When setting appointments over the phone, you can improve your results by staying laser-focused on the right goal. The reason we are putting this step out there is that at any point in a sales cycle, you will likely have two goals:

  • Ultimate Goal: Close the sale, sell the product, get a new client
  • Immediate Goal: Advance the prospect to the next stage in your sales process (schedule the appointment)

If you are like the majority of other salespeople, you spend most of the day thinking about the ultimate goal and how you are going to sell more and get new clients.

There is nothing wrong with always thinking about this goal. The problem that comes into play is that we forget to focus on the immediate goal of moving the prospect to the next step and staying focused on this immediate goal is helpful when setting appointments over the phone.

Here are some reasons why this is going to improve your sales efforts:

B2B cold calls will not be long enough to really sell your product.
When you are setting appointments over the phone, you really only have between 2 to 5 minutes to work with on each call. This is simply not enough time for you to work with to fully sell your product or service in most cases.

There will be times when your call will go beyond 5 minutes and this may mean that you have progressed beyond the cold call stage of the sales process and have progressed into the meeting stage. In this case, what you have done is create an “instant meeting” which is what we call an appointment that happens at the same time as the cold call.

While it might seem positive to have a cold call that keeps going with questions or good discussion, there is actually some downside to this. The main issue is that you might get more time and attention with the prospect if you prevented the instant meeting and scheduled an appointment as this will typically involve putting some amount of time on the prospect’s calendar. Not only will this block of time usually be longer than an instant meeting, but you may have more attention and focus from the prospect.

Notice how I mentioned “prevent the instant meeting” just now. There is actually something very important in the “prevent” step here that will help you with setting more appointments.

When you are setting appointments over the phone and have a cold call that rolls into an instant meeting, there is usually some sort of discussion or line of questions that makes this transition happen. For example, the prospect hears part of your pitch and asks you a good question. You get excited by the question and then give a thorough explanation. The next thing you know is that you have been talking for 10 minutes. Guess what—you have ended up in an instant meeting.

The problem with that path is that you missed a great opportunity to go for the appointment and fulfill your immediate goal of setting appointments over the phone. The opportunity missed is when the prospect asked a good question, and you answered it. Here is something that you could say instead:

That is actually a really good question. The answer to that might take a bit to explain. Since I have called you out of the blue here, why don’t we schedule some time where we can go into more detail with what you asked about and then ?we can address any of your other questions. Are you available for a 20-minute conversation next Tuesday morning or Thursday afternoon?

What can help you with this piece is being aware of where you are in terms of early sales process stages when setting appointments over the phone. Maintain an awareness that the cold call stage is only 2 to 5 minutes, and that is only enough time for you to ask a couple of questions. As soon as the prospect begins to ask you questions back, you should stay aware that answering the questions is going to take you beyond the scope of the cold call, and this can be your cue to slow the conversation down and try to schedule an appointment.

Another reason to pump the brakes here is that there is some level of curiosity on the prospect’s side if they are asking you a question. Try to leverage this as much as you can to get the prospect to agree to meet. Don’t satisfy their desire for information by giving them an answer right then.

Focusing on the Meeting Makes Many Objections Invalid
When you really maintain a laser focus on the immediate goal of trying to establish a conversation (get the appointment), it can create a frame where many of the prospect’s objections become invalid.

For example, prospects can often use some of these objections to try to get rid of you:

We are not interested.

We don’t have budget.

We already use someone.

We are not looking at making any changes.

If you associate those objections with our ultimate goal of trying to sell something, they make a fairly good case for why we should not keep moving forward. But they become invalid from the standpoint of not even really making sense when you apply them to the immediate goal of having a conversation.

The fact that the prospect does not have budget is a reason not to purchase, but it is not a reason to not meet when you are setting appointments over the phone. The fact that they already use someone today is a reason to not purchase (or could be), but it is not a reason to not meet or have a conversation.

This is just one step in our process for this sales activity, and you can view the entire process in our ebook on setting appointments over the phone.