Follow these guidelines and you will make more appointments……
One of the quickest ways of generating more revenue in this troubled economy is to get in front of more people than usual. Use these 8 principles to successfully make appointments with your prospects.
It's best if people are expecting you to call. The finest people to call are existing clients, referred prospects, orphan clients (who you haven't done business with before but they have with your company) or even bought leads from the Internet, as these people have expressed an interest in talking to an expert - ie. you.
Notice I'm not looking at calling up people cold. Cold calls do work, but they take time to generate income, as the whole rapport building process needs to take place first and multiple calls may be needed to generate income. They are all prospects for you to speak with but the first hurdle is to get in front of them as soon as you can.
- Activity funneling
Ask any salesperson what the secret to success is, and you'll get the answer "activity". Activity breeds sales so the trick is to target yourself with the right amount of activity to achieve the sales you want.
Ask yourself these questions:
- How many sales do you need over a given period, such as a month?
- How many appointments with customers do you need to generate these sales over the same period?
- How many calls do you need to make, over the same period, to generate the desired number of appointments?
Now you need to plot these on the funnel, starting at the bottom with the number of sales you need. Say you need 6 sales per week. Now to generate 6 sales, you need to be sitting in front of 10 people. And to generate 10 appointments, you need to be making 16 calls, over the same period. Therefore, you have a sales ratio of 16:10:6. So for every sale you need to be making between 2 and 3 prospecting calls.
The trick is to start thinking this way, especially if you don't like making calls - and not many salespeople do. Say to yourself, unless I make 3 calls right now, my sales figures will be down by 1 this week, and this should motivate you to pick up the phone and dial.
- Chain yourself to your desk for 45 minutes
Making calls to fix up appointments isn't something every salesperson wants to do because you'll get your fair share of refusals. And these don't engender warm snugly feelings. It's not a pleasurable task. And it doesn't keep you fit either.
So the trick is to chain yourself to your desk for 45 minutes and do nothing else but make calls, otherwise it's very easy to be distracted by a more gratifying task, such as checking emails or making a cup of tea.
45 minutes is shown to be the optimum timing for making calls - any shorter and you won't get through the calls you have to make, any longer and you begin to lose your sharpness and enthusiasm.
Many salespeople ask me when is the best time to make sales calls. That depends on your body clock and when you think your prospects will be in to receive your call. It's known that between 9 to 11am is the most effective time. Next is 7 to 8pm and the worse time is between 4 to 6pm.
The days you decide to make your calls must fit around your schedule, although Fridays are not as successful as say a Tuesday, as people have an "end of the week" feeling.
One exception is bought leads from the Internet. You simply must phone them as soon as you receive them and ideally you're getting these sent through as text messages. Phone them there and then, as they'll probably be on their computer, still thinking about buying your product. Catch them early to keep the momentum going. Any delay could mean they'll lose the incentive to want to talk to you. Naturally you won't phone them after 9pm will you!
- Tape the phone to your wrist
This principle leads on from the last one, with the overriding concern being how easily distracted salespeople are! The rule to follow is the 60 second rule. When you've hung up on the customer, keep the phone in your hand for a maximum of 60 seconds before you make your next outgoing call.
Not only does this prevent you taking an incoming call but it stops you doing much else, apart from making important notes or diary entries with your other hand. Use your left hand to hold the receiver, thus freeing up your writing hand (unless you're left-handed of course).
And don't be tempted to use a conference facility on your phone so you can use both hands. They differ in quality, so ensure you get to take a call from someone else using conference facilities to test the quality of your system. Some sound as though you're in the rest room and some have a mini second of silence between you talking and the other person talking which doesn't sound natural.
- Do not disturb
Next time you're in a hotel, grab the "do not disturb" sign and use this when you enter your 45 minutes of calling. Hang it on your back to warn prospective interrupters not to disturb you. Explain to everyone in the office or workplace that you need 45 minutes of uninterrupted time to make your appointments, so can they hold calls and messages until afterwards.
Ensure you have everything to hand before you pick up the phone and start your stopwatch. CRM package opened up, diary ready and pen that works with some note paper ready. And remember to switch off your mobile phone as well.
- Know what it is you sell
A little obvious, but worth reminding yourself of what it is you are aiming to achieve with the call. You're after a meeting either face-to-face or maybe via web conferencing or telephone. You do not want to be sucked into discussing the product or service. Focus on getting the appointment and you'll be successful.
But you do need to motivate the prospect to want to meet up with you, and here you need to know what their motivation is. WIIFM - or, what's in it for me. What is it that the prospect will buy into - what's the hook or hot button?
Keep the hook enticing and leave out the detail. Make the prospect feel hungry, but don't feed them. For a financial services call, it might be to save them money, provide security for the future or secure the best finance for them. These sound interesting but don't go into detail.
When probed for more information, explain that this is why meeting them face-to-face is advantageous to you both and you'll be happy to do this for them. Repeat the hot buttons once more.
- Vocal cosmetics
Before you pick up the phone, warm up your vocals, maybe with a friendly call to someone you know already. The keys to your vocals for making appointments are pace, lowering your voice, posture and facial expressions.
Ask someone to give you feedback on your pace when talking on the phone. If you are a little apprehensive, then you'll find yourself too fast. In fact, if you speak at the same pace as face-to-face conversation, then you are too fast for the phone. You should slow down on the phone and use more pauses. It's known that if you are quicker than the prospect at talking on the phone, then you'll come across as high pressured. Polite persistence is one thing, but coming over as high pressured is another.
Lower your voice slightly when making appointments, particularly when you ask for the appointment. Lower voices are more welcoming and warm - but don't go doing a Barry White!
Ensure your posture allows for a full breath and diaphragmatic breathing. Take care not to crouch over and push your body towards the computer as this will crush your diaphragm and prevent you using your full vocal range. Many people like to stand to make appointments and this is a great tip. Not only does your voice have maximum capacity but standing also makes you feel more confident.
Finally your facial expressions can give over a warm intention. Smiling and enthusing, maybe using real gestures, can have a fantastic affect with your prospect making you come over as genuine, honest and non-scripted. Being enthusiastic can make sure you operate with a positive attitude as well, and this state of mind is imperative when making appointments.
Plan - don't can
- In every aspect of selling we follow the golden rule of plan, do, and review. Plan your calling. Some salespeople like to follow a script and this is fine so long as the words are natural and not canned. Unfortunately scripted written words just don't always sound right when spoken. For example, "Can I just spend 5 minutes of your time to explain..." Sounds very formal but I've seen it on hundreds of scripts. Instead use: "Could I just walk you through..." or something similar. Whether you script or not, you do need a plan to follow. The 4 essentials to a successful calling plan are introduction, ice breaker, reason for the call and asking for the appointment. You need some clear words and scripts within each heading. Here are some ideas and pointers:
- Introduction During the first few seconds of the call, you need to mention their name 2 or 3 times as it's known to be the most wonderful thing for someone to hear. Naturally ask for the person by name and when they confirm, repeat it again and thank them. Then introduce yourself using the phrase "this is (your name) from...". Don't say "my name is...". This is so demeaning. Then you need to say something to get them talking or responding before you follow on. Some salespeople like to ask "how are you today", some don't - you choose. But what this does is begin to break the ice, and it can be very brief. Take care with the "is it convenient to talk" line. If you do use this, then you will achieve less appointments - and that's a fact. Try using "If it's convenient right now this is (your name) from ...." Slightly different but at least you're saying it. Try it without saying it. Go on I dare you!
- Breaking the ice Before you steam into asking for the appointment, you need to break the ice a little. This is best achieved using a question. For example if the call is to a client of your company that has had little contact with you, known as an orphan client, use: "XYZ has asked me to call you about your business with us." And then pause. Or if it's a referral say: "Has (referrer's name) mentioned my name to you at all recently?" This last one works really well with cold calling as well. "Has my name been mentioned to you at all recently?"
- Reason for call Await their response and then move onto the benefit statement, in other words, the reason for the call. It's here you want to use the WIIFMs or hot buttons you determined earlier. Here's an example: "The reason for my call today Bob, as you might be aware, is that XYZ has recently developed a service designed to save you money and secure the best finance for people like you and we'd be happy to run this by you." Notice the absence of the word "I" and the mention of the word "you" 4 times. And there's some hypnotic words in there as well, you saw them didn't you? Don't use words such as "appointment" - it sounds clinical - and reminds me of a dentist!
- Ask for an appointment Finally you ask for the meeting by giving them some suggested dates and times, as this allows you to group meetings, especially if you have to travel to the customer. This last bit is not too tricky unless you forget to pause. I've known some salespeople to carry on talking and dig themselves a really big hole to fall into. Finish off by confirming your name and the meeting arrangements and say goodbye.
- Polite resistance
I think it's important to not get too hung up with objection handling. If they don't want to see you, then so long as you have enough people to call, move onto the next call.
However, I often think how the prospect would feel if you didn't try to politely persuade them a little. They might think that you don't care too much for your service.
Polite resistance is the key at this stage.
Whatever objection handling technique you use, it's important to listen and empathise first. For example:
"That's OK Bob; I do see where you're coming from here. Actually lots of people we phone feel the same as you initially..."
Then repeat your offering...
"I'm just offering a meeting to talk through the service that'll help you secure the best finance for you and save you money. It'll take just 25 minutes ... when might be convenient for you Bob?"
So there we have our 8 principles to making appointments. I trust I've reminded you of some ideas you already knew, but haven't used for some time during the boom years, and maybe shared some new tips with you, to help you achieve your revenue targets this year.
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