One of the most valuable resources for any business is undoubtedly the ability to generate sales opportunities through qualified appointment setting. This simply means that a sales representative in an organization has the opportunity to meet with a prospect who has the interest, motivation/need, and resources to invest in a product or service offered by his/her organization. The purpose of this article is to provide a closer look at the core components of successful appointment-setting and give some inside perspective on this important topic.
An appointment can be as simple as a follow up call for an online life insurance inquiry or as complex as face-to-face meeting over a multi-million dollar construction contract. In some way, the company offering the service has to get in contact with leads to determine if they are viable prospects. It is possible to qualify inbound leads through various means, but at some point a call must be made to ensure that the gathered information is correct and that there is real potential for a sale. The focus of this article will be on what is needed to make this call a success and for illustrative purposes, the only information we have to start with is the company name, contact name, address, phone number, and email.
There are four primary functions of an appointment setting call: qualify prospects, generate interest, set the appointment, and set expectations. For the sake of brevity, the first two will be addressed in this article and two more in our next blog. One reason that qualifying prospects has an important role is that companies use valuable resources to move prospects through the sales funnel. It is in their financial interest to limit the time and money used to chase unqualified leads.
Qualifying also shortens the sales cycle and generally improves the lead to close ratio. Qualifying can happen in a variety of formats, but ensures that A) The prospect is a viable customer and B) There is a need for the available product/service. Once these two facts have been established, then the appointment setter (or prospect manager, as we call them) can begin working to generate interest in the specific company or solution being offered.
Once a conversation has been initiated and a prospect has been qualified as having a need and the resources to be a viable customer, then there is the task of generating interest in your specific company or solution. Any sales person will tell you that this is no easy task and involves a bit more than just listing features and benefits.
One key to successful cold calls is good questions. Asking open ended questions about the prospect’s goals, expectations and needs will put you in the position of responding with a solution. This is powerful because it is much harder for someone to turn down a solution to a problem that they just described. This allows you to come across as helpful instead of pushy and generate interest through a clear connection between their problem and your solution.
We will continue next week with some tips on setting “the appointment” and how to set expectations for that appointment. Meanwhile, please feel free to share any insights or tactics you have found helpful in qualifying prospects or generating interest during appointment-setting calls.