All size businesses often have to deal with limited resources, time constraints and an overstretched worked force. While majority of today’s businesses utilize modern ways and technology to connect with its customers, getting that critical appointment and your message across remains a challenge. Overcoming this great hurdle will determine whether you have successfully established a favorable condition for your next lead generation move.
Undoubtedly, having a face-to-face interaction with the person you would want to meet provides an excellent personal way to deliver your message. However, taking that first step of setting an appointment yourself may take a lot of time and effort not to mention the frustration associated with rejections and unanswered calls. Outsourcing appointment setting is widely recognized and accepted by businesses of all sizes and across all industries as one of the most cost effective and efficient ways to help you break the ice and establish contact.
Keep in mind that it does take a significant amount of patience and a lot of soft skills to be able to set up an appointment. That’s where we come in and this is what we excel in! Remember that we take enormous pride in our personal and professional demeanor.
This is the first article in a series designed to help you become more successful in your lead generation appointment setting campaign.
The 7 Effective Guidelines for Successful Appointment Setting Campaign
Guideline #1 – Have an extensive prospect list
Successful lead generation services is first and foremost a numbers game. However, we must not underestimate the importance and quality of prospects. This is the breadth and depth of your target market, a balance between quantity and quality. For this particular guideline, we would like to emphasize the critical aspect of quantity.
You should begin any endeavor, project or business idea by thinking big. You want to maximize the number of prospects to ensure the success of your efforts. Having a substantial number of potential prospects equals a better chance of getting someone for an appointment. I would like to use an illustration of a deck of playing cards. A standard deck contains 4 Aces. Add another standard deck and the two decks add up to 8 Aces from a total of 104 cards. The number of Aces grows exponentially by adding incremental standard decks of cards.
Another illustration is the use of a shotgun versus a rifle approach. Fire a single rifle shot and hopefully you will hit one target. If you use the shotgun, you have an opportunity to hit two targets with a single shot.
Bottom line is that the more shots you fire at a target using the shotgun, the higher the probability of hitting more and more targets.
Let me expand on this subject matter further. Making appointment setting calls is all about efficiency. It’s about the number of prospects being contacted for an appointment regardless of the outcome. On the other hand, our secret sauce in terms of what we do, and how we handle the call to a prospect that results in a successful appointment is what we refer to as call effectiveness. There is a remarkable difference between these two concepts. We will discuss call effectiveness separately in future articles. For the time being, we revert back to the importance of achieving call efficiency.
To ensure the success of any lead generation effort or a sales campaign, it is absolutely crucial that we begin with a high number of prospects. It is the fuel and lifeblood that makes a campaign successful. Another important point to keep in mind is that the campaign must become self sustainable. What does this mean to you? It simply means you will be able to increase the rate of success for an appointment as our representatives gain more experience and sharpen their skills specific to your requirements. Candidly, we would like to work with you on a long-term basis. This will be to your advantage as well as ours. We get to understand your requirements and your prospects better, and become more proficient in your industry.
Guideline #2 – Choose the best prospect profile
In the first guideline, we dealt with having an exhaustive prospect list which is the first step toward success in an appointment setting campaign. We also talked about breadth and depth of prospects, Guideline #2 will expand on this subject.
Beginning with breadth and depth, the former refers to the actual number of prospects and the latter to the actual quality of prospects in your list. Having a greater number of potential prospects increases the chances to schedule an appointment. Like we said earlier, it is a numbers game. However, this is partly true because the next critical factor to consider is the actual quality of the prospect itself. Are we calling on your targeted prospect or are we just trying to hit anything that we come across while hoping to get some results? Imagine the opportunity cost of an unproductive effort that could have delivered better results had we gone over the prospect list before delivering it to the lead generation company.
The best way to approach this issue is to use targeted selection. As you work on your prospect list, evaluate if this is the right person or institution for our appointment setting agents to call. Eliminate guesswork in your prospect selection by doing your due diligence. You are the ultimate person to determine whether the prospect fits your service or product offering. When you choose a prospect, choose wisely by aligning your product or service offering with your prospect’s profile.
As you work on your prospect list, make sure that you do extensive due diligence. Study each name carefully and determine whether or not the prospect fits your product offering or service properly. Determine if they are your target prospect by checking their age, sex, background, title or position. Next, verify their availability and contact details, remember to be precise and accurate. By taking this step, you will be able to considerably enhance the efficiency of your appointment setting company. It will be an intelligent move on your part.
Guideline #3 – Create a well-organized call guide
Appointment setting requires a great deal of communication skills, but more importantly, it is the actual content of the message that can make or break a successfully scheduled lead generation appointment with your prospects. In this section, we will discuss the importance of call effectiveness and the development of the content and flow of a well-organized call guide.
While call efficiency is associated with the actual number of calls made by the agent regardless of the outcome, call effectiveness is about what you actually say and do when the prospect is on the phone. The mechanism for influencing call efficiency is directly linked to the number of calls made while call effectiveness is determined by the appointments that were actually scheduled. Increasing the number of prospects increases call efficiency while improving the message and its flow increases call effectiveness.
The call guide can either create interest with the first few sentences of the opening statement or shut the door of opportunity completely even before getting to deliver the main idea of your campaign. I don’t know why I always look at things from the perspective of two opposing sides. But it does seem right to have a balanced perspective of things. So which one is more important, communication skill or the communication message? I do not intend to start a prolonged debate on the subject and I would like to avoid controversy by taking a strong position on this issue. Or maybe one would say both are equally important, but one takes precedence over the other. Again, I would rather set this issue aside, and allow you to think about your own position on this subject matter.
What we are emphasizing is that communication skills and the message itself should complement each other. One cannot exist without the other. Skill is addressed by training and experience, while the communication message is addressed by its content and flow. The call guide should include a good opening statement that arouses interest, it must have an appealing content, followed by a solid closing and lastly, comprehensive information that is useful to address possible objections from prospects.
Here again is the issue of balance. You must provide precise amount of information at the right moment by not overloading the prospect with too much data. Most of the information and key data points may best be delivered during the appointment itself. Communicating the significance of the appointment is the key objective that must be addressed by the call guide.
The lead generation call guide must not only provide the essential information needed for an effective appointment setting campaign, it must equally have a logical and precise flow of ideas and thoughts. The flow must follow a logical pattern that would persuade and lead the prospect to essentially say yes to the appointment.
Guideline #4 – Develop a worthwhile promotional effort
“What’s in it for me?” This is a key question that we always ask ourselves when we are being introduced to a new idea, concept, product or service. A benefit of a particular product or service offering may be communicated to a prospect but nothing can be as effective as to offer an example of direct experience by means of a promotional effort.
There is a broad range of promotional efforts you can use to enhance the results of an appointment setting campaign. It may include samples of products or previous engagements, complimentary consultation, testimonials from existing clients, a work guarantee promise, pay-for-results schemes, workable payment arrangements, etc… You may want to employ one or two of these promotional efforts or a combination of several others. We cannot predict what promotional effort will work, but you can always decide to try one approach at a time based on your needs as well as your clients’. After you have gained enough experience testing your promotions, you can then vary your approach and timing on your next successful promotional effort for your Inside Sales or lead generation.
We will not get tired of reminding you how important and critical it is to establish a connection with your prospect from the very start. In order to sustain the interest of your prospects that leads to an appointment, the most basic approach is to ask yourself as if you were the prospect “what’s in it for me?” It’s like being in the shoes of your prospect. It is thinking outside the box, putting the interest of your prospects above your own, it is about helping and assisting your prospects and finally, it’s all about your prospects and not you.
Guideline #5 – Train the appointment setter
Our appointment setter acts as your alter ego – your other self. He represents you, an extension of the product or your service offering. Before you can even begin having that face-to-face interaction with your prospect, the appointment setter has already established a relationship with the prospect for you. As with all corporate mission / vision statements, human resources are your most valuable resource / asset. The appointment setter is your most valuable resource in relationship building. He or she can establish trust in you at the onset and later on your product or service offering.
Keep in mind that the appointment setter absorbs verbal abuse, experiences frustrations, exhibits patience at the highest level, and still remains extremely professional at all times to get the necessary results. Needless to say, these are common challenges that the appointment setting agents could easily handle given the right training. Never leave your appointment setter without knowledge while expecting him or her to deliver superb results for your campaign.
Train your appointment setter by providing comprehensive information on your products and services and role play whenever possible. As mentioned in guideline #3, the call guide is a key element in conducting the training. Have appointment setter deliver the call guide to you as he or she would to a prospect. After the role playing session, suggest any improvement needed to increase the chance of getting an appointment. Suggesting conversation delivery improvements through positive feedback and reinforcement are the key components of successful agent mentoring and coaching.
Guideline # 6 – Create a database to track results
There are utility tools available to track live results of an appointment setting campaign such as Google Docs.
Guideline #7 – Follow through on the progress of the campaign
Keeping yourself engaged with the lead generation effort not only allows you to measure the effectiveness of the campaign on a live basis but more importantly, it allows you to make immediate adjustments necessary to achieve the results you want. It can be an improvement or a change in approach, an idea on how to handle objections from prospects or knowing the best solution to a particular situation.
There may be several other variables that may affect the outcome of the appointment setting campaign, and it may not be possible to predict all the different scenarios that may arise during the call with an actual prospect. Most of the scenarios cannot be covered by training except those that are most common. Having you actively involved in the campaign effort and available anytime to help the appointment setter would not only contribute significantly to the appointment setting campaign effort but most of all increase their morale.
We recommend for you to make a 24/7 help line available for your appointment setter. Welcome and encourage them to consult with you and show genuine concern for their success. I possess a firm belief that most people do not want to fail, they always want to be the best they can be in their assigned tasks.
However, there are always certain conditions that hinder their desire and ability to excel, and it is present in an environment or culture that endorses criticisms and enforces punishment. Rarely would people open up when there is a fear of reprisal.
Our appointment setter is your resource. Establishing a relationship with them throughout the campaign deepens their understanding and knowledge of your business and provides them with a meaningful and thoughtful consideration of your prospects.
We truly hope that this “Effective Guidelines for Successful Appointment Setting” article was able to provide you with helpful tips and insights when creating your own lead generation campaign. For any comments, suggestions, ideas, and / or questions related to this topic you may contact us through email. We will respond promptly and treat all received information as completely confidential.