Tips for Setting Appointments Over the Phone

Cold calling for sales appointments is hands-down one of the most challenging parts of the generating pipeline. Use these tips to maximize your efforts. 

Let’s not kid ourselves, cold call appointment setting is brutal. Some sources discussing how to get appointments in sales indicate that no more than 3% of cold calls lead to an initial appointment, and that’s the top of the range. So, it’s no surprise that so many people will tell you that cold calling for sales appointments is hands-down one of the most challenging parts of generating sales pipeline.

The good news is that there are ways for people who know how to set a sales appointment over the phone to improve those numbers. However, you need to be willing to implement cold calling as one element of a cohesive strategy for making sales appointments by telephone rather than picking names and numbers out of a publicly available directory.

Luckily many of these strategies for setting sales appointments over the phone are easy to implement, especially if you follow these tips to maximize your efforts and take the time to learn how to get more appointments in sales: (source)

Before the call

Perhaps the biggest mistake for people who don’t know how to set appointments in sales is thinking that your call begins when you pick up the phone. You may think that, but it doesn’t. Anyone who understands how to set sales appointments knows that your call begins when you decide who you will call. Once you know the person and organization you will contact, you are ready to start work. There are several stages you should go through before even thinking about picking up the receiver:

Do Your Research

Pre-call research is a vital part of how to get a sales appointment over the phone. Nobody wants to make an appointment with someone who doesn’t know about who they are or what they do. It comes across as disrespectful if they don’t think you were willing to do a little bit of research before calling them. 

Before you make the call, you want to know the business you are calling, what they do, and have an idea of what you can do to help them.

Write a Cadence

One of the truisms of phone appointment setting is that you are very rarely going to get through and make an appointment on the very first call. In most cases, booking sales appointments takes an average of eight or more touches before you can engage a prospect in the current market. 

That being the case, you should set up a cadence for how many days you will do outreach, what you intend to say on each day, and the emails and voicemails you will leave. By having a plan and keeping records of your activity, you can test and refine your approach to optimize your cadence over time further.

Practice Appointment Setting Calls

There’s a famous saying that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a complex field. While cold calls don’t rise to the level of professional athletic performance or composing a symphony, the principle still applies.

Practice how you will approach people when you are appointment setting on the phone and their objections. Being prepared for common objections like someone saying they have no time for your call and rehearsing your introduction are all important building blocks for a successful initial call. (source)

During the call

Once you’re talking to the other person, you can’t just treat it like a casual conversation at the company water-cooler. This call is purposeful, you have a reason for calling them, and you owe it to both yourself and your prospective lead to treating their time and your own with respect. Respect is an important part of any business relationship, including how to get sales appointments over the phone. That being said, here are some tips to follow to help manage a successful initial contact.

Directness

Get to the point–you don’t want to beat around the bush. This is an important part of how to set appointments on the phone. Again, this comes back to basic respect and valuing their time. You want to tell them why you are calling and ask for permission to continue with the conversation. This shows respect and can help build a stronger foundation from the beginning.

Probe for Pain

Selling is all about finding solutions for your potential buyer. Find out your prospective client’s current source of pain, and demonstrate what you can do to resolve it. Taking a look at a consumer example; if someone is looking for a new car because the AC doesn’t work in their existing one, you want to focus on the new model’s comfort and climate control, not its fuel economy. You need to center your pitch on them and solving their problems.

Build Appointment Value

When it comes to sales getting the appointment is only the first part. Remember, your job is to get an appointment; it’s not to sell something. We set appointments, we don’t close deals. This means you need to demonstrate that the appointment itself has value to the prospective customer.

Again, your goal isn’t to sell the product, so focus on the benefits of the conversation. To take it back to the car example from earlier, you can offer to help them identify how the benefits of different makes and models will apply in their given situation–rather than trying to point them at a specific car.

Always Be Closing

Every call has a natural lifespan, and understanding this is very important to understand how to set appointments over the phone. You don’t want to waste anyone’s time, and this means you shouldn’t let the call go on too long. Instead, you should listen respectfully to ensure they have no specific concerns to address and then move to close the call.

After the Call

Just as the call doesn’t start when you pick up the phone, anyone who knows how to set sales appointments on the phone also knows it doesn’t end when you put it down. There are a lot of things you need to do before you can consider the call to be completely over. Following up with the following actions will help you get the most benefit from any call whether you get an appointment or not.

Be Persistent, Polite, and Patient

You won’t always manage to talk to your prospect on the first call, so it’s important to learn the value of persistence when learning how to set an appointment through phone calls. Accept that you may have to leave two or three voicemails before you can talk to a person and don’t let this part of setting appointments over the phone discourage you.

Confirm Appointments

Once you have got an appointment set, you want to send an email confirmation to the prospect. Not only is this good manners, but it also helps solidify the appointment because now they have a written record of the time and date they can refer to.

Record Your Notes

With the appointment set, it’s time to write down everything you discussed with the client. Proper note-keeping is vital to closing the appointment, especially if someone else will be the one keeping it. Do not hobble them by holding back any information they might possibly be able to use to close a deal.

Listen to Call Recordings

If you are in a state which allows call recordings, you should take the time to listen to all your calls after making them. By listening to the call, you can not only double-check your notes, but you can also see what you did right and potentially where you went wrong.

It’s the best way to get better. Only when you have completed all these steps will you be finished with the call.

For more information on setting appointments over the phone, contact SalesRoads today.