What do you know now that you wish you knew when you began your career as a business to business appointment setter? That was the question we polled veteran cold callers to answer on a TeleReach Corporate Virtual Lunch & Earn. We all work from home since 1996, however, these responses for this topic are the same whether you are working from home, in a brick and mortar call center, or commuting to a corporate office. Here are some of the compiled responses.
Assigning recall dates – “We signed a contract last week. You’re too late.” Those words are like a punch in the gut, especially after making so many dials. For us, the lead generators, it means you missed the opportunity to schedule the sales appointment. For the salesperson we support, it means they missed the window of opportunity, which may not roll around again for some time. Fortunately, there is a system that gives us the heads up when the window of opportunity is coming around.
Assigning and managing recall dates is one of the tools that helps you mitigate the risk of missing sales opportunities as they come around. It is built into our technology, however, any system that works is good and having a system is essential. Veteran cold callers know that assigning appropriate recall dates is a vital part of efficient lead management, part of a system that will help you build and manage a smarter list for yourself. Understanding the detail of when and how to assign recall dates is one of the many skills necessary to be a top appointment setter.
In business to business appointment setting, we don’t always get a one call appointment close. We’d love it if we did, however, it is unrealistic to think that you will schedule an appointment with one call on all of your calls. There are several reasons you may need to call back. Timing is one reason. For example, the prospect company may be in a contract or too far out from their renewal cycle, or their project initiative won’t be ready for another quarter. If the prospect tells you to call back in six months, it is better to assign a recall date of four months rather than risk waiting six months. If you wait too long to call back, you risk losing the window of annual renewal. If you call too soon, you waste time and may annoy the prospect.
Another example of assigning a recall date is when a prospect tells you to call them back at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday. In that case, you need to make sure you call them back at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday. You need a system to help you manage your legwork.
Waiting on hold. Waiting on hold for long periods of time turns into the equivalent of telephone loitering. Don’t stay on hold waiting for someone forever. As John Wayne would say, “we’re burnin’ daylight.” Time is money. Call them back.
Listen to voice mail. Even when you don’t connect with the decision maker, if you listen to the voice mail, you can gain relevant information such as names, numbers or vacation days. It is a good practice to ask for voice mail even when they will not give you a name. Ask to leave a message.
Automated systems. Sometimes you can try a common name or any extension to get to speak with someone, then ask who you need to speak with.
Caller ID. If you block your number or name, you will not get the best results.
When a prospect says, “call me back so I have time to check my schedule.” Offer to put a time on the calendar and send a confirmation. It works often, but never if you don’t ask.
Open ended questions. Learn to ask open-ended questions to engage participation in the call. It’s just as easy to say “what initiatives do you have coming up this quarter?” as it is to say “do you have any initiatives?”
Ask. Ask for the appointment. Ask for direct dial line. Ask to leave a message. Ask for additional titles. Ask for referrals. Pretty much nothing at all happens unless you ask.
Relax your voice. Know that your appointments are coming and remain calm so the frustration does not come through in your voice.
Call at different times. Try different times of the day and days of the week to reach people. If you call the person at the same time all the time, you may never cross paths.
Sound files. You can learn a lot from listening to other people’s calls, especially top producers. You can learn a lot from listening to calls on the other end of the spectrum also, about what not to do.
Be prepared. You don’t want to come across as “one of those damn telemarketers” by sounding like you are reading a script. That’s about the worst thing you can do. Practice until it becomes second nature. You can role play with others in your company, or call your friends, or simply talk to yourself in the mirror. Learn how to respond to the most common objections and learn the objections that are unique to your client.
Sending information. It is possible to offer to send information and book the appointment. It does not have to be an either/or proposition. If a prospect asks for more information, of course you can send them information, but also remember to ask for the appointment. That is the most time efficient thing to do.
Maintain your pace. It is especially easy to get distracted when working from home. Remember to keep dialing and keep smiling. Keep track of your dials per hour so you have confidence that you are maintaining your pace.
About the Author
Tracie Chancellor, CEO and Founder of TeleReach Corporate, national business to business call center specializing in sales appointment setting and lead generation, based in Houston, Texas. Chancellor is an MBA graduate of the University of Houston with over 20 years hands-on sales and marketing experience, working with privately-held businesses, universities, non-profit organizations, as well as Fortune businesses in the business to business marketing space.