Appointment setting is used to schedule an official meeting between a qualified sales lead and a representative of your company. It is part of a wider business and lead generation strategy and the stage between initial prospecting and closing a deal.
Firstly, it isn’t easy. Appointment setting can be tough. You need strategy, focus and determination. You need to know the tricks of the trade. The good news is there are tried and tested methods that can greatly improve your chances of prospecting and setting sales appointments.
Here are our eight top tips on how to become an expert in appointment setting.
1. Time your approach well
Knowing when it’s a good time to request an appointment is as important as knowing when not to ask. Judging the ‘mood’ of your prospective client can influence the overall outcome of a sales pitch. Use confidence when making the initial request and ensure the conversation between you flows. Whatever you do, avoid becoming that overly pushy salesperson which conveys a feeling of desperation and insecurity and will undoubtedly harm your chances of converting appointments into sales.
2. Do your research
It might be tempting to use an old cold-calling script or tired email template when attempting to secure an appointment. Whatever you do, avoid the temptation.
Emails may, of course, contain common themes such as call-to-actions, but never rehash the same information that has previously been sent out. Be original and check what you are sending isn’t identical to a previous email – it will almost certainly flop. By adding your personal stamp, you will make the receiver feel like you are talking to them directly and not simply regurgitating a message approved by your MD.
Before you hit the send button it is important to know some key facts about a potential client. Put yourself in the client’s shoes. They receive hundreds of emails a day, many of which go unread, marked as spam or simply deleted. You want your email to stand out from the crowd.
Personalisation and the element of human connection is key in many sales strategies, exemplified by the popular framework of Persona-based selling. This element should never be overlooked when implementing successful appointment setting.
3. Know your target audience
Social networking sites like LinkedIn provide valuable insight into your client’s education history, employment background and general interests which can be used to personalize your message.
Prospective clients will almost certainly work for a company with a website – search the website for news stories, product launches and other details that will help you familiarize yourself with the business.
It is important to invest time in this process and a quick search on Google, Twitter, Instagram and other social media should provide a flavour of their interests and personality.
4. Use the correct tone of voice
You are unlikely to achieve a positive outcome from a potential client if the tone of your email or phone call is wrong.
Confidence is key in this respect – you want the person to feel you have done your research and you are offering a service they cannot live without. Avoid giving the impression that you are indebted to them for sparing their time. Remember, your time is equally valuable so be confident in yourself and the product or service you are selling. After all, you may be offering something that could solve a long-standing issue for them.
5. Plan your appointment-setting approach
You’ve just spoken with a potential client for the first time or received a positive email response. It may be tempting to dive straight in and attempt to schedule an appointment. But this approach can seem too forward and put the client under pressure.
It is far more beneficial to engage in general conversation with the client during initial exchanges. Be enthusiastic, interesting and complimentary – and certainly avoid the ‘hard sell’.
Remember, you are trying to achieve two things:
to qualify a lead and determine if they are a potential customer
to raise a lead’s interest in the product or service you are selling
Following this formula will strengthen the client’s curiosity and open further conversations about the clear benefits of working with you.
6. Secure that all-important appointment
You are comfortable with the path the conversation is taking and your client is engaged and at ease – it’s time to take the plunge and ask for a meeting. Be specific and provide the important details such as date, time, location and whether or not you or someone else from the business will be attending in person.
As the appointment is occurring in the early stages of your business relationship, it is wise to be reasonable with your request. Do not demand too much of your client’s time as that could put them off. Aim to focus on the main advantages of your product or service. If that goes to plan, your client will almost certainly request a follow-up meeting at which point you can discuss the subject in far greater detail.
Not all salespeople take this approach. Some avoid talking about their product or service altogether and instead focus on the problems facing their client. By building a clear picture of these issues and challenges, the client might be the one who ends up requesting an appointment rather than the salesperson.
7. Leverage appointment-setting technology
You have worked hard on grabbing the attention of a potential client – now make it easy for them to accept your invitation for an appointment. A range of digital software can make this a quick and pain-free process. Tools such as Zoho Bookings, Calendly and SimplyBook.me invite target clients to click a link in your email that takes them directly to your calendar so they can choose a suitable date and time to schedule an appointment. It’s a fuss-free tactic and avoids lengthy email trails.
8. Check and double-check
Having invested time and effort in securing an appointment with a potential client, the last thing you want is to be let down at the final hour. ‘No-shows’ are the bane of salespeople’s lives and occur regularly.
So how do you avoid this happening?
Firstly, take nothing for granted. Your appointment is set in your calendar, but don’t settle for that. Follow up with a phone call or email (ideally both) and don’t be afraid to provide extra information such as a meeting agenda.
If you are setting an appointment by phone, you must be resilient and take no-shows on the chin. You will come across them, but always maintain a professional attitude and aim to keep the conversation open in the most tactful way.
Let inside global manage your appointment-setting agenda
We set up hundreds of calls and face-to-face meetings for our clients every month, allowing them to focus on the other core areas of their business. From arranging appointments to making follow-up calls, we provide everything you need. Contact us now.