Appointments are the lifeblood of your business, the continual growth that sustains your brand even in lean times. While important, it can sometimes be challenging to fill calendars with qualified appointments and leads – rejections, “ghosting,” and rescheduling cause headaches and stress. According to Abraham Thomas, Director Sales and Marketing at Intrinsic Technology Group there are five powerful tips to help you build and support your appointment pipeline, one step at a time:
- Defy the business clock.
Remember that busy business leaders and executives are often inundated with calls, meetings, and tasks during the core 9-to-5 workday span. The likelihood they’ll see and respond to your messages during this time is slim as compared to outside hour (e.g. very early in the morning or later in the evening) contact. You can immediately stand out from competitors by reaching out during these time periods when the “chatter” is considerably more quiet.
- Approach on multiple fronts.
One of the unspoken rules of advertising is to capture eyes through any reasonable means at your disposal. Major brands don’t simply toss up a billboard and call it a day – they release campaigns that fold in display, print, video, and web advertisements in the same period of time. Make it a point to follow up cold calls or emails with additional contacts through other media. If you called, send an email a few days later. If you’ve called and emailed, try sending a physical letter. The idea is to keep your offering on the forefront of their mind, and give them multiple, convenient ways to convert when they’re ready.
- Follow in the footsteps of previous contacts.
If your business has had any prior dealings with your target client, be sure to do your research. Even if the interaction wasn’t necessarily in your department, that brand-to-brand familiarity is an excellent foot in the door. Properly (read: subtly) couched, it can mean the difference between the obstacle of a “No thanks.” and a path leading through “Oh yeah, I remember that!” Resources to tap into include internal information on any visit your target has made to your website and any industry events you may have attended at the same time.
- See who you may have in common.
Referrals don’t necessarily need to take the form of long, drawn-out CC emails or official meetings. Check resources like LinkedIn to see if you have any non-competing vendors, consultants, and so on in common: this makes a great icebreaker. A person-to-person contact will open infinitely more doors than a series of cold calls to an already-busy executive.
- Take the initiative on meeting time.
Ideally, you want to position your target in such a way that the only effort they need to give is a “yes.” While open-ended language may feel more breezy and polite, it won’t turn proverbial browsers into buyers. Determine a date and time that are likely to work for your prospect and present them with it clearly and directly. “Are you available on December 15th, between 3 and 4pm?” is a straightforward question of intent, as opposed to a more passive, “So what do you think about the information?”
Whenever possible, take the lead and forge the path for your potential customers: the less they have to do to close the sale, the better. Remember: you’re providing a product and/or service they need to save them time and hassle, and doing so in the initial pitch leaves them with a good impression of what’s to come.