Best Practices of Appointment Setting in Sales Process
You might have the best-in-class sales persons – suave, charismatic and eloquent; however, if they are never given an opportunity to meet the prospect(s), their qualities are of no importance. Therefore, it is important for your business to spend a significant amount of time and energy in arranging scheduled calls and meetings with prospects, to facilitate the process of conversions for your sales representatives. Scheduling calls or appointment setting filters the audience, changing the context of interaction from interference to interest. This also provides confidence to the salesman to perform as he/she knows that there is a real chance of conversion.
The practice of appointment setting has become an integral part of business, especially for start-ups that rely on this marketing strategy to reach a potential client. However, it is an acknowledged fact in the business fraternity that this process is extremely difficult and tedious in nature (research shows that around 75% of the total sales effort is consumed by appointment setting). As a result, it becomes all the more important to set a structure and clear goals for effective appointment setting.
Best Practices of Appointment Setting
Reach the Top Levels:
The real decision-making authority is always at the top. Hence, call center executives should aim to connect with those C-suite executives who would eventually sanction the purchase. Starting from below might be easier, but in the end, it will only result in repetition of process. It is not always true that building consensus at the functional level helps in converting the sales.
Widen the Search:
Gone are the days when there was a single decision maker in the business. With the evolution of the consumer landscape, roles are getting re-defined and overlapping, and decisions are being taken by more than one individual. Instead of finding one right person to speak to, it makes logical sense to throw open the search. Often, such an approach improves the probability of connecting with a decision-maker who was not an obvious prospect.
Move with Patience:
Before one gets an opportunity to pitch for the meeting, it takes about 8 to 12 attempts across 3 to 5 prospects. Therefore, patience and perseverance is the key to success with regard to appointment setting. When a caller starts with the attitude that things will take time for conversion, he/she has already taken the first step. The successive steps of calls, emails, voice mails, redirects, etc., would only make the job easier.
Ask for the Prospect’s Time:
One can never sell in the context of an interruption. Hence, it is polite to ask the prospect if it is okay to begin the conversation at that moment. This might always open doors for the prospect to say a ‘no’, but nonetheless, it goes a long way in establishing a positive brand/company image in the mind of the prospect. No one wants to establish relations with an intruder.
Remain Focused on Goals:
The idea of appointment setting is just to schedule a meeting so that salesmen can market the offering. Thus, it is important to remain focused on only this activity and resist any marketing statements at this stage. The caller may not be a savvy salesman, and therefore, opening a conversation about offerings can dilute the chances of securing an appointment. “I am calling to arrange some time in our mutual calendars so that I can introduce you to my company” is a good way to begin. If the prospect insists on learning about the products before allotting an appointment, he could be told politely that a scheduled meeting would work best for him or her and there would be experts who could run through each and every aspect of the offering.
Schedule the Call First:
While the goal is to get a scheduled time from the prospect, it should be noted that a request for a face-to-face meeting might not be the right approach. This is because meeting in person requires a considerable amount of commitment and would often be turned down (especially when the prospect knows nothing about the offering). To increase the chances of conversion, it is a good practice to suggest a day and time option for an initial sales call.
Objections are natural and they will come in plenty when appointment setting is executed. The idea is not to be demotivated, but to answer smartly and take the prospect to a convincing point. To achieve this, callers need to be prepared for objections well in advance, keeping some quick responses (to predictable logical reactions) close at hand. Being prepared avoids thinking and mumbling, thus, building credibility.
Be Prepared for Re-scheduling:
Around 25% of such scheduled meetings result in a “no-show”. While this can be disheartening, the good news is that around 50% of such “no-shows” can be re-scheduled. The goal is to be persistent and ask the prospect to re-commit. The point to note is that such calls are not qualified sales calls but only a pitch for initial introduction; thus, one can directly ask the prospect for another time.
Look beyond Phone Calls:
In general, appointment setting over calls is the most preferred mode, but one can also leverage emails, live chat, and mobile texts, to reach a potential client. When trying to establish contact via emails, it is advisable to keep the following points in mind:
– Come to the point immediately
– Give multiple options for the prospect to choose a day and time
– Confirm what kind of meeting would be preferred by the prospect (online or over a call)
– Leave contact details
Likewise, appointments over live chat should be focused and precise. The prospect should not feel confused or coerced.
Appointment setting can take up a significant amount of time, with assurance of results not being guaranteed. Hence, dedicating internal employees to this task would divert them from other core activities. Outsourcing appointment setting to an experienced call center outsourcing services company would enable the business to leverage the expertise of the outsourcing partner and improve the productivity of the employees within the organization.
The primary objectives of appointment setting calls are to filter prospects, generate interest, benchmarking expectations and scheduling appointments. Following these best practices can ease the process and negate any major complications. However, if this is done by the internal sales team of the business (whose primary job is “selling”), a lot of otherwise productive time and effort could be wasted. Outsourcing the appointment setting process to a qualified third party can be a good alternative in such a case. It is observed that such outsourcing can help businesses in better lead nurturing (both with the new as well as the existing customers) and speeding up the sales cycles.