By John Pojeta
Appointment-setting programs fail for one of two reasons. Either the appointments may be poorly qualified or the producer may not have a well-refined sales process built to capitalize on these unique opportunities.
As easy as it may be to blame failure on the quality of the appointments that you receive, turning your attention to the structure and organization of your sales pipeline can prepare you to increase your success in all sales scenarios, appointments included.
The most successful appointment-setting programs are a partnership between great appointment-setters and great producers. In this case study, we use a real-world example as a launch pad for evaluating your own sales process.
David is an experienced health producer who serves businesses with 25 to 500 employees. Before David incorporated appointment setting into his new business efforts, he had the usual reservations. He worried about how an appointment-setting firm would manage his reputation on calls. He was skeptical about the quality of appointments he would receive. Most of all, he was concerned about the return that he would see on his investment and how long it would take to see that return.
After hearing multiple colleagues speak positively about the way appointment setting was helping them to find new opportunities and grow their businesses, David decided to start a program for himself.
Since then, appointment setting has had a positive impact on his business, but it’s important to note that, for David, appointment setting is one piece of a highly structured sales pipeline. In his pipeline, there is no magic bullet. Each piece supports the success of the others.
David’s sales pipeline
Prior to incorporating an appointment-setting program, David’s sales pipeline included:
• Referrals from existing clients.
• Relationships with key centers of influence.
• A well-organized and consistent drip marketing system.
• Personal one-on-one follow-up.
• Quarterly seminars.
Like any good producer, David served his clients well and developed meaningful relationships with experts in related fields, creating a steady trickle of referrals from existing clients and from trusted centers of influence. Sometimes these referrals result in immediate sales, but in many cases the timing isn’t right. Rather than abandon an opportunity, David plugs these prospects into his drip system so that he can continue building rapport. He knows that some opportunities can take years to mature, and he is patient enough to wait.
David isn’t the only producer using a drip system to maintain regular contact with a prospect, but he does take a slightly different approach. Instead of relying solely on emails and follow-up calls from his staff to re-engage prospects, he makes an effort to call prospects personally. These calls give David a chance to continue building genuine relationships with prospects, and he uses these calls as opportunities to drive attendance for his quarterly seminars.
Like his calls, his seminars have a personal touch as well. Instead of rotating through a set list of topics, David tailors his seminars specifically to the needs of his clients and prospects, giving him an authentic and meaningful way to foster ongoing conversations. With this approach, he positions himself as a helpful resource. He mixes clients and prospects with like issues, fostering new relationships and strengthening existing ones. Although his ultimate goal is to get the sale, his follow-up efforts are grounded in information that is relevant and timely to his prospects.
In the conversations that David has with prospects, whether in one-on-one settings or in seminar settings, he isn’t afraid to challenge the way they think. He doesn’t overload them with facts, figures and features. He takes the time to understand a prospect’s needs and goals, and he offers astute insights based on his industry experience. Sometimes these insights run counter to what prospects may think they need or want, but David’s expert and assertive approach sets him apart from other producers. Whereas some producers will dance through demands and objections to get the sale, David stands his ground on what’s best for the prospect’s situation, earning him respect and trust while also helping him to set expectations for the relationship.