17. 09. 2020.
What is the most important metric that you could be tracking in sales to know that you’re on track to hit your sales goals? Most people think that the most important thing’s to track sales numbers, and that’s actually not true, in fact, it couldn’t be further from the truth.
The most important metric that we have found to be tracking is the number of appointments/discovery meetings you’re setting with prospects. Your ability to set the appointment is going to be critical to your success in sales.
If you set enough appointments with solid prospects, you will hit your sales numbers, period.
Now, there are a lot of things you could be doing in those meetings to make your sales calls more productive, but if you are simply focused on setting enough appointments, you will be successful.
Many people struggle to convert a conversation with a good prospect into a scheduled appointment, and this isn’t one of those ‘it-would-be-nice-to-have’ skills, this is critical.
Don’t set an appointment with ANYONE
The goal isn’t to set an appointment with anyone who has a pulse, the goal is to set an appointment with the right person, the key decision-maker, the qualified person who has cashflow, or budget access.
Disqualify the rabble during discovery
So many times we get excited to just have a person who’s willing to sit down and talk to us, and the key thing is we can’t always know if someone is going to be fully qualified just through a phone call. What we want to do is get some insight even throughout the introduction call to determine if that person really is the person we should be speaking with.
We can do that by asking them some questions that are going to help us understand whether we’re just wasting our time or not. There are 2 ways we can look at this. One way is through their title, previous positions, or something like that, but the other way is by the types of answers they’re giving us.
It all comes down to understanding really on in the sales process is this person likely to be qualified, and thus we should or shouldn’t set a meeting. Disqualify the rabble, and spend the majority of your time talking to the right people.
Be a Doctor
What so often happens from the perspective of the prospect is that they’re meeting with a salesperson, and they’re immediately feeling that the person in front of them would do or say anything just to get the sale.
We want to have our prospects have the complete opposite feeling, and the way we do that is behaving like a doctor.
If you go to an orthopedic surgeon and say: ‘Hey doc, my back really hurts’, the doctor won’t respond with something like: ‘Well, you’ve come to the right place, we have this new procedure called XY surgery that’ll have you walking within a week, it’s unbelievable. Here’s the contract if you’re ready to do it.’
That’s not how a doctor behaves, but this is exactly how so many salespeople out there do.
What you really want to do is diagnose the challenges they’re facing. So If a prospect says: ‘Yeah, we’re having some issues with our marketing’, instead of saying: ‘Well, we can solve that’, ask them to tell you a little bit more, dig deeper, get them engaged.
Understand the upside
One of the keys to getting an appointment with a prospect is that they have to feel like there’s going to be a value in meeting with you. During those initial sales calls, we need to help them see the value of potential working with us.
The key way to do this is to help them understand the upside. The common mistake here is starting the conversation about some kind of ROI they’ll get by working with us. What’s more important is to actually get the prospect to tell you the upside of fixing a particular problem.
Let’s say you’re talking to a company CEO and he’s saying:
‘You know, I kinda feel like our sales team isn’t exactly firing on all cylinders.’
By asking him: ‘Well Mike, if you could get your sales team to fire on all cylinders as you’ve mentioned, what do you think that would mean in the terms of additional revenue?’
So he responds: ‘I think we could easily do an additional $5mill in sales.’
Do you see what just happened there? You asked a pretty benign question, and you got the prospect to actually start doing their own math, and talk about the value that your solution could potentially bring to them.
Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll increase their revenue by $5mill if they hire you, but it’ll get them to thinking and eventually realizing that there’s an issue needing to be resolved, and you’re the person that might do it. That’s an upside value of working with you.
Can I make a recommendation?
These 5 simple words are so powerful when it comes to transitioning into scheduling that appointment. Let’s say you’ve done all the previous things, you determined the person is definitely someone you want to set up a meeting and you’ve made them realize the upside value, it is at this point you ask a question – ‘Can I make a recommendation?’
What’s that going to do is naturally cause them to say: ‘Yeah, of course, go ahead’, and at the same time it’s setting you up as the expert.
After that, you’d say something along the lines of: ‘Why don’t we schedule an appointment, and we can dig into some of these issues much more deeply, we could share with you some best practices on how we might go about solving those challenges. Does that make sense?’
You’ll have to agree with me that this sounds much better than those cheesy, salesy lines: ‘Hey Mike, I’ll be in your area on Monday through Wednesday, let’s get together for 10 minutes, I want to show you some ideas.’ Drop this crap, everyone’s doing it. Instead, lead with: ‘Can I make a recommendation?’.
Always schedule a clear next step
Never allow any selling situation to end with an unclear outcome. What’s amazing is that salespeople are doing this all the time.
When you’re on the call that’s ending with prospect saying something like: ‘Hey, why don’t you give us a call in about month?’, make sure that there’s always a clear next step with an accepted calendar invite that goes out after the call.
So when you get that ‘ring us in a month’ question/feedback, respond with this: ‘Yeah, sure Mike. Actually do you have your calendar in front of you where we can actually schedule something so it doesn’t fall off the radar?’
If they say no, at least you know that they were just being nice during the call, and they’re not even remotely interested in what you’re selling.
Have a contingency for pushback
When you receive feedback in the lines of: ‘Hey that was a great call, but the timing is just off, can we speak again within 6 months or so?’, never say: ‘Yeah, that sounds great. I’ll reach out again in 6 months.’ – that’s weak, always have a contingency for pushback situations.
Instead, try saying: ‘You know what Mike, I really appreciate you saying that, but I’ve been doing this for a long time, and usually that’s just a nice way of you saying that you’re not really interested in meeting each other. Is that what’s happening here?’
Now it takes guts to give this kind of response back, but it’ll sure give you closure. They’ll either confirm your suspicions, and you can put it to bed, but if they actually want to meet, but it’s true that they’re busy right now, you can proceed into scheduling that next step, and putting it into the calendar.
If you enjoyed this post, I’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook. Thank you!
Co-Founder and Managing Partner
Marko has over 5 years of experience in lead generation and appointment setting across multiple industries, currently acting as a managing partner in a business development agency SkyBox.
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