When you’re prospecting by telephone, it’s important to keep the conversation on track and moving toward an appointment. Unfortunately, you’ll find not all prospects are easy to keep on track. You’ll encounter objections and your prospects may refuse to set appointments.
Let’s take a look at the most common reasons why prospects raise objections to granting you an appointment:
1. Your approach to getting appointments may be poorly designed.
You can solve that by understanding one simple thing – At this stage your task is not to sell your product. Never be tempted to sell any of your product’s benefits on the phone. Otherwise there’s no reason for your prospect to see you. Your goal is to sell an appointment.
Once you understand that setting an appointment is like making a miniature sale, it’s easy to see how you might need to adjust your approach. You’ll want to make the best possible impression when you “meet” your prospect over the phone. Star t by asking if it’s a good time to speak. Then ask questions that will help you qualify the prospect and sell the appointment:
• How familiar are you with our organization and our products and services?
• What kind of a time frame, if any, do you have for making a decision or seeing potential suppliers?
• What are you tr ying to accomplish with a product like ours?
• I understand that your biggest problem is “????????????”. What steps have you taken to alleviate it?
Then, move toward setting the appointment: “it sounds as if we can help you. We’ve helped lots of other organizations with the same issues.” Now, set up the appointment – ask, “Would Tuesday be good, or is another day this week better?”
2. The second reason you might fail to gain an appointment by telephone is if you ask too few questions and do too much talking!
Don’t fall prey to this temptation. Your chances of setting up an appointment will be slim to none if you do all the talking. Instead, ask questions and listen carefully – you’ll learn a lot more about your prospect’s needs and wants, and you’ll start to gain more insight into their buying requirements.
Practice active listening – repeating what you’ve heard to confirm your understanding. For example, you might say something like, “So, Ms. Prospect, what i’m hearing is that your company would like to have a solution in place by next spring? is that accurate?”
Don’t forget to take notes and never interrupt.
3. The third reason for failure could be related to your expectations.
Are you in the habit of expecting the prospect NOT to grant you an appointment? Change your expectations! Even over the phone, your prospect will pick up on any self-doubt from the tone of your voice. Learn to mentally prepare yourself before each call, so the tone of your voice clearly indicates you fully expect the prospect to want to meet with you.
4. The single biggest mistake is failing to convince your prospect that the appointment itself will provide a benefit.
Like any other sale, selling the appointment requires letting the prospect know what’s in it for them. Although the appointment isn’t going to cost the prospect any money, you are asking the prospect to give up some valuable time. You need to be able to ask the right questions and then provide a strong reason for the prospect to believe that an appointment with you will be time well-spent.
Use These words to Ask for an Appointment, and You’ll Get Great Results:
“Let’s get together and let me show you how we can be of service to you and help you resolve the issues you’re concerned about. But i’ll promise you this: if it looks like our product won’t be a perfect fit, I won’t hesitate to recommend someone else. Does that sound fair? What is a good day to get together?”
Note: Don’t use this as a hollow trick designed to gain an appoint- ment. If your product is not a good fit for your prospect, you should always be willing to say so. and you’ll gain more in the long run if you recommend someone else instead of trying to force a sale when your product doesn’t fit the prospect’s requirements.
Confirming Your Appointment
never assume that your prospect will remember your appoint- ment. instead, do ever ything in your power to ensure that you have the best chance of a positive and receptive hearing. Con- sider sending a handwritten note or a friendly email to remind your prospect about your appointment. You may want to fur ther confirm it with a telephone call to guarantee that you won’t be wasting time by going to visit someone who won’t be there!
Some salespeople argue that confirming the appointment is not in your best interest because it will give the prospect an oppor tunity to cancel or reschedule. That logic is flawed for two reasons:
1. If you have to worry about “giving the prospect the oppor tu- nity to cancel,” you probably haven’t done a ver y good job of selling the appointment.
2. Your time is better spent pursuing other oppor tunities than traveling to an appointment that doesn’t happen.
How to ensure Your Appointments will never Cancel
Here are some things you can say to guarantee that your prospect will be excited about your upcoming appointment:
• “We have some great solutions to those issues you described. let’s get together, and i’ll show you how we can help you.”
• “I’m glad to hear you have gotten to the point you’d like to solve some of the things we’ve talked about. i’m looking forward to showing you how we have helped others like you.”
• “It sounds as if we might be able to help. When can we get together?”
The Bottom Line on Prospecting
If, after three attempts to secure an appointment with a prospect you are still getting the brush-off, find another prospect! Your goal in prospecting is ver y simple:To get enough appointments that you’ll be in a position to make enough presentations to quali-
fied prospects. You’ll need to sell each appointment in exchange for some of the prospect’s valuable time. and you’ll need to ask questions that will help you qualify each prospect along the way. it’s as simple as that.