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Active listening in customer dialogue – Shut up and listen … until it hurts
20. September 2018
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Appointment Setting – From Sales Bottleneck to a Scheduling Machine

If you want to make an appointment with a potential customer, you typically have to take the first step. Usually the first targeted contact in sales is via phone. Despite the presence of telephones and the basic set-up of a scalable appointment-making methodology, many companies are having trouble getting a large number of appointments.

Appointment Setting has two bottlenecks Bottleneck 1: A first major bottleneck is already in prospecting. It's about figuring out who the best person in the company is to talk to in your business.

Bottleneck 2: A second bottleneck is to make an appointment with the person as soon as you locate them.

A proper Appointment Setting routine allows telephone salespeople to increase their goals up to tenfold (10x), thereby widening bottlenecks.

Distraction and Lack of Routine: Problems that Prevent Sales Reps from Setting Appointments

Often we are surrounded by a lot of distraction, drama and therefore we lack the focus. In a next phase, we distract ourselves by first having to organize ourselves. Our workplace, our digital workplace, we all know it, we think of thousands of things that can be improved. What follows next: Collect contacts. In the times of digital and social networks, we spend hours and hours on sending and answering contact inquiries, in order to generate potential customers for later on. The next level is lead generation. We are either at the core or on the fringes in generating leads from marketing material, but did you realize? We do not have a single appointment yet. If we do not have a routine, we lose ourselves.

Hands-on tips on how to achieve the Appointment Setting Routine

1. Environment

Appointment Tracker: Keep your progress clearly visible for your motivation. This can be digital on your screen, on a flipchart or whiteboard.

Eliminate all glitches: Close up windows of mail in the days of your concentrated telephony, and the like, so that your attention is entirely on the current call.

Stand up instead of sitting: You have a completely different, much more powerful voice, as soon as you call while standing.

Use a headset: When making a call, your hands should be free, so you can make light gestures but mainly record notes or even write down which important information you learned from your customer.

2. Timing

Use atypical times: Business leaders are not in the office from 9 to 5, but the gatekeepers are very likely. If you are trying to make an appointment directly with a manager, try either very early in the morning (before 8am), late in the evening (after 6pm) or during lunch break.

Tact your telephone day: If you really want to make many calls and make successful calls at the same time, you should set a fixed procedure only for outbound calls to arrange appointments. For example, this may mean that you start making calls to decision-makers very early in the morning and work with you on appointments over secretaries / secretaries in the morning. At lunchtime, you place a short decision-maker call window again and call over the afternoon for appointment arrangements with the middle management, who manage their appointments themselves, before you go for another short decision-makers round in the evening. In each case, plan on taking a break in between to mentally prepare yourself for the next target group.

3. Process and Content

Good preparation: Preparing without getting lost in trifles is one of the secrets of effective appointment settings. So the call must not sound arbitrary and must be tailored in some way to the called company. It is in the area of ​​content in calls for appointments not yet to go into details of the product / service, but to have a short and interesting awakening pitch at the core, to use objections for themselves and to get to the point very quickly.

Ask the called person if she is free to speak: When you make a call, it is not recommended to start directly with the sales pitch. First, ask if the moment you call is just right.

Use recommendations: If someone refers you to the company or a person in the company, this automatically raises your level of trust in the current conversation. Here, recommendations can come from people outside the target company, but also within the company. For example, if you can name a supposed gatekeeper by name. For this purpose, it is necessary to note the name carefully at the beginning of the call and, if necessary, to ask again. The key is the top-down approach. Start as high as possible in the company and then get to the right contact person.

Get to the point: To be effective, you do not have time to tell your long story every time you call. Your contact person usually has another task at the moment. Therefore, do not forget to get to the point and ask for an appointment. It is important to be specific. For example, "When does Ms. Meier have a window for a 10-minute call early next week?".

9 Steps to a Successful Pre-Call or "Mapping Call"

It may make sense to make a "mapping call" prior to the actual appointment-setting call in order to define (or confirm) the right person in charge and obtain an internal referral. We got the inspiration for this great tool from Predictable Revenue.

  1. Call up high in the company hierarchy and ask for the Assistant to the Managing Director. (For smaller companies this can also be a receptionist) >> Objective: To talk to someone who knows the decision makers in the company as far as possible.
  2. Ask if it is convenient to speak, eg "did I catch you at an inconvenient time?".
  3. Tell honestly why you call and ask for help in finding the right person.
  4. Let the person ask what you do and how you help customers. (Your answer is a short crisp pitch)
  5. Ask "Are we a fit?" Questions, eg "how many employees do you have in the telephone sales?"
  6. Let your contact person make an internal recommendation
  7. Ask for more names, recommendations, or qualifying information.
  8. The transfer: Be ready when the target person picks up, with whom you now want to set an appointment.
  9. Update your CRM data with the new information


Here we go

With the pre-call and the tips for the actual procedure in the appointment-setting call the base is made, that you can now arrange a much higher throughput of appointments.

Do you want further support from HumanVoice? Then please contact us
André Wehr
André Wehr
Customer communication on the phone is an essential part of generating customer-focused traction for Your business. Especially when scalable, customer dialog on the phone is a game changer.

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