The cancelled appointment is one of the most infuriating events in sales.  It wastes times, destroys productivity, damages morale, and ruins ROI. Some salespeople will encounter this problem on a regular basis, while others only suffer from it occasionally. Unsurprisingly, it is the latter that has the best performance figures, earnings, and bonuses. More surprising, is that this factor is more within the salesperson's control than they think.

Through my years of working with and within sales teams, I’ve developed a deep understanding of why one salesperson keeps almost every appointment they set, while another suffers so badly with cancelled appointments. The successful salesperson uses effective appointment-setting scripts and follow-up protocols that prevent cancellations and mitigate the damage they cause.

Cold calling is harder today than ever

According to research by Telenet and Ovation, it takes more than twice as many cold calls to reach a prospect today than it did in 2007. Those eight calls today take time.  In 2007, a salesperson only needed to make about four.  Those eight calls today take much more time for the same results.

Eventually the salesperson will speak to a prospect, and using cold calling sales techniques designed for the 21st century will have a better chance than most to make an appointment. Let’s assume that you’ve done all this, made the appointment, and taken time to get fully prepared. Then on the day, the appointment gets cancelled, or the prospect is a no-show.

By using appointment-setting scripts, salespeople can guard against this phenomenon.

6 steps to setting a sales appointment in stone

There are six steps in appointment setting scripts that work:

1.     Gather as much detail as possible

The more you know about your prospect, the more likely you'll close the sale. Of course, the modern selling process itself requires you to know your customer to identify new markets and build relationships using emotional intelligence.

The key here is to know as much about your customer as possible, both in a personal and business context.  Name, address, and contact numbers are a given; but gather information such a birthdays, too – the power of a simple congratulatory message shouldn’t be ignored. Learn to care about what the client cares about, and listen for any information that they volunteer.  Children, pets, hobbies - anything that can create an authentic connection with the client.

2.     Contact by email before attempting a cold call

Send out two emails before calling.

Let this be an interesting piece of information that the customer would consider valuable to their business and industry. Follow up the first email with a second, five to seven days later. Get into the mind of the prospect before you make the appointment setting call.

3.     Prepare for the call

With the basic knowledge of basis of emotional intelligence, you’ll be in a position to better understand the fears and anxieties of your lead. They’ll be concerned that you are only calling to sell and that your call will be a waste of their time. It's your job to let them know this is not the case.

Understand what their needs are, the problems they face in their business, and how your product or service satisfies these needs and problems. Be ready to let them know that you are not going to waste their time.

4.     Make the call

Remember that this call is to make the appointment. This is not the time to sell your product or service it is simply to get the appointment. Nothing more, nothing less. Get ready to take notes as you conduct the call, and focus on that one goal – make an appointment.

5.     Put the appointment in your diary and the prospect’s

Use an electronic diary to enter the details of your appointment, and ensure the appointment is in your target’s diary, too. Remind the client to grab a pencil and paper or input it into their phone, that way you don't have to guess if they've kept the date.

6.     Set reminders, and act on them

Make sure you confirm the appointment by email, and call the prospect’s PA to ensure the correct time and date has been set. Then:

  • Immediately send your pre-appointment letter
  • Update the prospect before the appointment
  • Call the prospect the day before the appointment to confirm

Effective appointment setting scripts help to confirm your professionalism and preparedness. They keep you at the forefront of the prospect’s mind and thought, and will ensure that appointments are never broken again (unless there is a real emergency).

Our integrity selling course will help your sales team onboard new skills and hone those skills to perfection. The result will be a high impact sales team on an exponential sales curve. Contact us today to discuss how to propel your sales team to qualified success.

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