No matter what the industry is, setting up an appointment remains to be one of the most challenging tasks for salespeople. But no matter how difficult this task is, you need to increase your success rate, or you will run out of sales pipelines.
Any successful appointment setting effort has these following elements:
Contact prospects before the regular working hours
“The early bird catches the worm” might sound cliche already, but it still works when dealing with executives and gatekeepers. For example, those who are in charge of IT security work even in the most unholy hours. They have to make sure – no matter what time of day it is – that security is at 100 percent. However, work becomes even much busier during regular working hours because everyone is vying for attention. Therefore, if you want to get the attention of the top executive or the decision-maker, you need to get up earlier than anybody else. That ensures you have his undivided attention, or you are only competing with few people rather than hundreds of them.
Don’t rely on only one channel
“Different strokes for the same folks,” that’s what author and leadership expert, Ken Blanchard, mentioned in his book “Heart of a Leader.” In other words, you can use different strategies or tactics to win a person.
The same goes when trying to set an appointment with a company’s top executive. You should utilize all forms of media channels to get their attention – emails, phone calls, handwritten notes, or an exclusive newsletter. The more, the better because it gives you more opportunities to secure a yes.
Actively listen than talk
When you actively listen, you can catch subtle nuances the other party is trying to say. And if you are really in tune, you can ‘decode’ any clues the other person is hinting at.
When trying to land an appointment with a prospect, you don’t rely on the script. It is there as a guideline, but you have to listen. When you can pinpoint what your prospect’s need is, you can easily position your product or service according to those needs.
Nurture prospects and leads
You can follow up with those who have already interacted with your brand. You can get that information from your marketing team.
These people are those who have:
- Visited your website
- Downloaded materials from your site or,
- Attended events that your company had sponsored
They have already shown interest in your brand, and they might just be waiting for more information or a little push.
Ask for referrals
Referrals are very important to any company. It also saves you time in establishing a relationship with the prospect — the trust they have for the referrers transfers to you. You can ask for referrals within your own network. You can also, in a subtle way, ask referrals from your prospect themselves. When asking for referrals from organizations for the first time, start with people from the top. For example, talking to the CEO’s executive assistant can point you to where the key decision-makers are.
Ask for a meeting
The best way to secure an appointment with a prospect is to directly ask for a meeting. And don’t forget to be specific — being unclear about this cannot get you anywhere. Instead of asking, “Can we have a meeting about this and this?”, saying “Are you available on October 15 at 3 pm to talk about our proposal?” That changes the question from ‘just asking if you can have a meeting’ to ‘when do you want to have a meeting’.
Setting an appointment with a prospect, no matter what industry you’re in is difficult. You need hard work and persistence, and you will receive more nos than yeses. But if you use our suggestions as guidelines, you can increase your chances of getting more yeses than nos.