If you have to set appointments over the phone then you know that delicate balance between building rapport, creating interest, qualifying and asking for and getting an appointment. It can be difficult knowing exactly when and how to ask for the appointment without sounding like you are closing them, and, of course, there is always the awkwardness of handling the no's if you're turned down.
The good news is that if you follow these 3 proven secrets of top producers, then you'll not only begin setting more appointments, but you'll set more qualified ones as well. Here they are:
Secret #1: Always use a script. I know, this may sound basic enough, but you'll be amazed by how many professional sales people still insist on winging it through their initial call. Your script must help you deal with things like:
- How to deal with and get past the Gatekeeper
- How to handle your prospect's initial objections
- How to establish quick, relevant rapport
- How to qualify to see if your prospect is even the right candidate
This article is too short to script all these things out for you but don't worry I'm not going to leave you in the dark. I've covered all these topics before in previous articles, and I've even written word for word scripts for you to use. You can find them all on my website by searching the Inside Sales Training Blog.
Bottom line: Prepare and use an effective script!
Secret #2: Know when to ask for the appointment. Many sales reps just don't know when the best time to ask for the appointment is. Because of this they either ask too soon and then begin fielding objections, or they pitch for too long and the prospect has then heard enough to say no. Either way, obviously, you lose.
Here's the rule: After you've made a connection with your prospect (built rapport), gained the right to ask a few questions to see if there might be a fit between what their needs are and what you're offering (how you can help), and after you verify a few crucial qualifiers - like if they are the decision makers, what their interest level and time frame is, and what their budget is - then it's time to suggest a possible meeting to explore if your solution might benefit them.
The key here is to ask enough questions to identify what their buying motives are (their needs) and then to give them just enough information to suggest a fit. Then it's time to suggest an appointment.
Secret #3: Know how to ask for the appointment.
Please, whatever you do don't use the age old sales technique of the "either or" close. You know, the "Well I can either stop by tomorrow at noon or would the next day at 4pm be better for you?" As soon as you utter those words, your credibility goes down. Everybody recognizes that as a sales pressure line and they react accordingly.
Here's the better way to do it:
"_________, from what I'm hearing from you it sounds like it makes sense for us to explore this a little further. Here's what I'd be willing to do: Let's make an appointment to briefly get together so we can get to know one another and I can learn a little more about your situation. If we find that there is a fit, and you think I can help you, then I'll give you some information that you can go over, and then I'll put together some options for you.
And if we don't see a fit at this time, at least you'll have another resource you can use at a later date - is that fair?"
And then you set the appointment. The strength of this close is that it's a none-pressure situation that gives your prospect a way out if they're not interested. Plus, it lets them know you're not coming over to try to close them. This script lets them know this visit is all about them, which is what it should be.
I guarantee that if you begin using the three secrets above for setting appointments, your appointment rate will not only go up, but you and your prospect will feel better during the whole process. And how great will that be?
I urge you to take some time to search my blog for great openings and qualifying questions, and to then incorporate the script above into a comprehensive opening script for yourself. You will be so much more successful if you do. And don't forget that if you need other scripts, you will benefit greatly from my new book of over 220 other proven scripts by getting a copy of "The Ultimate Book of Phone Scripts." You can find a copy on my website or on Amazon.
I hope this helps and, if it does, please pass this article on to others can benefit from it!