Your prospects are busy people, sure. But that’s not the only reason it’s hard to schedule appointments.
Refresh your cold call approach and learn how to set more sales appointments over the phone with the help of our crash course in this crucial aspect of outbound sales.
In our guide to appointment-setting, we cover:
6+ Tips for Setting More Appointments Over the Phone
1. Make More Calls
Want more appointments? Make more calls. In a certain sense, it’s that simple. More appointment-setting phone calls means more chances to, well, set appointments.
Of course, this doesn’t just mean mindlessly hammering away at prospects with more calls than anybody wants to receive. Instead of dialing harder, dial smarter using better outbound call strategies. With the help of contact center software, focus on not only calling your leads at the right times but also penetrating your lists more thoroughly—that is, reaching out to more leads—and doing so with more overall talk time and less downtime between calls.
2. Get There Quickly
Once again, however, even if you’re getting through your lists quickly, you can’t just do so without a strategy. To set more appointments in phone sales, you need to focus on a key metric: speed to lead.
Dial your leads with a last in, first out mentality to prioritize your warmest leads.
To achieve greater speed to lead, you need to ensure that your freshest, newest, and probably hottest leads are the ones you dial first. Whenever possible, you should be reaching out over the phone (and if not, then over text or email) within just minutes.
To pull this off, automation that eliminates unnecessary processes and loads new leads into the front of the queue is absolutely essential. But more on that later.
3. Understand Your Leads
Once you’re getting customers on the phone, just how well you understand their needs will be evident in how easy it is to set appointments. Without thoroughly researching your target audience, it’s tough to deliver a sales message that jibes with prospects’ desires, overcomes their pain points, and convinces them overall.
To have more effective appointment-setting conversations, start by bridging the divide between marketing and sales: borrow from market and customer research, develop detailed buyer personas, and make sure that your knowledge of your audience shines through.
4. Create an Effective Appointment-Setting Script
One way to ensure that all that customer knowledge is put to good use is to create appointment-setting sales scripts. While every salesperson can still benefit from improvisational skills and thinking on their feet, going into a call with a well-researched and carefully crafted script can make every bit of difference. As you write your sales messaging, keep these outbound scripting best practices in mind:
- Act natural: Craft your script in a way that reflects genuine, everyday conversation. Prioritize natural, informal language that connects with people. Steer clear from jargon and clichés.
- Don’t oversell: Even if a potential client shows interest in your offerings, they likely won’t appreciate feeling pressured by a “hard sell” approach.
- Create a need for the appointment: Instill a feeling of urgency, but do so without creating an atmosphere of stress.
- Address pain points: Incorporate clear and succinct statements that address customer needs.
- Employ an active voice: An active voice often resonates more due to its clarity and assertiveness. Compare these phrases: “Customers save money with our product” (active) versus “Our product provides savings for our customers” (passive).
5. Personalize Your Initial Opening and Pitch
Having set scripts doesn’t need to lead to a cookie-cutter approach though. Personalization is still important—because it’s still what prospects expect.
Include in your scripts as many opportunities as possible for a personal touch. At the very least, make sure your scripts:
- Reference the lead source: Remind leads of how and where they expressed their initial interest at the opening of the call.
- Leverage customer history: If a prospect can be segmented based on their demographic information, data they’ve provided, or something in their case history, use those details to help inform your pitch.
- Make room for questions: Often, the best way to tailor a conversation and sales pitch to a particular prospect’s needs is to get them to volunteer their biggest concerns and requirements.
6. Be Ready for Objections
Even the most qualified prospects sometimes have objections. Knowing how to handle them is often what separates a set appointment from a lost lead.
To ensure your team’s ready to respond on all calls, make rebuttals a key aspect of both your onboarding and your ongoing agent training. One of the easiest and most effective ways to handle objections is by compiling them as they happen. Crowdsource them from your team along with their most successful rebuttals—and make reviewing these responses a regular part of your coaching.
More Creative Ways to Set Appointments in Sales
The tips above will probably have you and your sales reps’ schedules filled with sales appointments. But those looking to fine-tune the process even more can add these creative tactics to their appointment-setting arsenal.
Lead with the Appointment
Ask solar sales expert and longtime lead generator Heather Griffin, and she’ll tell you to just go for it. According to her approach, if you work in an industry like solar, home remodeling or, say, pest control lead generation, where appointments aren’t just important but strictly necessary to closing a sale, you might as well secure the appointment first.
This strategy for setting sales appointments can be particularly effective when you’re working with fresher, higher-intent leads. Make setting the appointment easy from the get-go by giving them concrete options. For example: “We’ll have a technician in your neighborhood tomorrow with appointments at 1:00 and 3:00—which of these is better for you?”
Use an Intelligent Virtual Agent
Nowadays, it can be easier to let an artificial intelligence handle the details of appointment setting. Let an intelligent virtual agent solution hammer out availability while your sales agents handle the next call. Simply build this step into your script and automated outbound workflows, informing interested prospects that they’ll receive a text or email just after the call is over.
Rely on Additional Appointment-Setting Software
For those that are a little more manual about their appointment, there’s still plenty of software to help streamline some of the thornier aspects of appointment-setting. (Think: time zones, calendar openings, all that fun stuff.) Use scheduling software like Calendly or Keap to avoid those dreaded, drawn-out back-and-forths too often involved in finding a time that works for two parties.
Tools for Appointment-Setting Call Centers
Aside from those simple scheduling tools, there’s no shortage of technology that can help your sales team set more appointments over the phone. Don’t overlook these top picks in particular:
Predictive and Power Dialer Software
In our tips above, we led off with the importance of making more calls. Your strategy is part of the equation here, but you also need to have the right technology. And there’s no better way to optimize your sales reps’ times and dial more of your prospects than with predictive and power dialing software.
Without a powerful dialer, you’re leaving countless conversions on the table.
Eliminate unproductive idle time and keep your agents in a groove by upping your dial rate, penetrating through your lists, and achieving the speed to lead you need to maximize set appointments and sales over the phone. All it takes is an automation-powered dialer software.
Well-written scripts are going to help you set more appointments. Simple as.
But following them should be simple for agents, too.
So, create your scripts using dynamic scripting software. Rather than having to read from a doc like an actor trying to learn their lines, this software will automatically pop personalized sales scripts that respond in real time based on a customer’s response. And as the scripts update, so will your CRM.
Not only does dynamic scripting make it easier to convert customers, it also makes it easier to get new agents up and running on the phones faster. Start setting more appointments, then hire and quickly onboard additional agents who can set even more appointments—that sounds like growth to us.
Automated QA Solutions
Call center reporting and analytics tools can deliver a wealth of insights on almost everything that goes on on your sales floor (or across your virtual team). But most solutions aren’t able to listen in on your actual conversations: you understand what comes before calls and the results that come out of them, but agent conversations themselves are sort of a black box.
To fix this, you can hire a bigger QA team, sure. But then, how big exactly does this team need to be to listen in on every conversation your reps have?
Instead, what if your software could do much of the work for your QA team, leaving them to analyze data and deliver the feedback that actually moves the needle?
The latest sales QA tools make that option a reality. Integrating with your dialer, these tools record, transcribe, and analyze your conversations to drastically speed up the process of identifying errors, opportunities for improvements, and patterns that are driving success.
In tandem with the tips above, the tools covered here, and the free script templates available for download below, these solutions can provide a much-needed refresh to the way you set sales appointments over the phone.