What is appointment setting & why is it important?
For those that are new to marketing, or the business world in general, appointment setting is the act of contacting a lead, typically over the phone, with the aim of setting up an appointment in which you can discuss their needs and your offerings in a more detailed manner. These appointments can be face-to-face appointments, scheduled calls, video conferences and more. Sales are almost never made on the first outbound interaction and that’s why appointments are a vital part of a business’ sales process, they give you the chance to get to know your prospect on a more personal level and help you to close the sale. Appointment setting is a challenging task and can be approached from many different angles. Some people go for the hard sell approach which can work well for certain business and audiences but can sometimes be badly received. Others opt for the more relaxed approach that involves building a relationship or rapport with their prospects. The best approach for appointment setting success is the one you build yourself. Everyone is different and one pitch that works wonders for one telemarketer, may not work at all for another. Collating the best aspects from a range of approaches, such as the confidence of the hard sell approach and the consideration from the rapport building approach, is an effective way to build a pitch that is tailored to you and can help you land appointments in no time.
#1 - Formulate a plan
If you are going to be making a lot of outbound calls when appointment setting, the chances are you will be using the same, if not a similar pitch for a lot of the calls. One of the first steps you need to take when beginning your appointment setting activities is to formulate an action plan.
In this plan you should incorporate who you are aiming to reach, some of the key pieces of information you want to give to the prospect, how you will deliver the information, what the outcome of the call should be and how to deal with some of the anticipated objections.
By doing this, you are able to prepare yourself for the calls and get yourself into the right mindset. If you haven’t taken the time to get a plan together, when you jump into the first call you will likely struggle to get your main points across and start to use a lot of filler words such as ‘umm’ and ‘like’ unless you are an expert at improvising.
Another advantage of having a plan is confidence. If you are going into a call with your pitch all worked out and a list of possible objections with the suitable rebuttals, you are pretty much ready for anything that the prospect can throw at you. Exerting this confidence throughout the call can help make a good first impression too.
#2 - Exert Confidence
I started to mention confidence in tip #1, but it’s so important, it needs its own section. If you are making calls and you are sounding unsure or flat when speaking, that’s something that the prospect is going to notice. By making yourself sound more confident, you will come across as more relaxed and natural in your approach. Even if you aren’t particularly confident with the subject, as long as you have a plan in front of you and you are ensuring that you sound confident you should be just fine. Avoiding negative phrases and questions is also key. If you start asking questions that cause doubt or offers your prospect the chance to an objection that can’t be countered, you’ve missed an opportunity. Questions such as ‘How does that sound?’ or ‘What do you think?’ are good examples of questions that can plant doubt in your prospect’s mind.
#3 - Control Your Volume
Volume is another very important factor to consider when making calls to prospective customers. If the person on the other end of the phone is rather quiet when speaking, talking loudly down the phone can be another way of destroying rapport. As with matching their tone, matching their volume or being at a similar volume is another way to communicate on the same level and build a relationship with your prospects.
It’s not just your volume that you need to be aware of, it’s also environmental noise. If you are in a busy call centre or office and you don’t have the necessary measures such as soundproofing dividers or a quality handset or headset that blocks background noise, the prospect will be able to hear everything that goes on around you.
Think back to a time when you’ve received a sales call. Was the caller hard to understand because they were talking too loud or too quietly? Could you hear a lot of background noise from other telemarketers on the phone? What impression of the company did this give you?
#4 - Be Sure To Understanding Your Prospective Client’s Pain Points
Before making a call make sure you have an understanding of the person on the other end of the phone. I’m not saying do a full background check on the prospect but taking a look at their business and what it is they specialise in, will give you a good insight on the challenges that they are likely to face, and you can work this into your pitch.
By broaching some of the prospect’s ‘pain points’ during a call you are demonstrating that you have a good level of understanding of their business and their market. If you can remediate these problems with the product or services you are offering, this a great hook that you can use to land an appointment.
#5 - Mirror Your Prospect
Mirroring your prospect in terms of tone and vocabulary is a great way to build rapport. When I say mirror, I don’t mean copy everything they say, but if after a few phone calls with them, you notice a few words or phrases that they use rather frequently, try using them from time to time. This will give the impression that you are like-minded and can help the prospect feel more relaxed.
Tone is also something to listen out for. If the person you are calling sounds happy and upbeat, using a slow and low tone will do nothing but destroy your chances of building rapport. By matching their tone of being happy and upbeat, you are again showing that you are similar to one another and helps to make the conversation more valuable.
#6 - Staying Focused and Motivated
Appointment setting can be exhausting, especially when you aren’t getting much traction. The best way to maintain or boost your efficiency when things aren’t going your way is to keep yourself motivated. For some, telemarketing is a challenging task and from time to time and can be quite ‘hit or miss’ depending on a range of factors.
You might not be able to get a hold of the contact you are dialling, you might come across a gatekeeper who just won’t budge when it comes to connecting you to your contact, no matter how beneficial your offering may be, you could have the occasional ‘slip-up’ on the phone which knocks your confidence, even the mood that your prospect is in can affect the call. With a range of factors that can negatively affect a call, it can be hard to stay upbeat, but keeping yourself focused is the key.
Keeping a written list of your goals and what you need to do in order to achieve them, is a great way to keep yourself focused and motivated. Offices can be busy places and are full of distractions. Blocking out surrounding noise and drama helps to keep you focused on the task at hand and not what’s happening around you.
To sum up, there are a lot of different approaches that you can take to appointment setting, some are focused more on aggressive selling tactics whereas others focus on building a valuable relationship with prospects. It is important to create a plan for different campaigns and practice what you are going to say before making calls. Showing confidence and keeping the same tone as your prospect helps to build rapport and puts both the prospect and you at ease. Being mindful of the challenges that your prospects face and how it affects their business, helps to demonstrate your understanding of their business and sector. Controlling your volume to match the prospect’s and speaking in a similar manner can help to build rapport and build a positive business relationship. Finally, keeping motivation high is the key to boosting your appointment setting efficiency. Keep your goals in mind, what you need to do in order to achieve them and track your progress towards their achievement.