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Top 6 Tips for Appointment Setting

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Appointment setters are very important people in determining the success of a telemarketing campaign. Unfortunately, it is not high in the list of the easiest skills to master. It’s simple, but not easy. Let’s take a look at the top six tips for becoming the best appointment setter.

1. Ask for the Decision Maker. This is the first and most important aspect of becoming an effective and successful appointment setter. Without this, the other five tips don’t matter. Unless you talk to the decision maker, you will be leaving the whole message, all the preparations that you have done with the receptionist or secretary (gate keeper), who will most likely just summarize it in a line and deliver it to the decision maker. You are better off spending your time looking for methods of getting through the gate keeper than pitching to the wrong person.

A common strategy for getting past the gatekeeper would be to ensure that you get proper introductions before you start pitching. This cold calls to warm calls and will usually end in the gatekeeper checking if the decision maker is in a position to take your call, especially if you point out that the call is a follow up to an email conversation or a referral by a respected business acquaintance.

2. Don’t deliver the script word for word. There are many ways a conversation with a prospect could go. Regardless of how good your script is, you can never cover all the possibilities. To ensure that you don’t end up in a mess, stay focused to the main goal. Only ask relevant questions, go straight to the point without beating around the bush, ask for a commitment and close quickly.

Remember, you don’t want to waste any of your prospect’s time. Make sure that you are sold before you try to convince somebody else. Once you understand the product you are selling, you won’t have problems adjusting to any scenario that may come up.

3. Listen and let them know that you are listening. Most appointment setters make the mistake of assuming that their prospects should by default give the responses that are in the scripts. In the real world, this is rarely the case. You need to listen to what the prospects say so that you can understand their priorities and compare them with the position on your end. Armed with this information, you will be in a position to give an arrangement they can’t decline.

While listening, it’s important to ensure that you respond quickly to their concerns. If it’s a call from the prospect or an email reply to your proposal, reply as soon as you can. Delays give them time to reconsider working with you.

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4. What’s in it for the prospect? Your first task is to convince your prospects that your company has something that is valuable to them. Your call has nothing to do with you or what your company seeks to achieve. Before you make the call, look at your marketing material and if you can’t find a benefit to your listener, don’t make that call.

5. Your call should flow seamlessly. Many appointment setters make the mistake of going into a call with no particular direction. Many of these people do good introductions and give a good reason for calling then they mess it all up by talking too much and losing the impact of the message. Others take a very big leap into the next step without systematically following the set out process.

Having a strategy will see to it that you don’t stray from the main message. It will also ensure that you systematically guide your prospects up to the point where an agreement is reached. The strategy should be interesting and engaging enough keep the prospect curious and well-motivated to move along the process with you.

Photo by Robert Couse-Baker

6. Never Stop Learning. There is no correct way to do this. The point is to have a keen eye for detail. If you make a mistake, take note and don’t repeat it. If you find something that works, keep doing it and while you are at it, find better and easier ways of doing it. Here are a few noteworthy examples:

1. A number of appointment setters like to close by asking closed questions like this: Will it be possible to meet so we can discuss more about your business? This question calls for a yes or no answer. Changing it to something like: Which day would be best for you, Thursday or Friday? Without realizing it, most prospects will give a ‘yes’ to the original question when it is ‘rephrased’ to sound like the second one.

2. Another one involves using the word ‘interested’ in calls. Many appointment setters by default find themselves using lines like this: I’m calling to check if this is something that you would be interested in investing time/money in etc. This naturally prompts the prospects to ask for more information which further leaves you with a more difficult job of convincing them that your alternative – out of the many possible options – is the best for the job. Avoid asking if they are interested. You have already established that they should be interested by making sure that the product has a benefit to their business. So yes, they are interested. Move on from there.

There are many tips that can make you a good telemarketer that produces results. The important thing is to ensure that you bite off only what you can chew. Take one step at a time. Don’t try to learn everything in a single weekend. Take one tip, try it out for about a week, check the results, and once you are confident that you have perfected the skill, move on to the next one. Before you know it, you will be a better telemarketer with results everyone will envy.

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