Getting that first sales appointment is the key to everything else.
The first foot in the door, the start of the business relationship. But it’s all too easy for that door to slam shut and stay shut… meaning you don’t get to make a great impression, solve the prospect’s problems and convert a much sought after prospect into a client.
And you don’t get to send an invoice either… your competitors get to do that… not you.
So, how can you make sure you get the appointment every time?
I can tell you how, I can give you the words and the structure, but I have to also tell you one more thing.
It’s this… this structure is not for the faint hearted. If that describes you, then I have to ask… what are you doing working in sales? Interesting choice of profession for you… but read on anyway because following this structure will make you a sales superstar at booking appointments.
So here you go with my rock solid 6 point plan to get more sales appointments than you know what to do with.
Just watch those sales diaries start to fill up.
You’ll get maximum impact for your telephone time, plus your cancellation rate will be zero.
Research your prospects before you talk to them.
I mean really research your prospects. When you get through to the ultimate prospect decision maker you have one chance and about 5 minutes to get that appointment… so, although lots of people will tell you about doing lots of fact finding on the telephone and 7 layers of qualifications, well, they are all ways to make sure you DON’T get the appointment.
Instead, do your qualification questioning and research before you pick the phone up, so you know who you are talking to, so you know that they are exactly the person you need to speak with. You only need 7 levels of qualification if you are doing research.
You certainly don’t need that level of qualification if you know you are talking with the chief decision maker in a highly sort after prospect company… that’s like having the goal lined up and deciding to have a bit of a kick about before you try to get the ball in the back of the net.
Why would you risk it?
Truth is… you wouldn’t.
You’d take the goal straight away.
Let me give you an example. You will have (read: should have) a list of gold prospects who you would love to meet and present to.
You know who they are, why you want to present to them, and hopefully you also know why they should definitely buy from you.
Now, consider this list… would you need to qualify these prospects when you get through to them on the telephone?
No, of course you wouldn’t. You’ve already done that. You’ve done your research.
That’s how it should be for every prospect you approach.
And I mean every prospect.
So good should be your research that the first question you ask when you get through to the desired prospect is this
‘I understand you are the person in your business who is specifically responsible for (insert your interest here)… is that correct?’
And, of course, your prospects response will be ‘Yes, how can I help you?’
It’s that simple.
Don’t complicate it.
If you find yourself doing 7 levels of qualification with the main target, just be aware you are reducing your chances of success at every tick of the clock.
State your reason for calling.
Be specific. Be brief. Be results and outcome focused.
‘The specific reason for my brief call to you today is to arrange a time to demonstrate how (insert your BIG BANG here)’
You have told the prospect several things here.
You’ve told him that this is not a hit and run sales call.
You’ve told him that it’s a very brief call.
You’ve told him the very reason you are calling.
You’ve given him an impressive and compelling reason to see you.
It’s obvious that the bigger the bang, the more relevant this is, the greater your chances of getting the appointment, but more on that later.
Your tone, pitch, volume and speed should be congruent with that of a peer to peer exchange.
You should be confident and business like.
You’ll never get away with this pitch using a Mickey Mouse type persona… step into the shoes of a successful business professional and deliver the line like a pro!
The prospect’s response will be, quite naturally ‘What is it you have?’
I’ll explain how you respond to that shortly…
Before I move on to the next section, let’s talk about the BIG BANG.
It’s that statement you’ll use to grab the prospects attention, so you get his attention immediately. You get him to stop scanning his email. You get him to sit up straight, grab a pen, start listening and thinking.
Now you know why it’s called the BIG BANG.
Now, the BIG BANG, here’s an example:
If you’re selling sales improvement packages to target focused sales directors and sales hungry business owners you might have a BIG BANG that’s something like this,
‘Hi Mr Prospect, I can increase your sales performance by as much as 30%, sometimes higher, can you spare 30 minutes to meet with me to discuss how this could work for your business?’.
What’s the response likely to be?
You got it!
After all what do business owners, sales managers and sales directors worry about the most?
Of course, increasing sales and profits… so you can see why 30% improvement in sales performance makes then sit up and say YES!
So – what’s your BIG BANG?
Remember, it’s got to be something that gives HUGE benefit to your prospect – could be results, time, money, status, efficiency…
When you were doing your research, some of the research would have been around dealing with the issues and identifying problems faced by your prospect, specifically those problems that, with your firm’s help and your firm’s products, the prospect can solve.
Now the key here to help you with your BIG BANG is to understand and articulate how your product/service/business can help them BETTER than any other competitor can.
What have you got in your armory that would make your prospects sit up and take notice of YOU?
What do you have that your prospect desperately needs in order to solve a major problem that he has?
Here are some examples:
If you were a legal firm – is your record for winning tribunal cases, litigation or successful mediation something you are especially proud of? Perhaps you’ve never lost a case, perhaps your clients have been awarded some of the highest payouts ever recorded, or perhaps you have been commended for the speedy resolution of cases you deal with?
If you are a lender – do you have a higher than average record for saying yes to firms applying for finance? Do you have a super efficient turn around process on applications? Can you offer finance that others wouldn’t underwrite? Do you specialise in particular types of finance? Are you rates more competitive? Do you specialise in a sector? Have specialist knowledge? Deal with their competitors? Speedy claims handling process?
If you are an advertising agency – how many award winners have you had? How much revenue have your client secured as a result of your efforts? How has their market share changed? How have they opened up new markets? How have they diminished their competitors? How have they grown as a result of your intervention? How have they fought off hostile market conditions?
If you are a business coach – how many of your clients have broken through major goals? How many of your clients have gone on to change their lives? Change their business? Grow? How have they done it? What did you helped them achieve their goals? How did you do it? Over what period? What results?
If you are a manufacture – do you have an impressive customer list? Are you working with their competitors? Are you processes more efficient? Are you more environmentally friendly? Are you recognised as a leader? Are your systems more responsive? Are you innovating? What does that mean for your customers? Are you world leading/cutting edge?
Or perhaps you have a recent high profile success story? Have you been acknowledged by the prospect’s industry as being of note, best in class?
OK, so you may not fit into any of these, but you get the point…
I guarantee you that your business will have its own BIG BANG; you just need to look for it.
So, have a totally open mind, talk to some of your existing clients, and have a creative session using some key creative tools that will unblock your thinking (more on these later)
Now, remember, your BIG BANG is a statement of fact… it’s not a 100 word blurb you verbally vomit when your precious prospect picks up the phone to you.
One statement. No more. Nothing. Not one word more. Just one sentence. That’s it.
AND… don’t even think of making another call to a key prospect until you’ve worked out what your BIG BANG is… you’re just wasting opportunities otherwise.
AND, be radical, stop being boring.
Your BIG BANG needs to stop the prospect in his tracks.
You need to flick his internal switch from ‘oh no, not another telesales call’ to ‘wow, I need to pay attention here’, and what’s more, you need to do this in just one line.
Yes, one line and one line only. No waffling allowed.
So, what’s it to be?
What’s your business most proud of in terms of the RESULTS and BENEFITS it provides for clients, RESULTS and BENEFITS that solves the clients key/major problem?
What does your client value you and your business for?
What can you say about your business, what claims to fame does your business have, that your competitors don’t have?
What is it?
Find that out and you’re on the road to your BIG BANG.
Also note – your BIG BANG may need to change depending on whom, and what sector, you are talking with.
You may find that your BIG BANG only applies to one industry… that’s OK; you can work that industry and its key prospects whilst you’re building a BIG BANG for other sectors.
OK… back on track now.
In response to your question the prospect will have answered ‘What is it you have?’
Here’s your response…
This is where it typically goes soooooo, so wrong.
In response to the above, the inexperienced sales person starts to sell the product/service.
They start to talk, and talk, then talk some more.
Meanwhile the prospect is checking his emails, updating his Facebook status, texting his partner and asking the office junior to get him another coffee.
Is he listening to you?
Not so much… no.
See, another great, ace, top of the tree opportunity missed.
Why do it?
Why do what every other single appointment setter in the whole wide world does?
Don’t be that guy.
Don’t be an idiot.
Don’t make this mistake.
Remember – all you need to do at this stage is to sell the appointment.
Just the appointment.
Not the final order.
Just the appointment.
Not the whole service.
Just the appointment.
You hear me? Just the appointment. The appointment. That’s all.
So this is your response:
‘A system/product that we can demonstrate in 30 minutes to quickly give you an over view of how we get the results we do… I’ll share with you how our existing customers are getting such great results and you’ll get a feel for how it might fit into your company, what benefits and specific value you’ll get… at which point you can judge for yourself if it’s for you and your company… Now are you free next Tuesday or next Thursday for 30 minutes… I think it’s important for you to judge the value and benefits for yourself, and make an informed decision, see if it can help you like its helping our other clients, so which day is best?’
Then you stop talking.
You wait… while they get their diary in front of them.
Resist the urge to keep talking.
At this stage… talking is for losers… don’t be a loser.
The prospect will either get their diary or they will come back with one of six responses…
• What’s it cost?
• Don’t have time…
• Tell me about it…
• Email me some information…
• Call me back on Friday…
• We already have something that does that…
These are all fob off’s. You respond defensively as most sales people do, you lose.
Here’s what you say instead:
• What’s it cost?
‘Well that very much depends on whether you can see value for your business… if you can’t, of course, it won’t cost you anything… you need to judge the value for yourself… it’ll take just 30 minutes for you to have a look at our system and get a feel for the sort of results we get, we’ll share some of the results our clients have been getting, at which point we can discuss prices depending on your needs. Which would be the better day – Tuesday or Thursday – do you have your diary there?’
• Don’t have time…
‘I can understand that. I’m keen that you make an informed decision and come to your own conclusions about this, just like our other busy and successful business leaders have… 30 minutes maximum, and if you don’t like what you see after 15 minutes, I promise you, we can finish there… which would be the better day – Tuesday or Thursday – simply take a look at our system, you’ll get a feel for the sort of results we get and hear about some of the results our clients have been getting. You judge for yourself, you can make an educated decision about its value to you… so is Tuesday or Thursday better for you?
• Tell me about it…
‘That would be tough, we have information we need to work through together to prove the real benefits and value for your business, there is information you will need to contribute so we can demonstrate the value to you specifically… In 30 minutes you’ll get a feel for the sort of results we get for our clients, then you can judge for yourself and make an informed and educated decision about how this will help you/your business, the sort of value you’ll get… do you have your diary to hand for the next week or so?’
• Email me some information…
‘I could, but it would waste your time and mine because it would make little sense… the purpose of the meeting is to realistically assess the value and benefits specifically for your business… plus we’ll share the results other clients have been getting and how they make the system work better for them, do you have your diary at hand? I think it’s important that you see this for yourself, make your own mind up with a realistic informed and educated decision about its value to your business… what day’s good for you, Tuesday or Thursday?’
• Call me back on Friday…
‘I’m actually not in the office on Friday, I have my diary in front of me for next week, do you have your diary there? It’s a quick 30 minutes for you to see if this passes the acid test for your company. You’ll know after 15 minutes if it’s for you… if it is, then great. If not, we’ll leave. The thing is, it’s important you get to judge the value for yourself and come to you own conclusions once we’ve shared how it works for other firms, you’ll hear their success stories, and get a feel for the specific value it would bring to your business… now is next Tuesday or next Thursday best for you?
Other fob off’s exist… don’t fall for them, you can use any of the above to tackle and deal with most any fob off you hear.
AND this call structure will ensure you avoid that ultimate fob off that kills even seasoned sales professionals.
What’s that? I hear you ask… it’s this.
It’s the one where the prospect says
‘Yes, we have something like that already in place’.
You and I both know that just that one statement can derail your sales presentation and knock any chances of booking an appointment clean out of the park… how do you come back from that without calling the prospect a liar?
Truth is, I don’t think you can tackle it without the risk of causing offence.
So, don’t let your call structure feed the prospect the opportunity to use that fob off.
Cut the opportunity to get rejected before it even starts.
This structure will allow you to do just that.
It does this by simply not giving the prospect enough information to be able to claim that statement as being true and retain any credibility.
You haven’t told him what your product is or does… you’ve only described the results it gets.
But… just in case you do get caught out and the prospect does use that fob off on you then here’s what you say:
• Yes, we have something like that already in place…
‘That’s interesting. I wasn’t aware of any system like ours that delivered (insert BIG BANG). I think it’s important you assess us against what you’ve got to see if they deliver the same outputs. Now next Tuesday and next Thursday are good for me… which is best for you? Just 30 minutes to get a feel for the sort of results we get, the value we can deliver to you and we’ll share some client results with you. You make your own mind up regarding the additional value we deliver and what it could do for your business, the sort of difference it could make… So Tuesday or Thursday?’
Now you need to stay silent again… while the prospect finds his diary and reviews his schedule.
Get it booked – time and place. RESULT!!!! Well done.
Ask if he will be inviting anyone else to the meeting.
Collect a direct dial/mobile and an email address for him and all the additional attendees
Confirm the physical address.
Confirm the post code.
Say you look forward to meeting him.
Say thank you and good bye.
Send the outlook appointment so it drops in to his/their calendar.
Go to LinkedIn and add him as a contact… add the additional people too.
Read his and their profiles.
Look at similar contacts in their connections list that fit your ‘perfect client’ profile and are in your target market for additional prospects for your sales pipeline.
Send the details off to the relevant external sales person in your business.
Wait 10 days for them to say thank you!!! (Joking!!!!)
STOP: no, you don’t then go make a coffee… success breed success.
The best time to book another appointment is straight after you’ve just made one… don’t miss the opportunity to ride the appointment high!!!
Stay on that phone and get dialing.
I’m not kidding here… if you want a way to get very high conversion rates from cold call to appointment, this is the way to do it.
What are you getting at the moment? 2… 3… appointments per day?
Want to double it? Triple it?
Now you know how.
Just get on with it.
The day before the meeting is due to take place…
I have seen some downright stupid things in my time, but this takes the biscuit.
And if you’re still doing this, well, just have a word with yourself will you and STOP.
The day before, don’t, don’t, don’t call the prospect to confirm the meeting.
Just don’t. It’s a classic rookie mistake and will cost you precious appointments.
Also… don’t, don’t don’t email the prospect to confirm the meeting… another sure fire way to see your diary drop to pieces when it’s too late for you to do anything about it.
Don’t do it to yourself.
Here’s what you do instead…
You call the prospect on his mobile or direct dial and say this…
‘Hi Mr Prospect, just a quick call, really looking forward to the meeting tomorrow, I’m all set for that, just wanted to ask you… do you have parking onsite, do I have to book that with anyone in your business or could you recommend somewhere local to your office?’
This could be amended to you calling to see if they have wifi?
Or if they have a key piece of information for the meeting…
BUT you never ever call to make sure the meeting is still on… that’s an invitation for the door to get slammed… and you’ve worked to hard to get the appointment to let that happen.
So, there you go… turn up on time, well prepped with a great sales presentation… you can smell the order can’t you.
Here’s a quick summary and some additional insights for you, then you can go get setting those great sales appointments
Don’t Make these Mistakes… Avoid at ALL Costs!!!
Let me show you ways you can screw up this process so you get the industry average of 10% conversion from call to appointments instead of 70% plus.
If you want to avoid failure, read and make a note for yourself under the heading ‘GOLDEN RULES’:
• Research, research, research… using this structure with the right person is crucial and critical to your success… use it on people too far down the organisational chain and you’ll blow your diary… it will be full, but you’ll never get any business…
• You have to ask for the appointment as if you know it’s going to be a ‘yes’. Prospects, especially Chiefs/Big Hitters smell fear, they sense lack of conviction, and they’ll know if you believe in what you’re selling or not. Just like Santa Claus, they know everything, they’ll know if you’re a wage slave or a committed employee… you’ll give them all the clues they need… own your own success and see what a difference it makes… then try the meek and mild approach and see the difference in your bonus cheque.
• You have to know that this prospect has a problem that you can solve, and that your solution is better than anyone else’s… and he should be delighted to hear from you, you need to reflect that to him, so he can reinforce that feeling back to you. See the last point.
• Be enthusiastic, upbeat, energetic, committed… selling and influence is a transfer of excitement, an acknowledgement of a better solution, something to explore, to get excited about. You’ll need this level of energy to convince your prospect. He’s got to know that you know your product, you love it, you think it’s the best solution ever, you’d use it, you’d have your family use it… he needs to know and feel that you’re totally committed. Get energised.
• Go big… and I mean big in terms of the prospects you chase. This structure works best with Chiefs, with Big Hitters… they appreciate your directness, their needs are usually greater since ultimately the buck stops on their desk and they are likely to be more open minded… avoid swimming with the minnows, they won’t like you… you’ll scare them. Go big or go home.
• Make sure your BIG BANG is BIG and it’s a BANG… in the eyes of the prospect. No-one is interested in your company apart from understanding what you can do for them. The bigger the positive impact you can bring to the prospect and his firm, the bigger your chances of converting from a cold call to a face to face meeting.
• Have a selection of 2 or 3 BIG BANGS… the potency of your BIG BANG is directly related to the conversion rate from call to appointment. That means – little bang – low conversion rate.
• Don’t over talk… your job is just to book the appointment. You’re not selling anything other than 30 minutes so the prospect can make an informed and educated decision for himself.
• Don’t try and sell the product or service… you’ll lose the sale, the appointment, the opportunity.
• Don’t get sidelined by the fob off’s… you don’t need to now, you know just what to say don’t you?
• Focus on being in and out of the call within 5 minutes… the longer the call, the more time the prospect has to divert your attention away from your goal.
• Don’t waste your time qualifying with the main decision maker… do that before you get to the main decision maker. When you call the main decision maker, you know he’s the target, you know his problem, you know the cost of his problem and you know how much he needs to sort it out… job done. Just get the appointment.
• Don’t act like a slimy sales person – this is a peer to peer call… you’re not begging for scraps from their table, you’re a business partner offering to help their business be better than it already is… Act like it!
• Call up with a confirmation question the day before… but NEVER ring to confirm the appointment is still taking place… that’s what losers do!
There you go… all you’ll ever need to know about securing as many high quality sales appointments as your need, when you need.
Now, all you need to do is polish up that sales presentation you have.
Get the right appointment with the right sales prospect and you can write your own bonus cheque, just pick a number.
Plus, you’ll be able to
• Build your own creative, compelling and competitive sales pitch
• Build a solid sales pipeline of quality sales prospects that are hungry for what you are selling…
• Maximise your sales conversions
• Close any lead
• Maximise your prices because you selected perfect prospects
• Maximise your profits, again, because your BANG was BIG and you selected the perfect prospects
• Keep your competitors out of prospects/accounts you want to keep for yourself
Adopt this strategy… please
It’s a total win-win and a great way to refocus your mind, reboot your strategy for hitting those sales targets, and giving you total clarity on the key sales points that will make the difference between you earning commission or scraping by with just your basic salary.
Make this quarter your time to blast those sales targets and get the sales results you want, the sales results you need and the sales results you deserve.
So, let’s do this!!