Jul 5, 2023 • Podcast

How do I secure more appointments?

Paul offers tips to help you maintain that high activity level and ensure your sales success, even in these slow summer months.

Show Notes

Messaging matters. We must communicate a message of value that will compel the prospect to act.

Listen in to find out those three questions you need to answer for impactful customer messaging.

When you identify a problem to solve, the customer is going to be more willing to meet with you.

Cold calling is not dead! It generates activity which generates momentum…which leads to successes.

The 1-4-1 approach is an effective way to get started. Tune in to find out more.

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How do I secure more appointments?

(Transcribed from podcast)

On today’s episode, we’re going to talk about securing more appointments. We are entering the summer months, and typically during the summer, things start to slow down a little. We’ve seen that people go on vacations, priorities get shifted around, and we know that, as salespeople, maintaining a high activity level is going to lead to our success. So it’s a perfect time to get into how to secure more appointments.

Before we get into that though, just a reminder many of the tools that I’m going to mention today are available in Selling Through Tough Times and Value-Added Selling. In fact, Selling Through Tough Times has a complimentary chapter, that you can download, which will help with your messaging, which is a critical element in securing more appointments. So, check out Toughtimer.com. There we have more information, some complimentary downloads, and templates.

So let’s get into it. How do we secure more appointments? You know, first things first. Messaging matters. We must communicate a message of value that will compel the prospect to want to act. So we need to be aware of that. And even though an initial meeting seems like a small ask, we’ve got to remember that our customers are busy people. And when they see that meeting request come in, they’re looking at what they potentially sacrifice, and they compare that to what they’re going to gain. And as long as they believe they’re going to gain something from that meeting—maybe it’s an insight, maybe it’s an idea—you really get a better chance of actually securing the meeting and getting them to sit down with you.

So, our messaging matters. We need to communicate something of impact, something that’s going to matter to them. And I have a couple of models that are going to help with that. The first one is what we call the Tough-Times Proposition, and this is available for download at Toughtimer.com. There are three questions that we need to answer when we are completing our message, and that is, what is the problem that you’re solving? Okay, that’s number one. Number two: what sort of benefit or outcome will they experience when they partner with you? And number three: why is there a need to act now?

So, in a just a few sentences, even maybe a couple paragraphs at most, you’re able to identify a problem you solve, what is the outcome that the customer will experience or the prospect, and then finally, you’re establishing urgency. You need all three elements.

So, let me break down the problem piece. I’ve mentioned this before, but our research continues to show that when you identify a problem to solve, a customer’s more likely to meet with you. When we surveyed 300 buyers and we asked, “Why would you be willing to meet with a salesperson?” “It appears they can help solve my problem” was the number-one response. So, when problems are present, that creates an opportunity for you to go in there and get some meetings. So remember that. The three questions, again, this is called the Tough-Times Proposition: What is the problem you’re able to solve? What is the outcome or benefit to the customer? And then, why is there a need right now to take action? So check that out at Toughtimer.com.

Now, another component here, generally speaking, to secure more appointments, you need to be more visible within your industry. When I think about top performers and how involved they are in trade associations, the local business community, they’re well known, they’re established, they’re visible out there in their industry. They’re the movers and shakers, and good businesspeople like doing business with other good businesspeople. And so, when you’re thinking about, “Okay, how can I secure more appointments,” you need to be more visible. So, I would encourage you to get involved with your trade associations; get involved with your local chapters of different associations, trade groups, so on, so forth. Just become an active member.

And this includes social media. Getting online to LinkedIn and commenting in group discussions or forums. That’s another helpful way just to get your name out there so that is a clearly more of a long-term type strategy. It’s going to take a while for that to pay off, but hey, in the summer months, what a great time to get started.

Now, I love cold-calling, too. Cold-calling is not dead. And when I say cold-calling, I’m talking about physically actually going into a facility, knocking on doors. And this methodology is great, number one, because it’s a way to generate some activity. You know, in sales, generating activity generates momentum. Momentum equals success. We want to continue to move forward, and going out there and really blanketing an area with cold calling, I think, is a great way to do it. And people will often say, “Gosh, cold-calling is dead. It no longer works.” It does. I hear it time and time again that, what, you’re going to get lucky every now and then.

There are things you can do to improve your likelihood of success, one of which is what I call the anti-freeze sales letter. So this is it a letter, physical letter or you can email it, but I love a good letter, too. There’s no delete button on the letter. (There’s a trash can right next to their desk.) But you have to have a compelling message. Compelling messages they’re going to continue to read.

So in the anti-freeze sales letter, what you are doing is you’re introducing yourself, sharing your value-proposition statement, which is just a clear statement of the tangible outcomes customers receive when they partner with you and experience all of your value. You have that statement in there, you’re introducing yourself, and then you’re letting the customer know, “I’m going to be in the area next Thursday,” whatever date. And you put that in there, you put the date, you make a commitment, and then you stop by and introduce yourself. And what’s going to happen is they’re going to see your company name, they’re going to see your name. You’re making a promise, “I’m going to be in the area on this day. I’ll be stopping in.” And what you’re doing is then you deliver on that—and yeah, maybe you get a meeting, maybe you don’t. But either way, they see your name again. They see that you’ve delivered on something you’ve promised. And if you do this often enough, it’s going to increase the likelihood that you get a meeting. So that’s the idea with that anti-freeze sales letter.

Final tip. I often hear from salespeople that they want to know, “How often should I reach out?” “How, how many times should I reach out before calling it quits?” “What’s the best way to engage the customer?” And there’s no right one way, but here’s what I would encourage. I would encourage a 1-4-1 cadence. So here’s what that means. You’re going to make the initial outreach, and that could be one email or one phone call, or one cold call where you’re actually cold visit, you’re stopping in and hopefully going to get a hold of them. So just one of those.

Then you follow that up with four social media impressions, and here’s how you do it. LinkedIn, we’re sticking with that. Send them a LinkedIn request to connect if you’re not already connected with them. That’s one of the four. Next, you’ve got to have three likes, comments, or shares based on what they’re posting. So, let’s say you’re trying to get a hold of a businessowner, and you send an email. That email—no response. Okay. Next, you’re going to get on LinkedIn; you’re going to connect with that individual. So you make the connection. Once you make the connection, then you’re going to have three likes or comments or shares, any combination of that, just so they can see you. Again, we want to build familiarity. And then the final piece, again, is one more follow-up phone call or email requesting to meet. Now that 1-4-1 approach is a good way to get started. Over the span of a week, 1-4-1.

And then, if you still have no response, let him breathe for a while. That’s one of the problems I think salespeople face is that they just get outright annoying when it comes to the repeated emails and phone calls. And I’m talking like 7 to 10 emails, phone calls. I get them all the time. After about four or five non-responses, I’m not calling you back. There’s a reason why. It’s because I don’t want to meet with you, I don’t want to learn more about your solution. So keep that in mind is that, again, this 1-4-1 approach, it really gives it shows that you are persistent, but you’re not getting into 8-10 touch points and annoying them. Again, 1-4-1, then let the prospect breathe.

Now, just some basic messaging tips. So much messaging out there is what we call seller focused, where it’s focused on you, your product, your need to sell or meet, and it’s really not focused on the customer. Customers respond positively to messages that are focused on them and the outcomes they want to achieve. So it’s about the customer, it’s not about you, it’s not about your product yet. And also, personalize it. Personalize your messaging. If you can make a comment that is industry specific or that shows you’ve researched the prospect, again, that’s a great way to initiate contact. And there’s a great resource: Sam Richter—actually, he’s been on the podcast before—he gives some great examples of how to really make it personal. So, check that out. Well, I hope these tips have been helpful.

Make it a big day.

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