The overwhelming majority of higher value business-to-business sales are likely to involve some form of face-to-face meeting with a prospective client.
Unfortunately, given that most prospects are time poor and don’t start off with my natural affinity for your business, making a new business appointment with them is easier said than done unless:
- They have been referred by a client or other contact
- They have checked out your website or social media presences satisfied themselves that you should be on their shortlist
- They have done business with you before
Therefore, if the value of sale warrants a meeting, when it comes to b2b appointment setting as part of new business development, you need to find a way to encourage a face-to-face meeting. This will enable you to build rapport and learn more about buyer needs as part of the sales process. It may be that you can sell via web demos or webinars but higher value sales more often than not require more personal interaction.
The problem is that your competitors are also going after the same sales meetings and you need to justify why the prospect should select you and your business and use up their precious time to find out more about you.
I’m often asked how to make more new business appointments. So, with that in mind, below are my 8 Tips for Effective b2b Appointment Setting.
1. Make an Impression
It’s unlikely a prospective client will want to meet with an organization that has given a poor representation on the telephone. Therefore, whoever is on the phone, whether that be from an inbound call or cold calling, needs to be articulate, knowledgeable, and engaging.
2. Don’t Over-Sell
Pushy salespeople rarely get the sale. If you go into overdrive ramming your products and product knowledge down the throat of your prospect, you will turn them off. Remember it isn’t about you or your products. It’s about what you can do for the customer. So ease back on the product pitch and ratchet up your desire to assist them to get the best solution.
3. Build Rapport
People buy people and if there’s no rapport, why would a prospect want to meet with you? The more you can encourage empathy and rapport, the more likely you will reach your goal. That means listening, matching tone, mirroring language, and empathizing through comments, summarising, and appropriate ums and ahs at the right time.
4. Act Like a Consultant, not a Salesman
Salespeople, especially cold callers, are often seen as pariahs or vultures only interested in themselves. You wouldn’t want to go to see a hospital consultant that asks one or two quick questions, takes one look at you, and says ‘well I think what we need to do is whip out your appendix’. You’d be much more reassured if they did a thorough physical examination and followed up by asking lots of questions to get to the heart of the problem before making the diagnosis. It’s the same when it comes to generating more meetings.
5. Don’t Pitch the Meeting too Soon
Have you ever had a sales conversation where the seller suggests a meeting right at the start of the conversation? They seem over-keen and haven’t even considered your needs and whether they genuinely can deliver against your requirements. If you’re making cold calls, you do need to assertively ask for a meeting. But only if you’ve established that the profile of the prospect matches the kind of customer with which you can work. And, only once you’ve established some rapport. Asking too soon demonstrates a lack of engagement. Don’t confuse this with weak telemarketers that chat and never ask for a meeting. It’s about timing and, if you get it right, often the prospect will suggest meeting before you do.
6. Give Good Advice
As I mentioned above, it isn’t about your products and services. It’s about how they benefit the customer. I find the most effective method for appointment setting is to provide opinions and advice based on experience. I use examples and cite past similar client situations. I showcase expertise along the way especially if I have pertinent examples from similar businesses or sectors. This builds rapport, empathy, and confidence and increases the likelihood of the prospect wanting to meet me and put me on their shortlist.
7. Find Appropriate Meeting Triggers
Weak salespeople struggle to ask for the meeting. There’s nothing worse than a weak salesperson with a poor proposition. It’s important to have a good reason to meet. For example, if understanding benefits is easier through a face-to-face demo or product trial, that’s possibly a good reason to meet. Likewise, if the client feels that their product or service needs specific or detailed understanding, that’s a good trigger for suggesting a face-to-face session. It’s pretty unlikely that you’ll secure a meeting if you haven’t got anything compelling, especially where the client already has a supplier of what you’re promoting. However, failure is even more likely if the seller fails to pick up buying triggers and signals and misses the opportunity to suggest the meeting.
8. Confirm the Meeting and Whet the Appetite
Some buyers have second thoughts. Things pop up that means meetings get canceled or rescheduled. However, the seller needs to minimize this eventuality as much as possible. For me, that means following up with an email swiftly after securing the meeting. In the email, I give a summary of the conversation, sometimes attach more info in pdf form and say how much I’m looking forward to seeing them. I also typically send a Gmail or outlook invitation. If they don’t accept within a day or so, I call to verify. I’m not personally a great fan of re-confirming a few days before the proposed meeting date unless the location is far away from my office. My belief is that if you did a good enough job in the original conversation (1) you will have made an impression and (2) this makes a cancellation less likely.
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Already doing telemarketing yourself but not getting the results you need? GSA can also provide telemarketing training for your existing staff, bringing them new skills, telemarketing tips, know-how, or just a different approach. Also, check out our essential guide to telemarketing success.