Your goal is to set an appointment, not sell them something. (Or as in the case of our friend John, a demonstration of the service.)
By calling with a genuine desire to help, it is easier for salespeople not to pressure prospects.
Don’t force the issue.
Instead, reps should call with a sincere belief that they are trying to help a prospect out of a situation or predicament. This helpful tone is less likely to offend buyers or put them on guard.
Remember, your goal is to arrange a meeting so don’t lose focus of that.
Don’t be shy about getting to the point and asking for some time to introduce how your company has helped similar organisations. Just make sure you have your facts & figures correct.
People are naturally hesitant or reluctant to agree to a meeting with a salesperson. As I mentioned above, this defensive posture often comes from the belief that sellers only want to sell something.
One of the best ways to intrigue a prospect and land an appointment is to share examples of how similar people and companies have benefited from your solution.
The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and nothing sells better than a referral.
Before or during your call, direct the prospect to a website or landing page where they can read customer testimonials or see a demonstration of your product.
Alternatively, share a particular story about a buyer in a similar position, including the problem faced, the solution used and the benefits achieved.
Case studies are excellent tools as well.
Outsource Appointment Setting
Yes, this is a little bit self-serving, however, hear me out. A simple but often effective way to enhance your appointment setting efficiency is to turn this role over to an outside firm.
Many sales reps dread cold calling above most other tasks. You can let them focus on the selling processes they relish to close more deals and turn appointment setting over to experts in this area.
Firms that specialise in appointment setting services have advanced methods, highly experienced staff, and technology tools to generate high-quality appointments.
Here at Internal Results, we only charge you for the appointments landed as well. There are no extra charges or lengthy contracts.
Let’s look at it logically. And for the sake of simplicity, I’ve purposefully left out the additional costs associated with having someone on your payroll.
According to Glassdoor the average Business Development Manager salary in Dublin is €44,875k per annum (£43,719k in London, $105,218 in New York).
Let’s assume that your sales person spends (a very conservative) 2 hours per day researching and cold calling for new business and prospects.
That’s 10 hours a week, which is 40 hours per month.
So over the course of a year, each of your sales people spends a minimum of 480 hours just looking for new prospects.
If we take it that they work 8 hours a day, that is 60 working days just prospecting!
And if we consider that there are 20 working days in each month, you’ve just lost a whole quarter to each sales person looking for leads and not closing any deals!
To put it another way, your sales people LOSE 3 months of closing new deals because they are too busy looking for new leads, costing you a minimum of €11,250, £10,929, or $26,304 respectively – per person!
We can provide you with up to 40 high-quality meetings for that cost – per sales person.
Outsourcing appointment setting can improve the overall quality of your selling process by enabling the best execution at each stage.
If you can’t get an appointment, you can’t make a sale. Therefore, salespeople need to spend adequate time researching and preparing for prospecting calls.
By developing examples of satisfied buyers and calling with a helpful attitude, reps avoid pressing the issue and can put prospects at ease relatively quickly.
If the interest is there, ask for the appointment to meet in person and demonstrate your value.
These are basic tips, but these days sales reps have so much to do that they lose the quality time required to focus on these key areas.
And with it, potential customers are lost.
Our service is designed to leverage the time and talents of your most valued resource, your field sales team, by introducing them into the selling cycle at the critical time and place with a targeted key executive.
The result is a repeatable and measurable process that not only identifies net-net opportunities but provides critical closed-loop feedback as to which value propositions are resonating with your target audience.