BY MICHAEL PEDONE
“When cold calling, how can our sales team make strong appointments that stick?”
Setting appointments have two common problems:
- Initial interest (“No, thanks, we already have someone that takes care of that” etc)
- Cancellations / No-Shows.
These two common sales challenges aren’t a byproduct of sales. They are a result of using improper sales techniques, methods and strategies.
In short, the sales person set the wrong goal for the sales call prior to picking up the phone, and, therefore, has guaranteed themselves a high failure rate.
When we set a goal or a “purpose” for a sales call (in this case, to set an appointment) we tend to go directly to that point to try and achieve it.
A BAD BUT COMMON example of a sales call for setting an appointment might go something like this:
SALESPERSON: Hi, this is (your name) with (your company). We provide (blah blah blah) and I’d like to see if I could get on your calendar sometime this week. Is Tuesday or Thursday better for you?
PROSPECT: Uh, I don’t think we would be interested. We already have a company that does that.
One of the biggest mistakes appointment setters, or sales people that need to set their own appointments, make is they have the wrong purpose / goal or objective of the call to begin with.
The only way to increase the odds of a prospect wanting to meet with you, and to keep the appointment once they set it, is for the prospect to want to meet with you, more than you want to meet with them. And for that to happen, they will need to have a big WHAT’S IN IT FOR THEM understanding.
Instead of going for the “close” of setting the appointment in your opening sales call, focus on piquing interest in order to be able to ask them a few questions to see if meeting would even be beneficial for them.
To set more appointments that stick, use an opening value statement that piques your prospect’s interest and then ask a few of the right sales questions that focuses your prospect attention on an area that will uncover a problem. Do it correctly and your appointment quota will be met, if not exceeded, and your prospects will be happy you called.
HERE’S WHY THAT’S NOT THE “BEST” QUALIFYING QUESTION TO ASK:
For starters, almost every sales person, no matter what they are selling, asks the “What challenges are you experiencing?” (or very similar) qualifying question.
Now put yourself in your prospects shoes for a moment. If you are a decision maker where you work, that means you are getting calls from tons of different salespeople in all different verticals every week.
And no matter what it is they are selling, they all start to sound the same to you. It won’t take long for prospects to tune out a salesperson that asks that question.
You, as a sales professional, want to separate yourself from the everyday average sales herd. You want to stand out from the pack. Be unique.
Especially early on in the sales process.With that being said, let’s get one thing straight— The “What challenges are you experiencing with…” qualifying question is attempting to uncover a buying motive or what I like to call, get “problem recognition.”
When a sales person asks “What challenges are you experiencing with…” they are hoping that the prospect will spill the beans on their biggest headaches and hand them their problems on a silver platter.
And if you are in customer service, and you handle inbound calls from prospects that are wanting you to solve a problem for them, then by all means, ask the “What challenges are you experiencing with…” question.But the article said they were going to show the best “sales prospecting qualifying questions to ask” and if you are PROSPECTING, you aren’t in customer service and you aren’t sitting around waiting for inbound calls.
You’re making outbound sales calls to prospects that, in most cases, weren’t expecting your call. And if you get past the opener (what you say after “Hello, my name is…”) and they are still on the phone, and you ask the “What challenges are you experiencing?” question, well, today’s prospects are going to get annoyed real fast with you.
IT’S NOT YOUR PROSPECTS JOB TO EDUCATE YOU.
You should already know what challenges your target audience has to have in order for them to be a potential prospect.
Let me explain. Every business is only in business because they solve specific problems for certain audiences. You need to know what those most common or popular problems are, and also know what CAUSES those problems and THAT is where you will find your buying motive (problem recognition) question to ask.
When I’m speaking with a prospect, instead of asking “What challenges are you experiencing?” I’ll ask these questions:
- How often does your team get blocked by gatekeepers? (All day long!)
- What about voicemail… are they getting a fair amount of prospects to call them back? (No!)
- What about when they actually get a decision maker on the phone… do they hear “No, Thanks” / “Not Interested” / “We’re all set!” responses? (YES!!!)
We confirmed the challenges that they are having and my questions were unique to their situation. I didn’t sound like everyone else. And since those are the areas that I specialize in fixing, I know I can help them.
Once you’ve crystallized who your targeted audience is and what problems they have to have that would make them interested in your solutions, only then will you be able to come up with the right “buying motive” or “problem recognition” qualifying questions for your specific audience.
And guess what?! Your question will be unique, and specific to your targeted audience. It won’t sound like all the other sales calls your prospect gets all day long.
And here’s the best part: when they answer it, it will be genuine and insightful.
– Michael Pedone