Monday, 3 November 2014

7 steps to making appointments and obtaining interviews by phone and on site

As competition increases, and clients and prospects become busier and busier, the challenge of getting in front of the right people at the right time becomes greater and greater. 

So you must become more skilled and more professional at making appointments and obtaining interviews with both new prospects and existing clients.

The principles are basically the same for both categories.  But the application of those principles will differ according to whether you are making a first contact or a repeat call.

There are two main methods available to you:
·         Telephone
·         On site 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 has to be supplemented by one of the two main methods.

The 7 step sequence

Two delegates on a sales programme in role plays,
 they are back to back ( to avoid eye contact) using mobiles
 at Warwick Conferences, University of Warwick
This is the same whichever method you are using and is very similar to the sequence of an actual sales presentation:
  1.           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.
  2.          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.
  3.          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.
  4.          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.
  5.           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.
  6. Liz role playing the salesperson, 
    Kerry playing the role of  a challenging client !
    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).
  7.           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

·         Secretaries and  PA s:  they must be your friends and allies not your adversaries; be polite and never ‘talk down’ to 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:  exactly as for secretaries and PAs but when  calling on site 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:  sending or leaving literature is very rarely any good 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 front desk receptionists, as a snap (negative) judgement may be made by a prospect if your card is read over the phone or presented ‘cold’.

Liz and Kerry practice using their mobiles

Q: How do you get those appointments?

A: Practise Practise Practise

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