There’s an art and a science to appointment setting that we admit to being somewhat OCD about. B2B lead generation requires obsessiveness. And that’s because it’s difficult.
You have to be obsessive about a range of appointment setting challenges: about the pitch you develop; about quickly engaging your prospect in a spontaneous, comfortable conversation; and about “getting to yes” – that is, closing the deal and scheduling the sales appointment.
There’s an irony here: Good appointment setters sound unrehearsed, yet this requires extensive preparation and practice.
How should a call center services agent prepare for an appointment setting campaign?
Understand the company, the product and the brand you are pitching
Too many B2B lead generation call center services companies launch into cold calling campaigns without developing a firm grasp of what they are cold calling about. They simply hand out a script to their agents and tell them to start “dialing for dollars.” Result: when talking to a prospect the agents sound scripted, which is off-putting and unconvincing. And when the prospect asks basic questions the agent is stumped.
Solution: You and your call center services colleagues much take the time to read about the company and product you’re pitching, talk with your client about the questions they typically receive from prospective customers and how they answer them. And do mock cold calls until your pitch becomes second nature.
Watch Your Language
When cold calling for sales appointments, stay on point. Develop a pitch that quickly gets to the reason for your call – while also being capable of going “off-script” if your prospect wants to take things in an unexpected direction. Speak with confidence and authority. When talking to your lead, avoid questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no; instead, give choices – both of which work to your advantage. Example: when explaining your product, ask if your prospect prefers cost savings or higher productivity. This also applies to setting the appointment. Offer alternative times, days or even weeks when your client is available to present the product. Offering alternatives reduces the chances of your prospect rejecting a sales appointment altogether.
Hit the Ground Running
On the opening moments of the cold call hinges the success or failure of the call. Start the call with a brief introduction of your company, and then quickly move ahead with information that you think would be most valuable and interesting to your contact. A good opener is to tout the cost savings the product or service has saved other companies. Or talk about the productivity or quality enhancements the product has generated. Statements of this type also can be used to convince the contact to agree to an appointment. You can say that the best way to show the prospect how they can save money or boost productivity is by presenting the product in person or via webinar. Nothing beats a sales pitch focused on saving money or higher productivity.
No Means Not Yet
Scheduling a sales appointment usually takes more than one call. Typically, your prospect wants to “think about” taking the next step, or they may want to see if their colleagues share an interest in the product. Don’t get discouraged. Instead, ask your contact when you should call back. This can take another two or three calls, but your stick-to-itiveness will pay dividends. In fact, it’s known that many sales prospects deliberately ask for a second call just to see if you, as a reflection of the company you represent, have the perseverance to make that second call.
Tone and Tenor
One of the sayings we’ve learned from the Sandler Sales Training Institute: “Enthusiasm is contagious. It makes everyone sick.” When cold calling, avoid coming across as too eager-to-please. Be professional, moderately upbeat and, most of all, establish a peer-to-peer relationship. You are neither obsequiously standing in awe before, nor loftily talking down at, your prospect. A peer-to-peer tone will convince the prospect you are someone worth listening to.
Another tip: strange as it may sound, smile while talking on the phone. People can “hear” a smile, it gives everything you say an optimistic, confident vibe. All of us like to be around optimistic, confident people. In fact, we’re far more likely to set a sales appointment with them.
Mark Fichera, CEO
Call Center Services