As a sales rep many years ago, I remember coming into the office one rainy and foggy morning with absolutely no sales appointments on my calendar. Remembering the old Chinese proverb, He who see most, sell most, I knew I had to get creative and do some chat ’em up prospecting to turn nothing into something for that day.
I fought off all the normal excuses for not hitting the bricks, and soon headed toward an area of the city with plenty of strip centers. I set a goal that I wouldn’t break for lunch until I had canvassed two of those centers, comprised of roughly 30 businesses. I reminded myself from the outset that the most important thing that day was to relax and have some fun, while engaging in as many prospecting conversations as possible.
Several hours later I ducked into a diner to grab a sandwich and inventory my results from pressing the flesh that nasty stormy February day. I don’t remember most of what was said, but I do remember I was able to schedule four firm appointments and got permission to call back four other businesses. That burst of prospecting conversations paid off handsomely for me in new sales over the next 60 days.
My purpose today is to translate the appointment setting process I just described into simple steps that can lead you to that same prospecting success. You may be the smoothest presenter on the planet, but if you don’t have an appointment with a qualified prospect, you can’t sell anything.
Regardless whether your prospecting conversations are in person or by phone, there are really only four components to obtaining the appointments necessary to achieving your sales objectives. I’ll use my sales coaching business to provide you with examples of what I might say to generate an appointment, as a way to help you sharpen your own prospecting ax.
This is more common sense than anything else. Start by identifying yourself and providing a one sentence description of your business:
“Mr. Kapoor, I am Doug from RTS. We specialize in providing economical sales coaching designed to improve prospecting productivity.”
Attempt to develop interest by trying to uncover what might be keeping this person up at night. After making a connection, provide a reason for continuing the conversation. In simple terms, describe a benefit for agreeing to meet with you.
“If your company is like most I work with, sales productivity is not where it should be. That’s said, I’d like to spend a few minutes with you to determine specifically what you’re facing. Then I can provide a brief overview of the proven strategies we advocate to improve sales productivity. May I ask you a couple of questions to see if we have anything in common?”
If you receive a negative response or sense you may have caught the prospect at a bad time, ask permission for a day/time to re-contact and withdraw.
Assuming a willingness to move forward, ask open circumstances questions relative to what your business does. Drill down on responses with why questions to establish need(s), which may open the door for your product or service to help eliminate the pain.
“What one thing concerns you most in regard to your sales force?” (Too few sales appointments)
“Can you tell me a little more about that?” (My people seem fearful, but my boss says they are just lazy)
“What have you done so far to improve that situation?” (We’ve started conducting two sales meetings a week instead of just one)
“How’s that working for you?” (I’ve seen no change, except for a bad attitude about the extra meeting. Something needs to change)
Follow your line of questioning by verifying the need and to show you were really listening, which should help you at least get an appointment.
“I agree with your concern. If salespeople are costing you money due to too few productive sales calls, you can’t afford to keep them on your staff. Eventually results like this will reflect on your performance too.”
As you ask for an appointment, remind them why they need to meet with you. Confirm the appointment and thank them for agreeing to meet.
“Based on your concerns and my experience, I really feel it would be worthwhile for us to get together and discuss your productivity issues in greater detail. What about Friday morning or next Tuesday afternoon; would either of those fit into your schedule?” Great, I look forward to meeting with you then.”
There you go! One sales appointment down, many to go. Conversational and consultative. Rinse and repeat.
“I am a PC technician and want you to know I just started reading your book and it’s very motivational and useful. I’ve only read a couple of chapters but it’s truly helping me as today I sold $1,000 of pest control. Thanks for your words of wisdom and I’m excited to find more ‘secrets’ in your book.” Zach Shaw, Sikeston, MO.
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