When you are calling prospects to set appointments, one thing that can make your cold calls go better is to start out by confirming that the prospect is available for your call.

This is important because you are calling someone to set appointments, and your call is technically uninvited, so you need to be completely respectful of the prospect’s time.

Consider a scenario where you go talk to a coworker in the office without having a meeting on the schedule. When you get to the coworker’s office, you notice that they are busy working on something. Would you just sit down, interrupt what they are doing, and start talking about what is on your mind?

Maybe you would, but one way to approach them is to check to see if they are busy at a level where it would make them a little annoyed and challenged if you were to talk to them and take them away from what they are doing.

To do this in a tactful way, you may ask:

Are you in the middle of anything?

Notice that we don’t ask if they are busy, because we know they are. We don’t ask them if they have a minute because we want more than a minute. What we want to know is if they are busy to a degree where they can’t stop to talk with us, and this is a great question to get right to that piece of information.

Similar to when you set appointments, without checking in, we have no idea what the coworker is working on and what is going on in their head at that particular moment. They might be right in the middle of something that is very important, and they are completely unavailable to talk with you.

Not only is this a more polite way to communicate with someone, but it is also very powerful in that it accomplishes a lot of different things:

  • You will be proceeding with permission
  • You will know that you are not interrupting anything
  • You have just bought yourself a window of time to work with
  • You have shown the coworker that you respect their time
  • You will add to the level of rapport that you have with the coworker
  • You minimize the possibility of a disruption

Applying to When You Set Appointments
If you agree that what we outlined is the best way to handle trying to grab some time with a co-worker, then apply that same logic and process when cold calling to set appointments by starting out your call with:

Hi [Prospect Name], this is [Your Name] with [Your Company]. Have I caught you in the middle of anything?

With that one question, you have just very quickly:

  • Bought yourself a window of time to work with (2 to 5 minutes)
  • Identified that it is a decent time to try to make your pitch and attempt
  • Added to the level of rapport that you have with the prospect

Another reason to approach your prospects in this way is that, if the prospect answers the phone but is extremely distracted and is unavailable, it might not be the right time for you to attempt to go through your pitch anyway.

Sure, you might be able to push the call forward for a shorter time if you catch a prospect at a horrible time and don’t give them a chance to say anything about that. But the odds of you pushing your way forward and getting enough attention from an unavailable prospect to adequately deliver your pitch and successfully close for the appointment are fairly low.

You might be better off letting them get back to what you are taking them from and trying to give your pitch a shot at another time, especially if you can identify the best time to call them back.

This is one step in our sales methodology, and we have outlined in our ebook on how to set appointments.