How to Get Appointments Via Phone Calls: Five Tips for Sales Success

Most sales people dread making the number of calls necessary for sales success. Is it because the sales representatives do not know their product or service well enough? Do they have a fear of the unknown? It may very well be one of those reasons. However, the fear typically comes down to a lack of preparation before making the first sales call.

Here are five easy tips that will help in planning a sales call strategy in advance of dialing the phone. Using these can assure success in getting to the next step in the sales process, which is an appointment.

1. Practice what will be said to a prospect before calling. Do not let it sound like there is a lack of organization or that standard script is being read to them. It is okay to have reference notes as long as the sales representative does not sound like they are reading a script word-for-word. If done well, practicing will generate great conversations or voice mails that get call backs.

2. Be interesting! How? Quickly and efficiently, state the purpose of the call. This can be as simple as two or three benefits or a few statements of value for the product or service offering. The best way to communicate is by giving the prospect just enough information to compel them to ask for more information. If sales representatives randomly talk and just throw information at the prospect then they are more likely to reject the idea of a meeting.

3. Be easy to listen to. Use polite words such as “may I”, “please” and “thank you.” Use the name the prospect likes to be called by. Speak louder as it conveys authority. It is okay to talk a little faster as there is no body language interference. Be sure the words come out very clear. Also use “hello” instead of “hi.” If leaving a phone number on a voicemail, be sure to repeat it two times and slow down so the listener has time to write the number down without missing digits.

4. Use an alternate choice close when setting appointments by phone. Give the prospect an alternate choice when setting a meeting. For example, a good message might be “I know you are busy, so in your line of work are mornings or afternoons better for you?” The prospect will respond with a timeframe rather than saying “I don’t have time.” Use the alternate choice method again before hanging up by offering a choice between two dates and times for the meeting.

5. Make the gatekeeper an ally. If the initial contact is the gatekeeper and not the decision maker, it is vital to make them an ally. Gatekeepers are more inclined to make certain that the decision maker receives a phone message if they are treated with respect and not as a stepping stone. With a little imagination, create a compelling approach so that the gatekeeper will not only find interest, but that they will want to pass along the message. Obtain the gatekeeper’s name and when calling back again, ask for them. Build that relationship and watch how sales can soar.

Using the above tips, should produce more qualified appointments. An additional benefit is sales representatives may have more fun prospecting than they could ever imagine.

Overall, successful calls are made by seeking out the right prospect, expressing a sales advantage through the purpose of the call, and by creating a need for the prospect. If sales representatives can manage to accomplish this in a short phone call, then they can prepare for the next step in sealing the deal with an appointment.

Fear – The No. 1 Emotion That Stops Sales Success

Sales managers have a number of roles to fulfill. One is sales coaching, which kind of like playing sales doctor, trying to properly diagnose the root cause for poor sales performance. There are a number of places to examine during coaching sessions, but one often-overlooked area is understanding how the emotion of fear affects the salesperson’s actions or inactions.

  • Fear of failure inhibits the application of logical selling behaviors that ensure success. You’ve told your sales team the value of calling on the C-suite. However, they can be fearful of calling on big titles, big offices and being presented with big questions.
  • Fear of looking stupid. You’ve taught your team proven selling tactic works; however, salespeople fear looking stupid because they haven’t mastered the new skills.
  • Fear of not having what it takes. The salesperson did call on the C-Suite and it was a disaster. I tried this before and it didn’t work.

Fear is not a logical emotion and it evolves from two areas of thinking: 1. Perception — making up stories about a selling situation that’s never happened. But the salesperson tells himself the story for so long that the fictional story becomes the truth. 2. Fear from a past experience. The salesperson rehearses that failed sales call in her head over and over, which creates resistance to taking action.

Sales managers, time to apply the EQ skill of self-awareness. Recognize when to teach and coach consultative selling skills, and when to change course and coach salespeople through the emotion of fear.

In many coaching scenarios, it time to quit telling salespeople how to sell and address the root cause for poor selling behaviors: Fear. Change the questions you ask and you will change the answers you hear which will help you and the salesperson work on the right end of the selling challenge.

  • What’s your biggest worry about calling at this level of the organization?
  • What your biggest fear in executing this sales strategy?
  • Are your concerns based on perception or a past experience?
  • What lessons did you learn from the last deal you lost? How will you apply the lessons learned to set yourself up for success on the next call?
  • Are you smarter because of the failure? What will you change up?
  • What’s the worse thing that can happen if you don’t know the answer to a question?

Sales managers are sales doctors. Get good at diagnosing the right end of the problem. Change the questions you ask and work on the right end of the sales performance challenge.

Increase Sales – The 3 S’s of Sales Success

How many times have you caught yourself making things more complicated than necessary? How many times have you caused yourself headaches because you made things harder than they are? How often do you step back and review where you are, where you’re headed, and how you’ll get there? Perhaps today is just as good a day as any to step back.

It’s so easy to get caught up in all your to do’s. It’s so easy to keep your focus on the next thing rather than the most important thing. The hard thing to do is to step back and take a hard look at just exactly what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and the results those actions produce.

When it comes down to it you can sum up your sales success in 3 S’s. If you do just these 3 things correctly you’ll enjoy sales success:

  • Solve problems
  • Sell solutions
  • Serve clients

How would potential buyers know you do these things? Would your current buyers say you do these things? In either case, how do you know?

What are your current sales results?

How many clients do you have?

How many future clients are advancing in your sales process?

How many potential clients are in your marketing funnel?

If you’ve answered these questions with actual numbers, as you should have, then you also have a good idea what those numbers should be in your opinion. The two numbers aren’t the same, are they? If they are, then perhaps it’s time to stretch and achieve greater results.

Do you know why so many people struggle to sell? It isn’t because they can’t close the deal. It isn’t because they don’t work hard enough.

Most people struggle to sell because they can’t tell people in an easily understandable desirable way what problems they solve or the solutions they sell.

How will you close the gap between the results you have now and the ones you want? What actions must you take? When will you take those actions?

Three rabbits prepare to run a race. Travis researches running shoes and running techniques. He tries different shoes and different techniques never sticking with just one always switching on and off. Tim researches everything he’ll need to run the race. He talks to other racers asking them how they’d approach the race. Todd just runs every day.

Race day Todd gets in position to run, Travis keeps changing his shoes, and Tim keeps asking others for ideas. When the gun goes off Todd leaps from the starting block sees nothing but the finish line and runs with all he’s got. Travis tries changing his running techniques as he watches the back of Todd’s head. Tim doesn’t leave the starting block because he can’t decide what to do.

Todd easily wins the race because Todd was the only runner who focused on taking action. Todd knew if he just picked one foot up and put another down he’d finish the race. What he didn’t realize was focused action concentrated on right action will always win the race.