I work as a salesman for a commercial lighting company. Because I have relatively few customers I am knocking doors to businesses most of the time and it is frustrating!
The sale is a 2 call process. An appointment has to be made for a free energy assessment and then I return with a representative from the local utility to do a presentation.
I have 2 repeating situations:
A. The decision maker is not there. In this case I have taken down the info and followed up with a phone call. However it's a lot easier for my call to be screened or if I do get through the decision maker will put me off without listening.
B. Some "flunky", secretary, or gate keeper asks me "what's this about"? Then when I tell them it's for a free estimate or "it's about reducing your company's operating costs," they will say "oh we're fine," or "not interested"
I believe strongly in what I am doing because in all cases the payback for a business is less than 2 years if they get my product!
Can anybody out there give me some appointment setting secrets?
Comment from Stephen Craine:
Daniel this is a very topical question and it highlights what I think is the changing face of sales stages and the selling process.
In both Direct Sales to the public and B2B selling prospects are being bombarded with cold callers, many of them making offers worded similarly to yours. Like your proposal for an energy assessment the majority of the calls prospects receive are genuine and may well save them money or offer a benefit.
The problem is they are constantly being called, emailed, and hit with mail-shots with people offering what could be good ideas based on an assessment, completing a questionnaire, or qualifying in some way to gain a benefit. If B2B prospects answered every call that currently gets stopped by their gatekeeper they wouldn’t have any time left for working. I know, I’m a buyer as well as a seller, and I can receive as many as 20 calls a day from sales people that may well have a good deal for me but I just don’t have the time to talk to them all.
So what’s the answer
I think there are 2 answers to your problem.
The first is an a solution that you could use if you are working within a fixed format, if your sales and prospecting process is decided by your company and you have to work within the framework that they demand.
In this case you are limited to the ways that you can come up with to get around the issues of trying to contact prospects through the normal cold calling channels. Take a look at this page on Telephone Skills for some ideas on changing the prospect’s viewpoint on your calls.
The second solution requires a complete change from the old fashioned way of a single line of approach to a prospect. Unfortunately it can cost money and time, and many companies won’t make the investment to move into this modern sales and prospecting mindset. These companies will get left behind as their competitors take a more holistic approach to selling.
Let me give you an example: As I write this I have Facebook open in another window. There are 2 adverts in the left column that each has just one line to catch a reader’s attention and influence them to click through and get closer to buying.
1. A new travel site has opened check out more by clicking this ad.
2. Click here to preview a free chapter of ... and it gives the author and title of the book.
The first hook line is a standout sales call to action. Everyone sees this as an advert for a new travel site and unless you had a strong current interest in travelling you would ignore it.
The second is a more subtle approach that offers information, and even better it offers it for free. People will click through on this advert even if they have a very low interest in the subject or the author.
The key to this holistic sales and marketing approach is to put in front of your potential customers as many opportunities as you can for them to take a small first step towards you. The example was from Facebook but it could have been any social media, an email shot, an electronic brochure, a hard copy mail shot, a TV or radio advert, a blog, article writing, a review of your service by someone independent, and many of a multitude of other ways that you can get your message in front of a potential customer.
The modern way to sell is to appear not to sell. The best way to influence customers to come towards you is to give them a reason so that they can see a potential benefit. Just like your call offering a free energy assessment but in as many different forms as possible so that it can get past the gatekeeper.
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