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The Do’s & Don'ts of Over-The-Phone Appointment Setting

Elizabeth Hamer | 11 December 2017

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Appointment setting has never been easy, but now, your prospects and the way they behave makes securing those all important first meetings even more of a challenge. The reality is that if you are in B2B, you have to up your game if you want to grow your business. To help you do this, we have provided five top tips to ensure that your appointment setting efforts enjoy the greatest success possible.  

 Use reliable, relevant data

If your contact list has not been compiled specifically for your campaign, you’ll waste a lot of time and energy calling people who don’t have a need for your product or service. These people have no chance of becoming customers, and by calling them, you only waste time that could be spent chasing up more promising leads. And that’s only one of two problems created by poor quality data. Data degenerates by as much as 30% a year, and if you use old, outdated data, you won’t even reach most of your contacts. Before you engage in an appointment setting campaign, you need to ensure that you are working with accurate data on prospects who might actually become customers.

Be personable and respectful

Of all the mistakes you could make, displeasing the gatekeeper would be the worst. The administration staff who take your calls are generally very busy people. They often have to handle hundreds of calls a day, many of them from salespeople who are trying to reach a decision maker. Their jobs are made more difficult by having to sort those who their bosses might want to see from those they don’t want to see. You need to make gatekeepers’ jobs a little easier by treating them with respect and proving that you are capable of the kind of etiquette their equally busy higher-ups would appreciate. Start by asking if they have time to talk or if it would be better to call back at a more convenient time.

Do not sell your product or service to the gatekeeper

As obvious as this point may seem to some, many salespeople still try to sell their product or service to a gatekeeper. The people who pick up the other end of the phone usually don’t have the power to make purchase decisions, and they’re not interested in the details of your product. What they will be interested to know is that you can help their decision makers overcome certain problems. You need to emphasise how you can help them with those challenges. This means listening carefully to what they have to say and adapting your approach accordingly. If you’ve been using a script, you can scrunch it up and toss it in the bin.

Learn all you can about your prospects

Appointment setting calls that are initiated only to secure a meeting miss much of the point of telemarketing. An appointment is not an end in itself. Your end goal is a sale, and the best way to ensure a win is to go into a meeting as well-prepared as possible. These calls are a great opportunity to gather the kind of information that makes such planning possible. Don’t go into a call as if it is an interrogation, but, rather listen for any cues that would suggest that the other person would be receptive to a question. Like the other soft skills described above, knowing what, when, and how to ask is a skill that has to be honed over time.  

Give your prospects choices

Lastly, give the people handling your calls a choice of alternatives, but never those that involve a yes or no answer. The answer should always be implicitly yes, and the only question should be one of time: “Are Tuesdays or Thursdays better for you?” With these kinds of choices, people still retain a degree of control, but the conversation is a lot more likely to go the way you want it to.

Of course, there is a lot more to appointment setting and B2B telemarketing than can be squeezed into a six hundred word blog. And that’s why I have included a link to our B2B Telemarketing Guide. In this useful resource, you’ll find six chapters explaining how expert, unscripted telemarketing can grow your business. To read on, download the guide right here.

 

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