If you’re in outside sales, chances are you need to have appointments with prospective clients to keep the pipeline full and business flowing your way. It should probably come as no surprise that in order to sell your product or service, you first have to get in front of the right decision maker and that means generating appointments. But, generating appointments doesn’t always equal sales.
Here’s how to amp up your game and convert more of those appointments into sales:
1) Not every prospect you call on is the RIGHT person to book for an appointment.
Every salesperson has been there; you book an appointment and you’re excited to have a prospect to meet. Then after your meeting, the prospect tells you “I like what I see, but Mr./Mrs. X is who’ll make the final decision and I’ll pass the info along”.
Ouch! Before you book a meeting, make sure the prospect is the decision maker. If not, approach the meeting with the mentality that this won’t be the final step in the sales process. You may have to go through this person to reach your primary prospect, but know it in advance so you can adjust your presentation accordingly and plan your follow-up ahead of time.
2) Aim high!
This plays off #1 because if you’re aiming to connect with the highest-level prospect available, then you’re more likely to avoid decision maker issues in the first place. For instance, say you want to book an appointment with someone that makes decisions regarding the company’s IT network infrastructure. Don’t go to the Network Manager or Database Administrator, aim for the CIO (Chief Information Officer).
You may get the CIO’s administrative assistant, but you’re just as likely to reach him/her directly. In today’s world where costs are being cut left and right, many of those CIOs don’t have an administrative assistant. Even if you do get the administrative assistant, he/she can often give you a warm referral to the right decision maker. This way you’re not spinning your wheels, and you know that the person you’re calling on will have the CIOs authority behind them.
3) A warm referral is better than a cold call.
This may be obvious to some but to others, cold calling is all they’ve ever known. Instead of cold calling on everyone you can find within the company, take the top-down approach listed in item #2 and you’ll increase your odds dramatically of landing an appointment with the RIGHT prospect.
Let that prospect know “Hi, I just spoke with Mr/Mrs. CIOs office and they recommended I meet with you.” This is 100% true, and if you get a call like this you’re much more likely to book an appointment.
4) Focus on quality over quantity.
Some managers push their team to generate X number of appointments each day/week/month/year but what they should focus on is QUALITY. The accomplished manager is going to tell you to go for quality over quantity. It doesn’t matter that you book 15 appointments this week if 14 of them are with people who cannot make the decision. But, if you book 5 appointments with key decision makers you’ll up your chances for success. Don’t get caught in the trap of activity = productivity because it does not.
5) Be prepared!
This is a non-starter; if you’re not prepared for the appointment, then you’ll see low closing ratios and project a negative image of your company as one that doesn’t take itself or its prospective clients seriously. Far too many salespeople show up for their appointments unprepared.
Think of yourself as an actor going on stage in front of thousands of people or being on TV with MILLIONS watching you. How prepared would you be then? That’s how prepared you need to be for your appointments. Know your topics, typical pushbacks, and rebuttals. Don’t be robotic, be yourself and let your personality shine through.
6) Know your audience.
This is a deeper dive into being prepared, #5. Know your audience’s pain points. Know what makes that person tick and what about your product/service is likely to help improve their workday.
Don’t be overly focused on all your features and benefits, hone in on what the prospect is likely to find valuable. How do you know? Research! Look at social media, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. It’s more than likely that these people are online posting or at least have profiles. Then delve into the company itself prior to your meeting and see what issues are apparent.
The more you know, the more you can successfully position your product in a way that solves their problems and increases your likelihood of a sale.
7) Use ALL the available resources.
As you’re doing your research in #6 so you know your audience, use all the tools you can. But, make sure to use them effectively! Don’t just browse around wasting time. Focus in on “What do I need to learn to position my product/service for optimal results”.
Tons of tools are free, Social Media sites (Free), Dun & Bradstreet (Pay), Google search (Free), etc etc. You can learn a lot about companies from free sites like Google and LinkedIn. A quick Google search will often reveal other free sites that let you look up organizational charts, etc.
Be creative, you can even call other people within the same company to mine for information. There are often people who’ll give you tons of info if you just make the phone call.
As you begin prepping for your next round of appointment setting, use these tips to amp up your strategy and expand upon them. These are by no means all-inclusive, there are tons of strategies that help get quality appointments on the books. That’s precisely our focus here at Inside Sales Solutions: we use a pay-for-performance model to give our clients quality appointments with REAL decision makers or we don’t get paid. That’s putting your money where your mouth is!