Breaking into new accounts and setting meetings is one of the most difficult tasks sellers face. But if you want to be successful in sales, you need to be able to build your own pipeline and drum up your own business.
To increase your odds of landing initial meetings, follow these five appointment-setting tips:
- Reach out during "off hours": Business leaders don’t punch in at nine and out at five. The gatekeepers, however, are a different story. If you're trying to get through to an insulated executive, try calling early in the morning (before 8 am), late in the evening (after 6 pm), or during lunch.
One of my colleagues has had great success reconnecting with prospects when he sends emails first thing in the morning (4 am)! This strategy not only ensures he gets his all-important follow up done before the day gets away from him, but also gives the prospect the opportunity to respond that day—and they often do.
- Use multiple media: Appointment setting isn't just about cold calling. It can take more than a dozen touches to get a prospect to respond to you. For appointment-setting success, you must reach out a number of times, using multiple media. Prospects are busier than ever and inundated with marketing and sales messages and meeting requests. You can break through the noise, but it's unlikely you will do so on your first try.
Leave voicemails, send emails, drop a package in the mail, write a hand-written note, mark up an article to send. And if you do get a "no," to your request to set a meeting, read this post to overcome common cold-calling objections.
- Follow marketing's lead: You'll have much greater success setting appointments with prospects who have already interacted with your company's brand in one way or another. Make sure you get the information you need from marketing to follow up on:
- Website downloaders: If you offer intellectual capital such as white papers, webinars, or research on your website, the list of prospects viewing this content is prime for sales follow up.
- Website visitors: There are many technologies out there that will notify you when a prospect is visiting your website. This is especially useful if you’re trying to reconnect with prospects you've already spoken with. It lets you know 1) you're on their mind, and 2) they are likely at their desk or computer right now.
- Event attendees: Make sure you get the full attendee list of any events your company sponsors, or better yet, at events where your company executives speak.
- Leverage referrals: Referrals are gold. When someone refers you, the trust your prospect has for the referrer transfers to you. This gives you a huge advantage as buyers will be more open to speaking with you.
The obvious place to ask for referrals is your network—everyone should do this. A not-so-obvious place is in your prospecting calls themselves. When reaching out to an organization for the first time, it's up to you to navigate the hallways and find the buyers and decision makers within the organization. The best way to do this is to get your foot in the door and ask for an internal referral. The key here is to start high and work your way down. The executive assistant to the president or CEO can provide a wealth of information here and will often point you in the right direction and even provide a referral, but only if you ask.
- Ask for the meeting: This is appointment setting 101, but many sellers forget to do this simple thing. When asking for the meeting, be specific. For example, don't just say, "Would you like to meet about this?" Say, "I have time on August 7th at 10 am. Can you do it then?" Asking to meet at a specific date and time changes the question from, "Do you want to meet?" to, "When do you want to meet?"
Setting appointments with new accounts takes hard work and persistence. You’re going to hear a lot more nos than yeses, but if you follow these tips, you’ll increase your odds of getting through and securing a meeting.
What works for you?
Share your appointment-setting tips in the comments below.