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|Posted on July 11, 2010 at 1:41 AM||comments (0)|
The Appointment Setters Handbook - 1st Edition
A Book for Appointment Setters by Appointment Setters
Designed for those of you who want to findout how to be a successful appointment setter- whether you have just been offered a new job in the role yourself, are a manager responsible for managinga appointment generation team or even perhaps just compelled towards thesubject.
Appointment Setting is an Art. There is no fixed way to do it. - No comprehensive set of rules that you must follow in a particular order to get to the results you want.
~You interpret your own way. Like in Eastern Philosophy you must be like water, free to adapt around the opportunities offered to you. Take the bits that work and leave out the bits that don't to reach your goals.
What is Appointment Setting?
Appointment Setting is first off a career.It's typically a career which people stumble into rather than grow up wanting to do. It's a shame because it's a career that can offer massive benefits to people who develop the right mindset to accompany the role.
The goal of appointment setting is simple-to encourage prospective buyers to allow a meeting with your clients' (whether that is the company you work for or with) business development managers to discuss and ideally sell their products.
Appointment Setting IS predominately a Sales role but what sets it apart from most typical sales is that you are not directly asking a prospective customer to part with their money, you are purely asking them to part with some of their time; perhaps half an hour to an hour.
Sounds Easy enough, right? Well.... Yes andNo!
However whilst the goal sounds simple enough, achieving that goal consistently and effectively takes a comprehensive set of interrelated skills and methodologies.
Fortunately these are skills which Employers are prepared to pay a premium for - for as appointment setters you bridge the gap between the Company and the customer in a way that no other marketing method really achieves. You provide the initial personal touch - the touch that is necessary to persuade prospective customers to consider using a potentially unknown company to provide an important business service.
People do not like being sold to so expect objections.
Perks of the Job
· High Earning Potential.
· Good quality Appointment Setters frequently earn in excess of £30,000a year in basic salary alone. Whilst the Crème de la Crème working in the right company can easily double that amount in commission by consistently meeting and exceeding targets.
· Opportunity to use multiple skills sets. - Producing mail shots,organising datasets, product familiarisation sessions.
· Largely self managed.
· Buzz of the Sale
· Potential for self employment.
And a major plus if you live in somewhere cold like the UK is that you get to work in doors. A great alternative to fieldsales if braving the elements isn't quite your thing or if you don't always feel comfortable selling to people face to face.
· Self Management
· Social Skills
· Ambition & Drive
Decision Maker (DM) ? This is the person who has been appointed the overall decision making ability as to whether to decide to purchase your company's products or services. Typically inmost companies a Decision Makers is someone with a level of seniority in regards to a specific area of responsibility. They are typically in smaller companies - individuals such as Financial Directors or in larger companies have dedicated procurement teams in place to handle purchasing decisions though they may be an important influencer. However the actual job role of the decision maker you're looking for may and will change depending on the product you are offering.
For example if you are selling IT products dependant somewhat on the size of a company, you may find that the appropriate decision maker may be a IT Director, IT Manager, Head of IT, Financial Director, Managing Director, the Office Manager or even in some cases the Receptionist.
As an Appointment Setter it is imperative that you move to the position where you are comfortable conversing with senior level decision makers in a professional capacity.
NOTE- If the Decision Maker does not like you or hold faith in you in a professional capacity your chances of making anappointment with them and furthermore selling any of your products to them at all are nil. Keep the Decision Maker happy and confident in your abilities at ALL times.
Influencer (Inf.) ? Thisis an individual who whilst not directly acting as a decision maker is a person who has a significant amount of input into whether a course of action may be taken. The course of action we're talking about in Appointment setting is whether or not to explore the opportunities offered by your products/services.
The thoughts/impressions of this individual significantly INFLUENCES the final decision made by the Decision maker. In many cases you may not speak to the Decision maker at all in regards to a matter until it is Ok'ed by the Influencer first. Therefore it also important to keep any Influencers you converse with happy and confident in your abilities. As an appointment setter you may need to book appointments with Influencers from time to time but you're true aim is to get your BDMs into a meeting with the Decision makers above all else.
Gatekeeper- This is an individual (or group of individuals) who provides an obstruction between you calling and getting through to the relevant DM or contact you want. 90% of the time this will be a receptionist or PA who have been specifically asked to screen out sales calls for senior level staff.
Canvassing- The process of calling around to find DM's willing to take appointment in regards to your products.
Business Development Manager (BDM) (Also known as a Sales Representative or Sales rep for short) ?This is the individual from your organisation who will be attending the appointment you schedule. If you have a tendency to create really strong appointments you will get along well with this person.
Targeting your Prospects right
Before you start randomly calling out to different companies consider these questions:
· "Who are the companies that I wish to approach?"
· "What types of companies are likely to be interested in theproducts/services that I'm arranging appointments for?!
· "What kind of companies are not going to be interested in our products?"
· "What area of the country am I looking to target?"
And also importantly:
"How many prospects can I manage effectively with my time?"
It may be that the majority of these questions are easy to answer. However, if that is not the case it should be that you engage in some thorough market research.
The final question? How many prospects can I manage effectively with my time?? may be harder to answer. To some extent it is dependent on the individual and how much preparation you wish to engage in prior to speaking to a DM.
Naturally it takes time to acquire information prior to pitching a prospect and this is reflected in the volume you can handle. In my prior experience as an appointment setter I've typically managed a client database of around 1,000-2,000 prospects. This number seems sufficient in that you don't have a dry patch where you run out of viable prospects; it's sufficient to allow you to build up a large 'pipeline' for call back purposes but also allows you to explore cold opportunities as and when they are required.
Saying that however, if it turns out you're calling in regards to a particularly fast moving product where companies are literally lining up to sample your products/services it may be that you can handle even more prospects. I'm assuming of course that the data that you initially receive is accurate because if not you will find that a large amount of your time will be dedicated to the role of data cleansing rather than appointment setting.
Many appointment setters target their prospects by simply phoning out of a phonebook or yellow pages. I highly recommend against this method.
Whilst the yellow pages are a free source of business data to canvass, it is a false economy. Apart from the fact that such directories do not permit you to use their product for that purpose, the layout of yellow pages leaves little room to add marginal (let alone complete) notes next to prospects you've called and you'll find you'll need to spend a large amount of your time transposing records from yellow pages into an electronic dataset that you caneffectively manage and maintain. Time of course which would be better spent speaking to prospects.
A better solution would be to use business data readily available in electronic format ideally with records specific to the products you are calling about. And the more up to date the better.
Many companies sell business data relevant to a whole host of different industries. And the prices you pay depends largely upon the company whose offering it. Companies who specialise solely in offering business data whilst offering a greater range of applicable fields tend to charge a premium.
You'll find that many companies claim to offer exceptional quality data; however that provision is typically not the case.
Before you purchase data off a company it's highly advisable to call a number of randomly selected records to verify itsaccuracy.
Data should be considered good quality if it is 95% accurate or above and whilst not generally requiring the necessity of full exclusivity you should be interested in how many other companies have access to the dataset.
If the data is anything lower than 95%accuracy it advisable to walk away, as even if you managed to haggle down the Seller significantly on price, you will be investing a huge amount of valuable time into the records.
TIP- It's a good idea to check out Data Protection Laws before purchasing data, and ensure that your data provider can indemnify you against any claims resulting from the use of their data particularly by ensuring that TPS contacts are not included in your dataset.
Purely by chance you may be able to find a company who doesn't specialise in selling data that just happens to have the kind of data you could benefit from calling.
I.e. if your company sells IT hardware you may find that a company selling IT software may have access to high quality canvassing data for your industry.
As long as your industry doesn't encroach on the others industry then you may be to able to purchase their data off them at a fraction of the market cost and potentially pass referrals each other's way as well.
NB - Ensure the data is OWNED by them (i.e. its their client list list) not just rented. Their licence to use rented data will not allow them to pass it onto you.
If any business data you can access pre-qualifies the eligibility of a prospect for your products then even betterstill. Nothing is better in regards to data than knowing that every company you are calling already has a pre-established benefit for your companies' services.
With high quality pre qualified data to hand it's easy to turn a personal best of perhaps 5-6 appointments a day arranged to significantly more as you're investing all your time speaking to people who can buy off you rather than trying to pick needles out of haystacks in regards to prospects.
Managing your Prospects
Once you have acquired the data you will be calling off, you need to decide what way you going to manage your actions. If you're hoping that every call you make will lead to an appointment you need to think again. More often than not you're going to have to arrange to call back a prospective company and when that means arranging call backs for 100s of companies you're going need to employ a system to help you.
This is where a Call management solution comes in. Sometimes the company you're working with may have their own solution in place which they would like you to use or other times you may be allowed to use your own.
Tip - If you are technically gifted perhaps you may look into designing your own call management Solution using a database program like Access or MySQL. This way you can find that you end up with a system completely bespoke to yourself. Though it will take up some of your productive time in order to manage the system.
Perhaps one of the easiest ways to manage your calls is by simply using a program such as Microsoft Excel. You can import your data into one of their spreadsheets and make titles relevant to the information you require in regards to your prospecting.
Tip-Using Microsoft Excels Filter and Find tools you can easily track down recordsof particular prospects as and when they are needed. Also, I find it particularly beneficial to add filters to a field called CB so it automatically arranges your records as to who is next scheduled a call.
KEEP REGULAR BACKUPS
As an appointment setter you're going to look to employ measures to help you manage your time effectively. The best way to do this is through the use of what is widely known in the industry as Key Performance Indicators or KPI's for short.
Typical Key Performance Indicators are outlined below:
· Appointment Sat
· Appointments Booked
· Talk time
· Average Talk time
· Wrap Time
· Conversion Rate
A Standard target (basedon an 8 hour working day with 1 hour lunch break) is to aim for a talk time(which is the amount of time you spend talking to your prospects) of around 4hours. However with practice you should be able to get your talk time upto the region of around 6 hours a day. Achieving 6 hours when the aim is 4 hours is known as surpassing your KPI. The critical KPI that you're going to be comparing yourself to is naturally going to be Appointments Sat - In order words appointments that youhave scheduled that have been attendedby a BDM. Suffice to say you want Appointments Sat as high as possible and if you're trailing behind you can use your stats indicated in the other KPIs to assess which areas of your work you can improve in.
Switchboard Tips - Bear in mind that you may need to phone many companies repeatedly in order to arrange an appointment, you'll find you want to spend some effort to save time in the long run.
Most companies nowadays tend to have those automated switchboards which give you options to dial to go
through to the relevant department. This is both a good and a bad thing for the Appointment Setter. It provides a welcome relief from speaking to a receptionist to go through to a suitable department however it may take a while to get through to the relevant option that you need.
'Hi, Welcome to XYZ Limited. If you arelooking to speak to our Sales department please push 1. For our Admin please push 2. Or alternatively for Reception please push 3 or hold. Thank You'
The example provided above isn't particularly long but imagine that 10 options are offered to you by someone speaking in a really slow voice. It may take 30 seconds or more to find the option you want.
Now imagine that you don't manage to get through to the person you want and need to rearrange a call back. Chances are you'll have forgotten which option was appropriate next time you ring up and you'll have to waste another 30 or so seconds to find out again.
30 seconds...... So what you may think. Well if you're waiting 30 seconds per company and you're ringing 100 companies or so a day that's 50 minutes a day wasted listening to annoying automatice-receptionists. Or in other words about 20% percent of your productive worktime wasted. Not an effective use of the day considering appointment setting is a results driven occupation.
TIP - Sometimes,you may want to go straight through to the operator or receptionist (normally to gather further information) rather than a particular department. On many phone systems rather than waiting to hear all the options you may simply beable to push '0' to go straight through to their receptionist. The benefit to you is instant time savings.
Easy solution- Make a note of which options are presented to you off their switchboard in your companies notes. If it takes 5 seconds to read your notes and key in a response or wait 30 seconds or soevery time, it's pretty much common sense what method you need to be using.
TIP -Sometimes if a switchboard plays a particularly distinctive piece of music you can discuss this music with a DM or a receptionist as a bit of an ice breaker in order to build rapport.
Anatomy of Appointment Generation
Appointment Generation is a multi facetedprocess. However it does have an established beginning, middle and an end.
1. Data Cleanse.
Your first call is primarily a fact finding exercise - typically at this point all the information you may have on a company is its main switchboard number, the company name and if you're lucky some typically outdated information in regards to who a Decision maker was anything upto 5 years ago.
Or if you are fully prepared a concise seto f notes which solely need verifying.
You've got to expect that normally the person who you speak to on your initial contact with a company is not going to be the person you are looking to speak to. This is a good thing because it allows you the opportunity to gather information, to make your first conversation with the relevant prospect run smoother with a better flair of professionalism that comes from preparation.
Find out who the decision maker is, gather background information. Do not expect to be able to make an appointment on the first call, true it may happen but in the same way that achieving a KO in the first punch of a boxing match generally doesn't happen - if it does its predominately luck.
You use this first call to gather information - to make your role much easier further down the line.
As certain philosophers have proclaimedthroughout the ages -
Knowledge is power. - Preparation is the key.
Key Information to Aim for:
· Name of Decision Maker - the most important piece of information
· Decision Makers Job Title
· Decision Makers Email Address - for sending introductory emails and meeting confirmations to.
· Decision Makers Direct Dial Number - makes it incredibly easy to speak to the DM directly.
· Address where the DM is based
TIP - Sometimes it's beneficial to not offer the actual name of the company you are calling from when calling solely to gather canvassing data. Some companies respond badly to cold calling and will block subsequent efforts to speak to them if they realise you cold called them to begin with.
The Data Protection Act however, does require you to be honest when gathering the data and so if they want to know who you are you must tell them.
The Importance of email addresses
Email addresses provide a platform to contact the decision maker directly if you are having difficulties speaking to them on subsequent phone calls.
Ideally you are looking to gain access to the Decision makers email address but frequently on your first call you may be offered a generic, all encompassing, email address such as:
Info@; sales@ or perhaps the email address of the non contact you are speaking to.
These are always better than nothing and whilst the response rate from "generic" email addresses is typically lower when doing appointment setting, it can't hurt to send a quick "generic" mail out as a follow up. Sometimes you get lucky and the DM does actually respond to them. However this is typically the case of your smaller typically family run companies. It is normally a waste of time with larger SME's or corporations as your emails tend to be either spam filtered or lost through layers of bureaucracy.
TIP - You can nearly always decipher the company's website from the suffix at the end of the email address. Company websites are a highly useful source of further information in regards to your prospect. You can gain an idea as to the scale of the company; figure out who their partner companies are. And sometimes a company may showcase entire employee contact details on their contact us page. - It's a gold nugget of information if they display the DDI and Email address of the Decision Maker you're looking for . . . Good Bye to subsequent discussions with Gatekeepers !
[email protected] typically becomes www.pcservicesinc.com
No Names Policies
Sometimes companies have stringent if somewhat excessive policies in place in regards to what company information they are prepared to give out. A show stopper of a policy is a "No Names Policy" in which the receptionist or whoever you're speaking to feels unable to provide information such as of the name of the decision maker you are looking for.
At which point you need to assess whether it's going be effective use of your time, to continue to converse with this company or whether to cut your losses and move onto the next potential prospect.
TIP - A "NO NAMES POLICY" doesn't mean necessarily mean the loss of prospect. It's sometimes worthwhile to bank the prospect for a call-back in a few months' times and if you're lucky you might catch the appropriate decision maker straight off the switchboard or go through to an employee who isn't quite as aware of the company's policy and is prepared to give you the information you are looking for without objection.
Sometimes it occurs that however hard you try you can't seem to get put through to the Decision maker you want. Perhaps you annoyed a receptionist earlier in the canvassing process and they are now hell bent on blocking your calls or perhaps the DM is just reluctant to take the call as they don't fully understand the nature of it. This is where Switchboard Roulette comes into play.
It's a little known fact that when companies typically install new phones lines they are regularly provided the direct dial numbers in a block - usually ascending upwards from the originating number, typically reserved for the switchboard. Switchboard roulette basically means phoning the numbers ascending from the primary switchboard in the hope that you stumble across the direct extension of the DM you want.
Like Russian roulette you choose a number and see if it lands. Sometimes you get lucky sometimes you don't.
It may be that you come across the DM'sdirect line in a couple of tries but if you are calling a significantly larger organisation it may take much longer. Sometimes you may not find the number you're looking for at all.
You can increase your odds of finding the correct DM by approaching each new number as an opportunity to find out from someone else what their direct dial number is. Ask whoever answer the phone what the direct number of so or so is and you'll find that many times you may be provided it straight away. As long of course that you ask nicely.
It's recommended that you only employ this method in medium sized enterprises with around 50-100 employees. Any larger and you might not find the DM you're looking for and any smaller and you risk making the DM aware that you are taking up his colleagues time by intentionally disregarding their call screening policies.
2. Interest building
Once you have your preliminary information in regards to who your decision maker is and some background knowledge you'll now be looking to speak to the Decision Maker directly.
If you've excelled in the Fact finding stageof the process and have a key point of information such as the DM's direct dial you should find that getting to speak to the actual DM will be fairly straightforwards.
However more likely than not you will find that in order to speak to the relevant DM you will need to get one of their colleagues to put your call through to them on the switchboard.
When speaking to the receptionist do ask for the DM by their first name and surname. This usually leads the receptionist into believing that you are already familiar with the DM in question. You'll find you that they are far more receptive to your wishes.
By asking for both the first name and surname it also avoids the possibility of being put through to the wrong person. For example if you ask to speak to Dave. There may be a number of people who have the name in an organisation. Of course this will prompt the receptionist to ask alot more questions to establish the intention behind your call.
Tip - Try to remember the receptionist's names. If you are courteous enough to remember their names you'll find in a large number of times they will be courteous enough to ensure you get put through to the person you ask for.
If you ask for the Decision Maker by just their surname (i.e. Mr. Jones) you risk coming across as too formal for someone who is familiar with the company and this again will prompt further unwanted questions. Likewise if you are calling a family run company, there may be a number of 'Mr. Jones'-es within the organisation.
TIP - Even when you ask for a DM by their full name it doesn't necessarily mean that you will be put through to the relevant person. I can name a number of different examples where asking for a certain individual has left me somewhat stumped when the receptionist has responded somewhere along the lines of 'Would that be Mr. Jones JUNIOR or Mr. Jones SENIOR that you're looking to speak to,then?' This kind of example is really hard to pre-empt and the best response is to ask a few more questions and note the relevant suffix in your notes for future reference.
Introduce yourself professionally and politely (for example, Good Afternoon, My Name is George and I'm calling from XYZ plc.)
Thank the DM for taking the time to speak to you. This displays consideration and empathy for the DM's feelings. Remember that the DM does not have to speak to you. They are showing professional courtesy by doing so. Thank them for that.
TIP - Sometimes Appointment Setters like to start off with a comment along the lines'It's just a quick call' to reassure the DM that you're not going to take up much of their time. I try to avoid this practice as it is vague and may lead to objections if your call does take a longer period of time than anticipated. It also suggests that your call is a trifling little affair, and not especially important - this can be counter productive when you ask them to invest time in a subsequent appointment.
State the nature of your calling confidently and specifically. It is very important that you sound confident. It inspires confidence in your abilities. If you don't sound confident the DM gathers the impression that you don't really know what you are talking about and immediately loses faith in you- Not a good start.
Ideally do not use the DM's first name untilyou have permission to do so. If they don't ask you whether you would like to call them by their first name ask them yourself. If they are happy for to work on first name basis do so.
Make sure that you repeat their name at least 3 times during the space of your conversation. This technique is a highly effective way of building rapport with your prospect and it reminds them to converse with you on a personal level rather than at a solely professional level. It is harder for a prospect to be rude or inappropriate towards you if you make them feel they have established a personal connection with you.
Use open ended questions to encourage the DM to speak to you openly about what their needs are.
Don't confuse the DM with jargon.
OK whilst you can easily use technical industry specific terminology with your colleagues if the DM isn't in the same industry as you, they are not going to understand you. Remember people are afraid of what they don't understand, and by using terminology they don't understand you risk alienating your prospect.On the other hand respect that the DM is probably going to be smart themselvesand don't risk belittling them by using 'childish' or patronising behaviour.
Sometimes though, it's worth keeping one or two pieces of extremely technical jargon to one side for confidence building. If for some reason the DM is wavering and is showing signs of distrust in your recommendation it's worth finding a way to implement these words in your conversation as a way of reminding the DM that you are a specialist in your particular area. You'll find that the knock on effect is that the DM is more inclined to follow your suggestion.
For example- "My name is George from XYZ. I feel you would benefit from our companies services. I am calling to arrange a meeting for you with one of our BDMs. They are in your area next Tuesday and Wednesday - Would either of those days be OK?
TIP - "Straight to the Point" approach. If you get the impression that a DM is excessively busy it sometimes works to ask straight away for a meeting. Why beat about the bush when you can go straight to the point.
If you are feeling particularly persuasive you might be tempted to close down the options open to the DM by saying at the end... Rather than 'would either of those days be OK?' perhaps 'Which day is best for you, Tuesday or Wednesday?' You find that a large amount of the time the DM will respond with a viable option out of the ones you offered.
Whilst an important way of building rapport with your prospect is to match their tonality and style of speech you may occasionally come across DM's who repeatedly use slang or informal language whilst conversing with you in conversation. Whilst the initial temptation is to match them in their mannerisms I highly recommend that you refrain from doing so. Throughout all of your interactions the aim is to be as professional as possible and if you come across DM's with poor etiquette it's important that you maintain your professional integrity by taking the upper hand and not lowering yourself to their standards.
"Can you send me more information?"
80% of the time you initially speak to a DM you will come across this statement. Whilst sometimes the DM is actually sincerely interested in finding out more about your company you need to be aware that a lot of the time this may be just an objection/fob off to get you off the line.
There are varieties of different ways to handle this objection. One of the most effective is to prevent its legitimacy by actually sending an introductory email prior to your conversation with the DM. You can them ask the DM if they have read it yet, which whilst adding value to your argument through displaying thorough preparation may also aid in shortening the process to getting to your end result . . . a booked appointment.
If you're speaking to a DM who is now asking for further information; however you have the information that the DM has asked for information to be sent to them in the past and your notes says that you have sent some out to them. It's highly recommended to run through the process of sending a generic email to the DM whilst they are still on the phone. This ensures that you don't break from the conversation and keeps up the rapport. Using this approach you can also respond to any objections or queries that arise from the DM as they arrive.
TIP -Encourage your email recipients to confirm receipt of your emails by a return email. Not only does this mean that you can assess when a particular DM looked into your proposal but you'll also find that you may be able to obtain valuable information like the DM's direct line off the footer of their email or likewise easily be able to confirm their address details and job title.
Do not be surprised however if a DM asks youto call back at a later date once they have had time to read over and look into your email. Whilst it is possible to handle this objection using comments like'if you have further queries perhaps it would be better to discuss them with our BDM when he comes in to see you instead', alot of the time you may just have to agree to call back the DM at another time.
If the DM does ask you to call them back, make sure you encourage them to specify what time and date they would like you to call back and make sure you stick to it.
TIP - 'Keep to your promises' if you agreed with a DM to call them back at a certain time make sure you do. Nothing loses confidence quicker than failing to adhere to what you said you would do. How can you expect a DM to trust you to provide, for example, their full telecommunications suite if you mess up on something as simple as a call-back at a certain time? Fail to keep up with your promises and you might as well kiss any impression of professionalism good bye .. .along with your hopes for the appointment.
Sometimes DM's are interested in your product and they just need a little bit of extra encouragement in order to arrange an appointment at the time that you actually speak to them. It maybe that they have a busy schedule and they think they will personally benefit more by putting off the appointment to a later date when they are less busy. The only problem is, as an appointment setter you can't be promoting that kind of thinking. Most Decision makers are always busy and if you let them wait till they have a lot of free time in order to see you then you'll be waiting a long time. By putting back appointments you need to realise they are stretching out the process so its alot longer than it ought to be (especially if they request multiple call-backs as each subsequent call back is a waste of time) as well as losing out on the current benefits of your products in the meantime by not explore the opportunities offered straight away.
One way of creating urgency is through theuse of 'Special Offers'. You may encourage the DM to move forward their priorities in regards to your product by suggesting that your company is offering special offers for a limited period of time only.
TIP - Specials offers can be a good way of moving forward delayed call backs. 'Hi John, Sorry I'm calling you a little bit sooner than anticipated but we're currently offering some extremely competitive rates and I felt you would interested in hearing about them'
Naturally the Decision Maker will not want to miss out on the potential to benefit from exceptional offers and will be more inclined to take an appointment there and then.
TIP - Sometimes you may want to incorporate Special offers right into your introduction to company. 'I'm calling because we're offering some really good tariffs at the moment and we would like to arrange for one of our BDMs who Is in your area next week to come and see you to discuss them.' Notice how next week was added to the sentence to add scarcity to your offering.
Generally speaking you will find more people agree to take an appointment if they feel they are not obliged to have to take it. They worry that if they agree to an appointment they will be unable to rearrange it if something more important crops up.
A highly effective technique for someone who is showing overall interest in your products but also reluctant to commit to an appointment is to suggest that they 'pencil in an appointment' for a couple of weeks time.
You reassure the prospect that they are not committed to the appointment but that it is appropriate to pencil in an appointment purely because your BDMs are incredibly busy. From there you simply agree to call or email the prospect prior to the appointment to assess whether they are still able to attend at the date and time arranged.
You also find that by empathising that your BDMs are busy it generally leads the DM to mentally add more value to their perception of your products and services.
Comments like 'we're really busy' or 'we're really popular' trigger a 'me too' response. This works in the rational of the DM that if lots of other people are interested in the products then they should be interested too. No one really likes to be left out or lacking what lots of other people are benefitting from.
Now that you've had the DM agree to arrangean appointment with you, it's highly important to confirm back the details of the appointment to them whilst they are still on the phone. The reasoning behind this is to ensure that all the information you have concerning the meeting is accurate so you can pass it onto your BDMs.
Nothing is going to get you more in trouble with your BDMs than them having travelled for 20 miles to get to one of your appointments then to find that you've sent them to the wrong office address or at the wrong time.
This stage of the process avoids the likelihood of that possibility occurring.
When a Decision Maker or influencer does agree to your appointment it is important to try and ensure that the Decision Maker writes down your appointment as soon as possible in their diary. Ideally you should aim to ensure this happens while you are still on the phone to the decision maker.
You'll find that having ensured that the DM has written the appointment in their diary, the chances of the DM either double booking your meeting or forgetting about it dramatically reduces. Thus you can effectively manage the likelihood of drop outs further down the line.
Once you have finished a call with an appointment booked you should follow up the call immediately with a follow up email confirming the details of the appointment.
An appropriate example you may use may read along the lines of:
Dear Mr. J Bloggs,
Thankyou for speaking to me earlier in regards to your 'insert appropriate description here'
Date: 12thDecember 2009
Address:Seagulls House, 2 North Street, London, SW1 2XX
Please reply to confirm receipt of this email.
We look forward to our meeting. In the meantime if you have any queries you would like me to address please feel free to contact me on 0161 XXX XXXX. Alternatively further information in regards to our company may be found at www.xyzcompany.co.uk
You'll notice that the above example is short and straight to the point. People tend to like short emails and this template keeps to that format.
You may also notice that this particular template does not mention anything in regards to cancelling an appointment. The reasoning behind this is not to make it hard for the Decision maker to do so rather so as to avoid implanting that suggestion into their mind.
TIP - Flagging your Email Confirmations as 'Important' increases the chance of your recipient reading your meeting confirmation rather than inadvertently flagging them as spam.
You can avoid drops out by using a number of different methods.
Confirming the Appointment Many times you will be asked by the Decision Maker to confirm the appointment with them prior to when the appointment is scheduled. Appointment Confirmation calls can be risky in that they provide the DM the opportunity to cancel the meeting.
Unless it is a particularly strongly set appointment I find that the best approach (unless asked otherwise) is to simply speak to the company receptionist and ask them to pass on the message to the relevant DM that you are going to be attending.
This way you maintain the control of the proceedings and minimize subsequent drop out opportunities.
However, if you find that you do need to speak to the DM to confirm the meeting it is important to try to keep the subsequent conversation short and sweet.
Something along the lines of
'Hi, It's George from XYZ, I'm just calling to confirm our appointment as arranged for 2.00pm tomorrow' is usually sufficient.
Sometimes you might even be able to get away with just leaving an answer machine message with a short concise message along the lines of 'Hi Steve, It's George from XYZ; Sorry I've been unable to get hold of you. I'm just calling you to confirm that we are still going come in to see you as arranged at 2:00pm tomorrow, any issues can you please call me back?'
By using the above format you're putting the emphasis on the DM to call you back if there are any problems with regard to the meeting. This means that you will not need to keep calling the DM to confirm the meeting and if they don't call you back you can be pretty certain that the meeting will go ahead as planned.
Expect that new Objections or queries may arise in your confirmation call that will need handling as appropriate.
Additional comments like 'Our BDM has looked into a number of different options for you and he feels there is a lot of things we offer that you can benefit from' helps to strengthen the appointment in that it shows that you have done your homework and still feel the appointment is viable. Also you may find that by suggesting that your BDM has looked in a number of options that the DM may be less inclined to cancel due to feelings of remorse over wasting the as of yet unknown BDM's time.
Tip- Automated SMS messages to a DM have the benefit of adding extra credibility to your organisation especially if the SMS originator is the name of the company rather than a Telephone number. Again this benefits you in the way that you avoid the opportunity of the DM dropping out from a scheduled appointment.
The Follow up
Once an appointment has been sat it is important to provide a follow up action to foreclose how the appointment went. This area is of particular importance if you are actively outsourcing your appointments to another company or if your salary is based partially or solely on revenue share.
Normally you'll find that once an appointment has been sat it's relatively straight forward to contact the DM from then on.
In a follow-up call you can gain valuable feedback as the DM's feelings in regard to your service and of course you'll want to use this feedback to improve your own performance.
Asking for Referrals
One vastly under rated method of increasingyour productivity is to ask for referrals off companies who have been happy with the quality of the work. Not only does this save you time in having to find good prospects yourself but your service is given an immediate positive boost through a trusted recommendation.
When you get the impression that a DM has been happy with the quality of your work simply ask them 'Bearing in mind that I've been able to be of benefit to you is there anyone else you may have in mind who might be able to benefit from a similar service as yourselves?'.
Try and make a habit of asking for around 3 referrals off every company you impress.
More Advanced Stuff
A Numbers Game
Appointment Setting is a numbers game. You have to expect that the majority of the time that the businesses you speak to will not want to take an appointment with you on the basis of one or two or maybe three calls.
It can be frustrating especially if you established that your prospect could really benefit from the product/serviceyou are offering.
You'll find that in appointment setting that the more prospects you speak to on a daily basis the larger amount of appointments that you manage to set. Likewise because the relationship is directly proportional the chances are that if you don't make many calls you are not going to be able to book many appointments- stressing the importance of ensuring that you manage your time effectively and keep time wastage to a minimum.
Manage your time well, you make more calls,make more calls you increase your appointments- Simple as that.
Rather than simply allowing any potential company to come in to put forward their business you'll find that many larger companies may employ what is known as a Tender process. Usually you can make the assumption that the implementation of a tender process means the potential of a large contract.
Tender Processes by and large are slow cumbersome processes that take up a lot more time than they are worth. Unless of course (and this is a big UNLESS) you receive a significant revenue share on any deals secured as a result of appointments that you've arranged yourself.
If that is the case and you're confidentthat your company can offer the service and price to compete effectively against the other companies joining in on the tender process, then as an appointment setter you can make significant commissions off dedicating asignificant amount of time to the process.
It is worth noting however than Tender processes are not events that you are going to see instant return on investment from. It usually takes anything from 3 - 6 months for a tender to finish - a long period of time to wait for the results you want.
I recommend avoiding them if:
· You're running behind in your targets
· You're only getting paid a flat fee on each appointment.
TIP- You can find information on Government Tenders by simply typing 'Government Tenders' in a search engine like Google or equivalent. Listed under the results page you'll find a large number of websites dedicated to providing informationon Contracts that the Government are actively putting out to tender and what the application procedures of each process involves.
Train New Starters
As an experienced Appointment Setter you may have new starters join your company. As a matter of principle I've always volunteered to train them myself. I recommend you try to do the same yourself. Not only does it give you a little time off the phones to recuperate, you'll make yourself more valuable for the company you work for by taking some of the slack off higher level management and sometimes you might even learn a new technique to use in your own appointment setting role. Teaching somebody is also a very good way to make sure you re-focus on all the important thaings that you already know, but may have ceased to do. So its a bonus all round!
Total Lifestyle Management
As Appointment Setting is one of the type of roles where being positive and upbeat is of extreme importance in order to be successful, I'm going to introduce to you the concept of Total Lifestyle Management. As most gym and fitness fanatics will be able to tell you, your state of mind is reflected by your general health & well being. If you're one of those types of people who like to go out drinking copious amounts of alcohol at the weekend and roll into work nursing a hangover on a Monday morning you WILL NOT and I repeat WILL NOT perform well as an appointment setter.
Total Lifestyle Management is about managing your lifestyle in its totality to achieve the goals you want. If achieving top sales or top appointments is your goal then I highly recommend applying TLM to all aspects of your life.
Eliminate negative processes from your behaviour and you will find that all that is left is positive results.
Eat well, get a good night's sleep & plenty of exercise and you'll find that when you come to making calls you approach them in the upbeat and pleasant manner that is going to get you the results you want.
So that's pretty much all there is to it for this version of the book. It's only a short version but I promise that when I come to next reviewing it in a few months time that it will be sufficiently longer. There are many different areas which I've left out so far like Tips for Gatekeepers, more b2b tips, How to buy b2b data online, where to buy b2b data online, Techniques for ruling the Influencer out of the equation,composing mail shots- to name but a few examples. All these new topics,improvements and expansions on the existing ones and even a whole new section dedicated to working freelance as an appointment setter are planned for the next edition.
In the meantime perhaps if you would like to find out more about Appointment Setting please feel free to drop me an email and I'll be happy to come into your organisation and offer further consultation on how to book appointments effectively (for a small fee, of course J).
I hope you've found what is included so far helpful and I'll love to hear any feedback you like to provide on what you've read.
Thanks for reading.