It’s a lovely fantasy: after explaining the fabulous features and benefits of your product or service, your prospective client on the other end of the telephone immediately says, “I’d love to talk more with you about your product. When can we meet?”
Unfortunately, as with most fantasies, reality is quite different. Getting the appointment is just like getting the sale: if you don’t ask, and in a very clear, precise way, you’ll never make it to the next step in your sales plan.
The ABC’s of Closing.
“Always Be Closing” is an old school saying that many people misinterpret as a cutthroat, hard sell approach that can, in fact, turn many potential customers off. However, my interpretation of the phrase is that it is a reminder to keep your goal in mind from the beginning of your phone call. Ask compelling questions that will lead the conversation to the conclusion you want: a personal appointment with your prospect. When they state an objection, and you respond with a rebuttal, attempt to then close for an appointment!
Help Them Say Yes.
The best way to get that appointment is to lead your prospects in a step-by-step process to saying “yes” to your appointment. Here’s a simple script to help you get started.
“Do you have a calendar in front of you?” (The idea behind this question is that you expect the answer to be “yes.” The prospect you are talking with is probably sitting at his or her desk with a calendar within easy reach.)
“Great. Take a look at what day is good for you over the next week or two.”
Once you’ve agreed on a date, narrow down the time of the appointment. You may want to give the prospect two choices by saying something like, “Which is best for you, 10 a.m. or 2 p.m.?”
Another alternative is to fit the appointment around your schedule. “I’ll be in your area next Thursday. Would 10 a.m. be a good time for us to meet?”
Keep narrowing down the day and time until you find something that fits.
Once you’ve set the date and time for the appointment, you should take another minute or two to gather all of the information you need to prepare for your sales call. Keep your questions brief, no more than two to four; you don’t want to suggest that the conversation is over once the appointment is made and then prolong the conversation even longer.
Some good questions include:
- How many sales people do you have?
- Have you ever looked at outsourcing before?
- Tell me about how your company decides on making a change with a new vendor?
- What is your timeframe for making something like this happen?
In addition, make sure that you note the name, position, address, phone number and email of the person you are meeting.
Close your call by reconfirming to make sure that both you and the prospect have all of the information correct.
“Thanks for your time today! Let me give you some information to write down in your calendar, ready?” Pause, wait for answer…
“My name is _______, I’m going to stop by to see you at . My company is ___________. The phone number, in case anything comes up, is _______. I’ll also give you my website, it’s _____________. I’m looking forward to it, see you Thursday at 3!”
What About Confirming the Day Before?
Reconfirming the appointment the day before is often just an excuse for the prospect to cancel. Try not to reconfirm! If the prospect asks you to call the day before you can try saying something like, “That’s exactly the reason I’m giving you my phone number, in case anything comes up. But I’ll be in and out all day the day before, so just feel free to give me a call if you have to reschedule.”
There are only a few good reasons to confirm the day before.
- The drive is too far to risk a no show.
- You are organizing an event such as a “Lunch & Learn” where it is important to have an exact head count.
- The appointment is so far out (over three weeks) from the date set that you want peace of mind that it was written down.
If you must confirm the day before try NOT to speak to the prospect; again, it is just an opportunity for them to cancel the appointment. Instead, leave a voice message reminder of the appointment or a message with the receptionist.
Remember, the point of a personal appointment is to develop a relationship in person, and that’s something you’ll never be able to do unless you first ask for the appointment!