Before you have the opportunity to sell your product or service, you need to set a sales appointment with your prospect. Then, they’ll meet with your sales or account executives to discuss the aspects and value of your product or service in more detail.
But how can you spark their interest?
One of the most common methods is using prospecting calls to find out more information about your leads and warming them up to the idea of using your product. If sales reps can do this successfully, they set the appointment there and then, allowing your sales and account executives to provide them with a personalized presentation that encourages them to buy.
Here are a few over the phone appointment setting best practices your sales reps can follow to face fewer rejections and land more sales appointments:
- Consider the Prospect’s Time Zone
- Ask the Prospect If It’s a Good Time to Talk
- Use Sales Tools and Technologies to Your Advantage
- Showcase Your Impact With Case Studies and Social Proof
- Consistently Build Trust and Add Value to Your Business
- Follow a Talk Track—Not a Script
- Be Prepared to Overcome Any Sales Objection
Consider the Prospect’s Time Zone
First, you need to consider the time zone in which your prospects reside. If you’re on the East Coast and it’s 9:00 a.m., it’s easy to assume that everyone is already awake and working. But on the West Coast, it’s still 6:00 a.m., and waking someone up with a sales prospecting phone call is hardly the best way to make a good first impression.
It’s important to know the geographic location of all your prospects so you can time your calls appropriately. Arrange your calls throughout the day in batches so you never have to worry about calling someone at an inappropriate time.
If you want to set even more sales meetings over the phone, try to optimize the timing of your outgoing phone calls. Some times are more likely to result in a conversion than others, and the more you learn about your specific target demographics, the more likely you’ll be to nail that timing. There are some fundamental rules you can follow in this regard, but you also need to gather data from your own sales staff so you can calculate the perfect time for every situation.
While it’s important to consider the time zone you’re calling, it’s also important to keep in mind:
- Seasons of the year. Some businesses experience seasonality, dealing with a rotation of higher demand and lower demand throughout the year. During the busy season, be prepared to hire temporary sales staff and step up your efforts; during the slow season, feel free to reduce your call volume or focus more heavily on building up your lead pool.
- Days of the week. On Mondays, people are usually busy getting back to work. On Fridays, they’re looking forward to the weekend. That usually means the middle of the week is the best time to talk, but you’ll need to do some experimenting to figure out which days work best for your business.
- Times of the day. Overall, calling around 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. have the best response times, but a “perfect” time to call doesn’t really exist. When you’re first starting out, it’s best to make calls throughout the day and measure your effectiveness during different hours. This way, you can eventually figure out the best times to call. Even then, every individual is different, so it’s impossible to please everybody all the time.
Ask the Prospect If It’s a Good Time to Talk
When your prospect picks up the phone, you should give them a warm greeting and introduce yourself. In a sentence or two, give your name and a reason why you’re calling. Instead of saying that you’re trying to sell a product or that you work for this company, explain that you’re calling to achieve some objective. For example, you can say something like “Hi! I’m Dwight, and I’m calling to see if you’d like to increase your marketing ROI by 45 percent or more.”
Immediately after this greeting, ask your prospect if it’s a good time to talk. While this may seem like a simple gesture, and one you could take or leave, it’s important because it:
- Addresses a common objection: One of the most common objections you’ll face when trying to set sales appointments is, “I don’t have the time for this.” By asking your prospect if it’s a good time to talk, you’re immediately getting ahead of this potential objection. If this isn’t a good time for them to talk, you can move on. If it is, you can start the pitch.
- Shows respect: Asking this question is also a way to demonstrate respect for your prospect. It shows that you know they’re busy and that you respect their time. It’s a warm way to lead into a conversation about setting a sales appointment.
- Builds a platform for conversation: Once you know your prospect has some time to talk, you can focus on the core elements of your pitch. You’ll know you have at least a few minutes to go over the most important details, so you don’t have to rush or talk over your prospect to say what you want to say.
- Provides an opportunity for recovery: Some sales reps are afraid to ask this question because they know they might get hit with a negative response. But this is also an opportunity. If your prospect tells you they don’t have time to talk right now, you can follow up by asking, “when would be a good time to talk?”
Use Sales Tools and Technologies to Your Advantage
Sales tools and technologies can enhance your capabilities, make sales reps more efficient, and ultimately improve your results. The best tool to have is a comprehensive customer relationship management (CRM) platform, which should grant you the following:
- Proper lead management: Lead generation is a strategy that unfolds across your sales, marketing, and advertising departments, so it’s only natural for things to get disorganized. It pays to have a single source of truth (SSOT) where you can gather and access all your data on all your leads at any time.
- Lead scoring: The best CRM platforms offer lead scoring features as well, working automatically to estimate the relevance and value of each lead in your pool. The higher the score, the more likely this person is to buy your product. Sales reps can use this information to prioritize relevant leads that are likely to make an appointment.
- Easy access to prospect information: The better you know the person you’re calling, the more likely you’ll be to successfully set an appointment with them. Even if you only know a handful of details, like where they work and what their position is, you can use this information to have a warmer and more relevant conversation. CRM platforms give sales reps easy access to this information.
- Easy access to sales materials: CRMs are also useful because they give sales reps access to more sales materials, such as case studies, company statistics, and talk tracks they can use to guide the conversation.
- Automation capabilities: Many modern CRM platforms also feature at least some automation features, such as automatically dialing phone numbers or automating secondary workflows.
Keep in mind that different CRM platforms have their own features, pricing, and strengths and weaknesses. Choose your platform carefully.
Showcase Your Impact With Case Studies and Social Proof
A sales meeting isn’t a major commitment, but many prospects won’t be willing to move forward unless you can demonstrate the true impact of your product. The best ways to do this are with case studies and other forms of social proof.
- Social proof: There’s a reason why 97 percent of consumers read customer reviews before making a purchase. People desire social proof before they purchase anything; they want to hear from friends, family members, and other peers that this is something worth buying. You need to demonstrate to your prospects that other people like them have already bought your product and benefited from it, making case studies a great approach.
- The power of storytelling: Case studies are also powerful because they tell a story. Humans are drawn to narratives, so we’re usually more easily persuaded by stories than standalone facts.
- Seeing through the eyes of peers: What’s it like to be a customer using this product? Case studies allow prospects to see through the eyes of their peers who have already made a purchase.
If you don’t have any formal case studies you can send to your prospects, consider supplementing with reviews and testimonials.
Consistently Build Trust and Add Value to Your Business
In line with this, consistently build trust and add value to your business throughout this initial conversation. Focus on things like:
- Company statistics: How has your company been performing? How many new users have you acquired? What are the average usage rates of your product?
- Awards and recognitions: Has your company won any significant awards or recognitions in the recent past?
- Partnerships and previous clients: Has your company formed any valuable partnerships or worked with noteworthy clients in the past?
- Measurable results: How much measurable value can your business bring to this prospect? And how can you prove it?
Follow a Talk Track—Not a Script
It’s a common practice for salespeople to follow scripts, sometimes verbatim, for a consistent (and hypothetically effective) approach. But this can actually work against you. If you need materials to guide you through the conversation, use a loose “talk track” with suggested talking points and a general flow of conversation to follow.
This can help you in several ways:
- Avoids the “robot” effect: Prospects can often tell that you’re reading from a script. If all you’re doing is reading words on a screen, you’re going to sound more like a robot than a person. This diminishes personal connection and trust.
- Encourages listening: When sales reps focus on getting through a script, their attention is on talking more than listening. If you want to be an effective appointment setter, you need to listen at least as much as you talk, so you can find out more about what this prospect wants and needs.
- Empowers individual sales reps: People have their own ways of doing things, and that’s perfectly okay. Locking everyone into the same faceless script strips them of their personality and individual preferences.
- Provides flexibility: There’s no surefire formula for landing a sales appointment because prospects differ in many ways. Following a talk track rather than a script, gives you the flexibility to approach each individual in the way that suits them best.
Be Prepared to Overcome Any Sales Objection
Finally, be prepared to overcome any sales objection that might come your way. Even during the appointment setting phase, some of your prospects are going to be reluctant to move forward despite the apparent advantages of your product.
These are some of the most commonly encountered sales objections by appointment setters:
- Pricing: Is the prospect concerned about the price of this product? Use statistics to explain why it’s worth the money or consider offering a discount. If you have multiple pricing tiers, this would be a good time to mention them.
- Product relevance: Is the prospect unsure about whether this product is a good fit? Use social proof to demonstrate why it’s worked well for their peers—and if they’re insistent this isn’t a good fit, consider moving on.
- Product value: Is the prospect unconvinced this product can do what you say it can do? Provide whatever objective evidence you can, consider offering a free trial, and insist that you can show off the full capabilities on a full sales call.
- Scheduling and timing: Is your prospect unable to attend a sales meeting due to a busy schedule? Or are you finding it hard to set an appointment? If your prospect doesn’t have time to talk in the next few weeks, there may be an opportunity to nurture them and reach out to them again in the future.
If you want to be more successful at consistently setting sales appointments over the phone, these should be your biggest takeaways:
- Treat your prospects with respect and thoughtfulness. Call them at the right time, ask them if they have time to talk, and treat them in a warm, friendly manner.
- Use the best sales tools available to you. A sufficiently robust CRM platform can make your life significantly easier.
- Build company trust and showcase your value. People won’t even meet with you unless they feel they can trust you.
- Ditch the script. It might make for a decent training tool, but it will end up making you sound robotic.
- Be ready to overcome the most common objections. You’re often only one lingering objection away from setting the appointment.
Interested in setting more sales appointments? Or do you just need some extra support in your sales and marketing campaigns? Abstrakt Marketing Group is here to help. Contact us today to get started!