Thursday, 26 September 2013

Making or Selling appointments and obtaining Interviews

 The challenge of getting in front of the right people at the right time becomes greater and greater.

  Making appointments and obtaining interviews with both new prospects and existing clients has become tougher.

There are three main methods available to you:

 1. Phone

 2.  E mail + outlook link Tutorial

3. "Cold" Calling

Other methods like email, advertisement returns and direct mail can be used either to obtain leads or to prepare the ground for you, but any of these is likely to be supplemented by one of the three main methods.

The basic sequence

This is the same whichever method you are using ( face to face or phoning) and is very similar to the sequence of an actual sales presentation:

Clarify your objective(s): the primary one must be to get to meet the person, but secondary ones could be to obtain information or referrals.

Prepare: remind yourself of the questions/facts/benefits you will use according to how the situation develops, and how you will answer the most likely put-off’s or objections; review the information you already have about the person/organisation; ensure you have your diary and other materials to hand.

Be polite and respectful but sound confident: use your prospect’s name immediately; be sure to get it right; give your first name and surname; never appear apologetic for interrupting but thank the prospect for speaking to you if he/she has done so at an inconvenient time.

Obtain attention quickly: use a question, a referral, a previous request to “contact me again”, a factual statement or some other ‘attention getter’ as soon as possible; don’t waste time.

Explain the benefits of a meeting: motivate the prospect to want to meet you by giving a beneficial reason for doing so; but remember that at this stage you are selling the interview and not the product/service.

• Answer objections and avoid put-offs politely but firmly: always appreciate the client’s point of view; never argue; emphasise that the meeting can be brief; explain why a personal meeting is necessary in the client’s interests; don’t be led into making your actual presentation by phone (unless this is appropriate).

Close on your objective: ask for the appointment directly, with or without one of the back-up closing techniques (e.g. offer alternative times/dates); be as flexible as necessary in terms of when/where; resort to a secondary objective only if you completely fail in your primary one.

Special considerations

• PAs and contact's coworkers: they must be your friends and allies not your adversaries; be polite and never ‘talk down’ to or patronise them; always introduce yourself with first name and surname and be careful about the use of their first names (if in doubt, don’t); ask for their help; smile (even when on the phone); be friendly but don’t waste their time; ask them for information; if they ask for further details before they will put you through, keep it short and simple and politely repeat your request.

• Receptionists: Although there a less around compared to 'back in the day' if you meet a reception desk do exactly as for PAs and the contact's coworkers above but when cold calling be patient and do not rush them; offer to speak directly to your prospect on the receptionist’s phone if preferred; be confident but not aggressive.

• Literature: emailing pdfs, mailing or leaving literature is seldom effective by itself; it can even be counter productive because it gives a prospect a reason for not seeing you personally; always be prepared to explain why it is not a substitute; have ‘mini literature’ which you can send if necessary which will simply whet the client’s appetite; if you have to send full literature then use it as a reason for calling back for a personal appointment.

Business cards: try to avoid giving them to receptionists straightaway, as a snap (negative) judgement may be made by a prospect if your card is read over the phone or presented ‘cold’.

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