This article originally appeared on ProducersWeb.
An appointment setting program can be a valuable source of new business for a producer, but the sales scenario is different from a cold call or a referral.
Today, one of the very best “handlers” of our appointments still tells the story of when he started working with his appointment setting program. “For the first three months, I really got my nose bloodied,” he says. He was accustomed to working with referrals, but adapting to cold appointments was challenging. He says that learning to succeed in these unique sales scenarios has been invaluable because of the positive impact it has had on his business.
In our world, a cold appointment is a meeting that has been set on behalf of the producer and that the producer will not touch until the day and time of the appointment. After talking with producers, outside sales coaches and other experts in the industry, we assembled these 10 secrets to making a cold appointment a success:
1. Don’t treat them like a referral or an appointment from a center of influence. You are at square one.
2. Leverage your staff and centers of influence to see if there is a link between you and the prospect.
3. Don’t contact the prospect for any reason prior to the appointment. Let your appointment setter own it until you meet.
4. Set an expectation for the meeting. Don’t put the prospect on the defensive or in a position where they may be surprised.
5. Have a tight, disciplined process for explaining what you do and how you do it. Walk the prospect through the start of your relationship, the implementation stage and ongoing service and support.
6. Set a meeting agenda or up-front contract to let your prospect know that the meeting is about finding a good fit for everyone involved. Essentially, the end goal of the meeting should be to secure a second meeting or to decide that you and your prospect are not a good fit. Clearly defining this expectation is good for everyone involved and helps to avoid the time-consuming (and rarely profitable) dance that follows an uncertain conclusion to a meeting.
7. Don’t overwhelm the prospect with information. Remember that the goal of the meeting is to get another meeting and not to tell them everything you know.
8. Getting to the mandate — the why — and discovering what is holding them back is vital. Otherwise, their desire to act and move forward will not exist, and they will simply be left with what it will cost to work together.
9. Always ask for the next meeting. Set expectations for the meeting and what needs done prior — a to-do list.
10. Behave more like a consultant and less like a salesperson. Spend more of your time listening and having a meaningful conversation about their problems and how they could potentially be solved. All you’ll need at this stage is a pen, a tablet, a business card, and a willingness to listen.
These tips will help you to make the most of your appointment setting program. If you feel like you’re still leaving meetings with a bloody nose, talk to your appointment provider about resources, guides and coaching. Cold appointments are a unique sales puzzle, and the rewards can be great if you give yourself time to master your approach.
Don’t give up.