Two shoe salesmen traveled to a remote island to test out an untapped market.
After spending a few days there, one salesman gave his boss a call and said, “I’ll be on the next flight home. I won’t be able to sell any shoes here because everyone walks around barefoot.”
But a few minutes later, the boss received an email from the other salesman: “Get our production lines ready! The prospects here are unlimited! None of them wear shoes!”
Getting a difficult B2B prospect to set an appointment with you is about refusing to give into their initial rejection and, instead, discovering their true needs. Here are some tips for setting appointments over the phone, as well as some helpful sales prospecting methods and techniques.
Focusing on setting the appointment, not selling the service
You’re a salesperson. That means you’re revved up to make the sale. But if you’re tasked with being an appointment setter, what you need to be focused on selling is the appointment itself.
Why is that important? Because most leads are skeptical, and they’re going to throw up roadblocks if you leap straight to making the sale without first leading them, step-by-step, through the funnel.
Plus, if the prospect isn’t all that interested in the product or service, you can still convey the value of meeting with them.
Talk like a doctor diagnosing a problem
Essentially, you’re not just selling the appointment, either. You’re selling yourself as a problem-solver, a pain reliever, and partner to help them build their business. That’s why you should avoid talking like a salesperson on the phone.
Try this next time: Envision yourself as a doctor and your prospect as a patient. As a doctor, your focus is on discovering your patient’s problem, diagnosing the cause, and prescribing a solution.
In other words, you need to be focused on helping them, and they need to see you as someone who is trustworthy, experienced, and has their best interests in mind.
Don’t end the call at the first “no”
It’s easy for a prospect to say “no,” even if they really need what you’re offering, but you shouldn’t end the call at the first “no.” If you were offering to help a friend in desperate need, would you immediately give up on them if they didn’t accept your initial offer for assistance?
Of course not.
Even if the prospect makes it clear that they do not want your help, you can still ask them if they know anyone in their network who could use the product or service you’re offering.
Why would that work? It would work if you’ve left a great impression on the prospect. They may have another solution in mind for relieving their pain points, but if they find you friendly, trustworthy, and authentic, they’ll be more willing to invite you into their network.
Harness the power of “can I make a recommendation”?
Your prospecting call may be going well, but now it’s time for the big ask. Now you need to transition to setting an appointment.
Try using this phrase: “Can I make a recommendation?”
That simple wording places you in the role of being an advisor, not a salesperson, and most people are at least willing to listen to someone’s recommendation.
Set the appointment even if it’s far in the future
If your lead is a business owner or other type of decision maker, they’ll be notoriously busy. They might try to blow you off with a “get back with me in a month” call-ender or simply be too overwhelmed to make any decisions anytime soon.
It doesn’t matter how far off in the future that they’re suggesting an appointment. The fact that they’re willing to meet with you at some point is huge.
But don’t leave that appointment for some vaguely defined future date. Both of you will likely forget to follow up on setting it. Ask the prospect if they have their calendar open, set a time and date, and follow up with a calendar invite.
Setting the appointment now alleviates any confusion or stress around needing to find a time when that call-back date gets closer. Keep in mind: This appointment is a placeholder. Appointments can usually be moved, and by scheduling it early on, you and the prospect will always be on the same page and will have the time to adjust accordingly if things come up.
Just remain diligent and always follow up when changes are made.
Don’t suggest just one appointment time
Here’s an easy one.
Don’t suggest just one appointment time. A single option is too easy to reject. Suggest at least two times.
For instance, ask them if you can meet at 1 p.m. on Thursday or 2 p.m. next Monday.
Make sure the next steps are on the prospect’s calendar
The next step in your process won’t always be an appointment. Whatever it is, don’t end a call without setting a clear next step and getting that next step on the prospect’s calendar, not just yours.
Remember: Getting your prospect to commit to the next step doesn’t make you come across as pushy — it makes you sound on top of things. Nobody wants to move forward with a salesperson who comes across as lackadaisical.
Take notes and schedule your follow-up strategy
Don’t let the joy of setting an appointment distract you from doing the proper tracking that you need to do. Nothing kills the elation of securing that hard-to-get meeting than realizing later that you’ve forgotten an important detail from your call.
If you didn’t take notes during the call, write down everything you can remember immediately after it.
Always keep track of who to touch base with again and get your follow-up schedule on your calendar.
Don’t leave the prospect wondering
Always know the next step with a prospect. If they ask questions and you need to gather more info, set an appointment with them to call them back. Get that appointment on your calendar — and theirs — and send them a meeting reminder.
Don’t leave a prospect wondering when — or if — you’ll call them back. Let them know that your enthusiasm for meeting with them is genuine and hasn’t fizzled.
Don’t stall out, it’s worse than a “no” upfront
In fact, achieving your goal of setting sales appointments over the phone is no time to let your foot up on the gas. You haven’t won the race yet. You’ve just completed the first lap. Or the second lap. Or the third.
Letting a pipeline stall out because you don’t constantly push for the next step is worse than getting told “no” upfront.
A prospect who tells you “no” may not need what you’re selling right now, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be ready and willing in the future. However, if you let a prospect believe you’re ghosting them or just don’t really care, they’ll never want to entertain the idea of doing business with you again.
Ask who else will be at the appointment
In your glee at getting an appointment set, don’t forget to ask a very important question: Who else will be at the meeting?
Will it be that prospect or someone else? Or both? Or more? You’ll be able to prepare better for the appointment if you know what other decision-makers are going to be in the room.
Get names and titles and start searching their website and social media to get a gauge on what type of approach will work best for your sales pitch.
Here’s a bonus: If you can get the appointment onto multiple people’s calendars, they’re more likely to keep the appointment. They’ll be reminding each other about it, and if the key decision-maker can’t make it, you won’t have to cancel the appointment.
Help your prospect prepare for the meeting
If the prospect has time before the appointment, ask them to shoot you some questions. Prompt them to think about what it is they want to walk away with in that meeting. Those questions will go a long way in helping you properly prepare a dialogue. It’s a sure-fire way to direct an efficient, targeted meeting.
Make lots of calls
Make lots of prospecting calls. This one’s obvious. It’s the key to racking up those successful prospecting calls. But finding the motivation to make it a practice can be difficult. Think of it this way: If you’re trying to hit a target, do you want a quiver full of arrows or just one? Plus, the more calls you make, the less disappointing each rejection will be.
Remember: This is a numbers game. Do the math and play the game to win.
Now pick up that phone and dial your way to a deal.
Learn how we at Kraken Sales Funnels can help by connecting with a Krakenaut.