Sales Advice for Entrepreneurs

Tips on Setting Appointments

Written by Chukwuma Asala for Gaebler Ventures

Most people in sales know that feeling of picking up the phone and having it weigh 20 pounds. The fear of making calls to book appointments has stopped many a good salesmen from cashing in on a good client. This article will go over the format for making a successful phone call to book an appointment with a prospect.

There are only two real reasons for a general lack of appointments: the fear of the phone and not knowing what to say and how to say it.

Tips on Setting Appointments

Some people are just afraid to pick up the phone to make prospecting calls. These people either never get going at all or only make a few calls. They never generate enough positive activity to succeed.

There are also the fearless ones who can burn through a prospect list in no time. However, they lack basic skills. In the absence of these skills, they can turn a great prospect list into worthless pile of paper and end up discouraged and defeated.

The following appointment setting techniques and principles will give you some great tips for making successful sales calls and booking appointments.

Set the Prospect at Ease

For your prospects to be open to your message, it is essential that they first be set at ease. A statement of familiarity must be made early in the call to capture attention, create interest and raise the level of comfort your prospect has with the calls.

Make sure to state immediately the purpose for the call and the potential benefit of the both of you getting together. People always want to know what is in it for them, and if you can communicate this early on it will increase the length of the conversation by increasing their curiosity.

Take Control

The person asking the questions is always in control of the conversation. You must master the skill of asking questions that people are compelled to answer and get them talking about their needs.

When people hear themselves telling you their likes and dislikes they automatically start to become endeared to you and want to hear more about your product. Be sure to be bold when asking questions and try and show some empathy about what their plight might be. Do not be so quick to move on to the next person on the list because the prospect will feel that.

Enthusiastically Assume the Appointment

Do not ask for an appointment. Asking for it puts the ball in their court. You never want the ball in their court.

Force them to either go through the awkwardness of saying no to sitting down with you or acquiesce to your request because it is obvious to them that you expected them to. Your expectation is the most important thing you bring to the phone call and will set the tone for how the conversation will go.

Expect then Manage Appointment Pushback

You can almost always expect initial resistance to your request for an appointment from both qualified and unqualified prospects.

The key is to properly manage this initial pushback to determine if your prospect's resistance indicates they are really not qualified or if it is just an automatic response from an otherwise qualified prospect. This initial resistance to an appointment is normal, welcomed and easily managed.

Reaffirm After Confirming Date, Time and Location

Always make sure to repeat all the prospect's information back to them. It reminds them of the information themselves as well as emphasizes them that you are putting this information down in writing.

This places more importance on the meeting and helps them understand that this meeting is important to you and more importantly that you will be there. They will show up most times just for that reason.

Chukwuma Asala is an international student from Nigeria who is studying to earn an MBA from the State University of New York in Albany. He has analyzed more than 20 industry case studies throughout his education thus far, and hopes to bring some of his business knowledge to

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Comments? Questions? Suggestions? Share your thoughts on tips on making sales calls and setting up appointments.

  • Colleen posted on 11/2/2010
    I recently began selling insurance with a great company. I know the material inside and out but getting people to set an appointment is brutal. My company even provides a "phone conversation" sheet to help in the areas you mentioned above. However, I still struggle to get appointments. Any advice?
  • Ken Gaebler posted on 11/3/2010
    Ken Gaebler
    Colleen, are any other reps consistently getting appointments? If so, I would recommend listening to them work the phones and then try emulating what is working for them. Remember, the main thing to convey is that you are not selling -- you are solving a problem for the prospect and they need what you have to offer.

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