"An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field."

~ Physicist Niels Bohr, quoted in the Harvard Business Review ~

5 Rules For Telephone Appointment Making

How to become more successful at achieving telesales appointments...

This is not a hard article for me to write because it's my strongly held view that company owners have to be the sales leader and that means training yourself up. Being a sales leader means having really done the job yourself so that's the basic training.

The rules that follow are not exclusive. There will be others more specific to what you are doing. But in general terms, if you follow the guidelines given below, you will almost instantly become more successful at making appointments over the phone for visits to potential customers. The rules are given in no particular order, since all of them are equally important.

1st rule: Don't try too hard! It's essential to relax into appointment making. There should be no hustling and generally no sense of urgency. In particular there should be no fear in your voice. If you are under pressure from your own boss when making these calls, fear in your voice will transmit to the client and they will back off. However, the bottom line is that you don't actually need every call to turn into an appointment. You are working on a percentage basis, so you only need a certain percentage of your calls to be successful for you yourself to be seen as successful. You need to come across as if you are offering something positive by merely suggesting an appointment. Never sound desperate. Instead remain cool and relaxed. In this way you will set meetings that stick.

2nd rule: ‘Others love it…’ - whatever 'it' may be. Make comparisons with those who have already tried your company's product or service; i.e. people who have agreed to an appointment and have really benefited from subsequently talking face-to-face to someone from your company. This is the most powerful, non-tangible way of convincing people to make a commitment. If they feel others have walked the same path, it makes them feel so much more secure about agreeing to such a course of action for themselves and to feeling comfortable and at ease about it.

3rd rule: Disqualify time-wasters. This is a tricky one, as it is sometimes hard to determine who is ultimately likely to waste your company's time. Listen for clues. These will reside in people who reveal a) that they have no money; b) that they are not the ultimate decision- maker; c) that they genuinely have no need for the product or service but just seem to like meeting people - and so on. Don't make unsubstantiated appointments. Make sure the meetings set rest on very solid foundations If you don’t, they are likely to lead to nothing, will earn you a bad reputation and will also end up wasting the time of another member of your company, which is unlikely to make you popular amongst your colleagues.

4th rule: If you have someone who seems a genuinely hot prospect, then the suggestion ‘why would you not want to see me’ tends to work very well, providing it’s delivered circumspectly. Without being too obvious, you can easily make the prospect feel that you and your company are actually doing them a favour by offering to come and see them. Whilst it takes plenty of determination and practice to make it work well, this can become a top technique in your repertoire.

5th rule: Your goal should be to help others rather than yourself. Whatever call you make, try to see the conversation from the potential client's point of view as opposed to a means of you personally hitting targets. The former works perfectly in every situation whilst the latter tends to be a failure in waiting. Put yourself in your client's shoes as quickly as you can as the conversation progresses. The emphasis in good appointment-making should be on conversation and dialogue, not simply a relentless pitch aimed at optimum results for yourself.

The above ideas may appear obvious in theory but are considerably harder to put into everyday practice. Start by making your primary aim not to convert every single call into an appointment. As I’ve said, you only ever need to achieve a certain percentage of success from a series of calls. So never focus on a single call being a boom-or-bust situation - because it rarely will be. And reacting as if it is - slamming the phone down after an unsuccessful attempt, for example - is the quickest way to burn yourself out in this line of work.

Following the above five rules will deliver tangible results. Do not allow yourself to be carried away, though. Stay calm and persuasive at all times. It's very easy for initial success to make one over-confident, so rein yourself in. Remain calm and quietly persuasive at all times. And keep my list close at hand for several months until the correct process is fully ingrained in your daily performance.

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