So… you have a referral or have been given a lead, what’s your next step? Dial the phone, of course! But wait, before you can dial, you need to be prepared. Take a breath and think about what you want to say.
A call to set up an appointment has the same elements of a sales call. The big difference is that instead of product and money changing hands, the sales person is asking for time and a willingness to listen. The other major difference is unwillingness on the part of the sales person to fully disclose all the details of the offer.
In order to have a successful appointment generating call, you must prepare for it the same way you would for a sales presentation. You create an opening, your offer, be prepared for objections and concerns, and your close.
Points to consider:
As this is likely a cold call, make sure you’ve made your caller comfortable. I like to start my calls by briefly introducing myself and my company and following up with a phrase like “I know you’re busy, I won’t keep you long.” This lets people know that you’re not planning on keeping them on the phone for an extended period of time. Notice I didn’t make that a question. A question such as “do you have time to talk?” at that point of the conversation makes it easy for someone to end the conversation before you’ve had the chance to explain what you are calling about. Trust me, if they don’t really have the time, they’ll tell you.
Keep sight of your objective. If your objective is to meet face to face, it’s wise not to give away everything in your call. For example, you might need to give a price range, but tell them at “the exact price will depend on your specific needs. I’d like to stop by for about 30 minutes or less and learn more about your needs. Would Tuesday or Thursday be more convenient for you?”
If you’ve been referred by someone mention this up front. I might say “Hi, this is Jo Ann Kirby at KRG Communications Group. John Manners suggested I speak with you. I know you’re busy, I won’t keep you long. John felt that…” and then I continue with my call.
Ask qualifying questions. Don’t waste someone’s time with an appointment if your product or service is not a good fit. Get a feel upfront about the customer’s needs. On the other hand, if you know this will be a good fit but the customer is balking at an appointment, don’t be afraid to delve deeper during your call. It’s OK to attempt to overcome initial objections.
Remember lead and appointment setting are selling activities, using many of the same skills as a full sales call. So, keep in mind that we don’t want to don’t push so hard that your appointment will cancel once the prospective customer thinks it over. Talking someone into an appointment for something that’s not a good fit, will only waste their time and yours. Make it a call back.