Our panel share their best practice ideas for getting great results from your appointment-setting teams.
1. Think of a good hook that will grab the person you are calling in the first 60 seconds
The most important thing when outbound calling is to have a tried-and-tested hook (or a number of hooks) you can use. These should be benefits that will get potential customers interested within the first 60 seconds.
A cold call usually happens when you don’t want to be bothered. If you don’t get the customer’s interest immediately, you will struggle to pull it back, no matter how well trained and knowledgeable your people are.
With thanks to Tom
2. Make sure your data has been TPS checked
Too often, cold calling through prescribed lists of data, without enough information, can prove a waste of time for both the calling and called parties.
Making sure that your data has been TPS checked beforehand will ensure a better contact rate once initial calls are being made.
3. Ask “Do you have time to talk?”
Rushing into a sales pitch, without asking if this person has enough time to talk, can potentially put them off wanting to listen.
If you can, make sure that they have the time, and if not, arrange a more convenient time to call them. This may prove to be a more successful conversation overall.
Don’t panic if the prospect that you are calling doesn’t have time right there and then. If it isn’t convenient, just try to establish when is a good time for them.
4. Don’t hang up the minute they say “I’m not interested”
Don’t give up if there is an objection initially.
Take the time to ask a few more questions as to why the potential client isn’t expressing an interest. Often this may open doors to other services that your business may be able to offer.
5. Offer a choice of day and time when setting the appointment
When arranging your appointment meeting time, try to ensure that your potential customers are happy with the day and time, especially if the meeting is likely to involve multiple people.
This will help to prevent any cancellations or potential no-shows nearer the time.
Offer people the choice of meeting times, not to the extent of this being open ended, but perhaps ask the question as to what days are better suited. For example, “Are Wednesdays or Fridays better for you?”
This will give potential customers an element of choice, rather than trying to force a day or time on them which may not be suitable.
6. Confirm the details as soon as possible – and schedule reminders
Once you are able to agree a time and date, send a meeting request to confirm the details as soon as possible.
Beyond that, you may perhaps want to arrange a courtesy call or send a further email to confirm that your prospect is still able to attend.
Make time to initiate this contact a day beforehand to avoid disappointment.
7. Avoid the hard sell initially
Try to avoid over-selling the product in your initial contact. Information overload during the first conversation can often overwhelm people.
The sales meeting itself is where further questions can be answered and the sale needs to be qualified.
An initial call is about setting up the all-important appointment and building a rapport with your prospect.
8. Give your prospect the information they need to do their own research
Near the end of the call, provide your prospect with the right links to access your company information themselves.
This can give them the chance to ask any additional questions that they may have prior to your meeting.
9. Make sure the right people are scheduled for any follow-up meetings
Do your best to make sure that you have arranged the right people in your follow-up meetings. This will ensure that you are able to field any questions that your prospect may have.
Making sure that the right people are in attendance can also potentially speed up the decision-making process and reduce the possibility of additional or multiple meetings that may not always be necessary.
With thanks to Martyn King at Nexbridge
10. Agents need to see themselves as sellers not “appointment bookers”
If you want to increase the number of appointments being made, bring your agents together in groups and ask them “How do you describe your role?”
If they see themselves as “appointment bookers” or “order takers” then they may not be “selling” the appointment sufficiently.
I then rip up a £50 note in front of them to highlight the cost of the leads they are following up on for appointments.
11. Support a “sales mindset” with persuasion and influence training
It is also important to support your agents with a training session in the skills and knowledge they need to persuade and influence effectively, thus moving them to a true sales mindset.
In this session, listen to their “blockers” and support the removal of these.
12. Invest in good-quality data
Also ensure your data quality is good enough – and that you are avoiding manual dialling for maximum productivity and conversion.
With thanks to Carolyn Blunt at Real Results Training
13. Your agents need to understand the market they are calling
It is important to train your agents well, so that they understand the market they are calling, and how it can use the product or service.
Cold calling is about getting past the scripting and truly appreciating that you just interrupted someone’s life and now you need to know how to go on.
With thanks to Rick
14. Recruit people who work well under pressure
The primary focus should be on the individuals you are hiring, in regard to their personality.
- Do they fit the role?
- Do they fit the working environment?
- Can they handle the pressure?
Training is great if it’s targeted at the right person, but if it’s to the wrong person, it really is of little or no benefit.
With thanks to Tony
Click here for our Top Tips for Selling Over the Phone
What have you tried to improve your appointment-setting success?
Let us know in the box below.