Most business people would agree that the wheels of industry turn best when we talk to each other face to face. Clearly there’s many other approaches we can take when closing the deal or securing a piece of business; such as the telephone, Skype, emails and websites but there really is no substitute for looking into the whites of someone’s eyes and really selling your proposition to the person directly.
In order to do this, we need to secure the appointment with that person in the first instance. We can do this ourselves or have someone in our team whose job it is to do this for us. In a recent sales meeting with a client, the question was asked about the right way of getting new appointments as some of the new starters were finding difficulty in getting through. This prompted a healthy debate on various methodologies. What came from that conversation was some really useful tips and great examples of best practice when making appointments. As well the pitfalls that many of us have probably fallen foul of over the years.
One of the people in the group shared with us the she had learned very early in her sales career not to get too uptight when on the phone call making new appointments for her field sales executive. She explained that sounding desperate was the worst thing ever. She told a story of how she was once canvassed herself by someone selling kitchens and the person on the phone came across as though they wouldn’t eat this week if she didn’t agree to this appointment. As a telephone canvasser herself it gave her a real insight as to how easy it is to sound desperate on the phone and she has remembered it ever since becoming very self-aware not to do the same thing.
Whilst it is important to have a credible sales story, it is also important to remember that your job is to get the person who is the sales expert through the door. So, building a level of expectation about what your company can do and reassuring your prospect that you are a credible organisation to deal with is your main goal. Far better to do this than put yourself in a position where you are now embroiled in a full-on sales pitch; leave that to the person whose job that is.
One person in the group explained that he found the hardest thing was to overcome objections when trying to make an appointment and especially those that appeared to have no answer to them, such as, “We have just bought a machine that can do that” or “We have no budget right now”. A colleague offered this up for him. He said, before I pick up the phone, I try to imagine every possible objection I could come up with if I was calling myself. In other words, he puts himself in his buyer’s shoes. He said, that this helped him to answer those objections competently without hesitation because he had already thought them through (well as many as he could think of). They all liked the sound of this. We are always going to get objections so prepare for them as best as you can.
The good news was that everyone in the group had a story to tell because they have all been the victim of other people doing the very job that they do themselves at one time or another. This was a great learning point as it allowed them to share what worked and what didn’t with their own experiences. One person explained how they found it really annoying when the person on the phone just fired off question after question, almost like shining a lamp in your face. We all agreed that if you can make the call more conversational rather than an inquisition then people tended to respond better.
Everyone concurred that they wanted the person on the other end of the phone not to feel any pressure from them and if they agreed to a meeting then it was better that they feel it was their choice and not that they had been coerced into it. Therefore, polite and courteous were two words that cropped up a great deal in our conversation. These are simple pre-requisites of any phone call and are ignored at your peril.
Being respectful of someone’s time was also mentioned. One lady relayed how a person selling windows canvassed her and although she was actually open to a call about this, she said that she was happy to take the call but not right now as she was in the middle of something. The person on the phone just carried on and despite telling her again this was not a good time, she continued to ignore it. The obvious outcome resulted; she put the phone down on her and that person lost a potential sale. If only, she had listened and called back later.
The one thing that everyone agreed on was that they all tried hard not to see themselves as salespeople. This might sound odd but in fact it has great merit. They felt that they are facilitators and helpers rather than salespeople. They wanted their prospect to come away from the phone call with them believing that they are making an error by not talking to them as they are going to miss out on a great opportunity. Putting someone else in the position where they ‘want’ to buy from you prevents you from ever having to ‘sell’ anything at all.
Pointing out assertively, but not forcefully, the benefits of meeting an expert from your organisation, as well highlighting the advantages to them or their business, was agreed by all as an excellent approach and one that they all tried to adopt. This is quite a skill and those that had evolved their way of calling had reported increases in success of getting those face to face appointments.
Most of us like to know that when we have made a big decision that we are in good company, so pointing out that you have other really important customers and clients who have benefitted from meeting with your organisation will help to increase your credentials and better insure your path to a ‘yes’ when searching for a suitable diary date.
Finally, I had my own story to relay back to the group. In a previous job I was called buy a telephone canvasser trying to get me to agree to an appointment with her field sales executive. I just wasn’t in any position to meet with him and despite my assertion that the timing was all wrong, her comeback was. “Well you should meet with his because he’s a really nice bloke”. Now I’m all for meeting with nice people but I’m sure that line wasn’t going to cut it as a business proposition, plus, it is contrary to all that we discussed above.
At Maguire Training, not only do we offer classroom-based courses and programmes, but we are also proud to offer a versatile and intuitive suite of over a hundred e-learning modules on our website, which covers a range of sales and customer service topics. Have a look at the on-line module ‘making Sales Appointments’, which would be a perfect complement to the classroom-based performance management courses we offer.
If you need further information then you could always call us of course on 0333 5777 144 for a no obligation discussion about your training requirements. Alternatively, simply hit the ‘Contact Us’ on any page of our website at www.maguiretraining.co.uk and we’ll get right back to you.