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If you can't make an appointment with a prospective buyer, you are less likely to sell that buyer.
Master the Art of Appointment Making and you Master the Art of Selling.
Read on . . .
If you can't make an appointment with a prospective buyer, you are less likely to sell that buyer.
Master the Art of Appointment Making and you Master the Art of Selling.
Read on . . .

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Published by: 16050881 on Sep 05, 2008
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Sales are down, profits are off, commissions and earnings are lagging behind where they should be, the year is rapidly running down, and the heat is on . . . you’re running out of time! You know that the only way to increase sales and earning is to get in front of more prospects and customers more often. So, you decide to work harder to make more appointments. But where do you start? And how do you get there? Read on. Just read on and you’ll be fine . . . in fact, you’ll be better than fine.

First sell the appointment, then you can sell yourself, your company, and your products and services. In the unlikely event you’re not already aware of this scary fact, we’d like to let you know that appointment-making is an art unto itself, an art that requires preparation, focus, and, very often, lots of thick skin! Your company may already have telemarketing people who make appointments for you. If not, if you’re like the majority of Sales Players who make their own appointments, you can take advantage of the opportunity to combine appointment-making with prospective customer research. The benefit for you is this: The research process gives you an early opportunity to build relationships with key people in prospects’ organizations. If you aren’t able to set up an appointment during the research process, use direct mail and Email marketing to create interest so the prospective customer will want to meet with you. We recommend that you send a cover letter to let the prospect know you’re interested enough to have researched his or her company. Include pertinent literature for the products you think you might quote, recognizing that after you’ve toured the facility and understand how things actually operate, you may recommend something entirely different. Never send out any direct mail piece, requested or not, without including a list of current References. People do not like to do business with people they don’t know . . . so why not let prospective customers know something about who you are before they invite you in? How do you get past gatekeepers – you know, those receptionists, secretaries, and administrative assistants who “protect” the boss from pesky salespeople? Well, you start by

convincing the gatekeeper that a meeting with you would be good for the boss (which would be good for the gatekeeper as well). Whether you do this over the phone or by sending direct mail, or both, is something you determine by your take on which approach is likely to work best with each individual person. This is why your research is so important. You have to come up with a compelling reason, an interesting reason, and an urgent reason for your meeting; you can no longer rely on the old standards, “We’re better” or “We’re cheaper”. Isn’t everybody “better” and “cheaper” than everybody else? Aren’t you? So what? Better and cheaper simply is not good enough any more! If you’re fortunate enough to be routed through to a decision-maker, be ready to present a compelling reason to meet. Given what you’ve learned about a prospective customer, ask yourself the obvious question: If you were the person you are trying to contact, what would make you want to meet with you? The quality of the first step is critical to your ability to get the appointment. Experience over three decades with thousands of sales under our belts has taught us that the best first step breaks down like this: • • • • • • • • Call to find out who the appropriate financial and operational decision-makers may be (could be the same person, depending upon the size of the company) If your call is intercepted by a gatekeeper, find out what the gatekeeper’s role is with the company and get a reading on that person’s role, personality, and relationship to the appropriate decision-maker Unless you’re Denzel Washington or Julia Roberts, don’t use a script. People will see right through you. Remember, nobody wants to waste time with some poor yokel who can’t even speak for himself Be yourself . . . Remember, selling is about building honest relationships and you can’t do that if people never get to know the real you Smile – sincerely - with your words and your tone. If you don’t smile, the person on the other end of the line will see right through you. If you’re not up to smiling, stay off the phone until you are ready Be professional, enthusiastic, and straight-forward. Communicate the fact that you are proud of yourself, your company, your products and services Don’t be afraid to ask for the appointment, but never ever force the issue. Don’t bother with the so-called alternative close (“What’s better for you, Monday morning or Wednesday afternoon?”). Recognize that this person may have been inundated with that line a dozen times during the week before you called . . . just pick a day and time that works for you and let the prospect respond If the prospect is willing to meet with you, be generous. Just ask when would be most convenient and let nature take its course

OK, you’re going in . . . terrific . . . congratulations! But, don’t waste any time patting yourself on the back! Use your time to prepare to get the most out of the appointment. Again, like any step in the sales process, think this one through, visualize yourself on the field, making the play, running for extra yardage, accomplishing specific goals. • • • Take charge . . . if the prospect or customer isn’t adamant about a time limit, you decide how long the meeting should last and who should be in attendance Gather any additional information you might need Make sure you are completely prepared for the meeting with: o o o o o Your company’s capabilities brochure Special Lease Rates or Discount Financing Opportunities Application-specific Literature (Specifications & Product Brochures) Notepad, PDA or Electronic Notebook Two Pens (1 backup)

o o o •

Plenty of Business Cards Tape Measure Electronic Calculator

Confirm your appointment by phone twenty-four hours in advance; If the prospect or customer has to postpone your meeting, ask for specific day, date, and time before you hang up

Alright, you’re FINALLY there . . . inside the customer’s office, smiling, chit-chatting, thinking, sitting across from at least one decision-maker. So, what do you do now? You’ve worked hard to get here . . . wouldn’t it be a shame to waste all your time and effort to date? Sure would! So, here’s how to get the most out of the appointment: • First things first . . . as we said earlier, people buy from people they like and trust. So, use your first appointment to establish a personal rapport with decisionmakers and their colleagues. Build credibility and trust with honest talk about you, your company, and your product lines. Don’t bother to stroke customers with your “perfect” profile. We all know you ain’t perfect, so don’t try to make anyone think you are! They’ll see right through you, so don’t sell yourself – and your prospective customer – short! Learn as much as you can about your prospect’s business, concerns, shipping volumes, warehousing issues, and service problems. Be honest with your questions. If the customer has competitive products, don’t ask left-handed questions to try and draw out complaints about the competition. Don’t try to ingratiate yourself with a prospective customer by bad-mouthing competitors; it never works. Be supportive of your competitors, but do it in very general terms. You don’t want to trap yourself by praising a competitor who may have caused major troubles for the prospect. Be proactive: Fill-in any gaps that might exist in your research by asking for a tour of any and all areas where the products you sell operate or may be serviced. Note the numbers, types, and condition of any and all items no matter how much – or how little – they may be used. Find out who performs service and ask whether the customer is satisfied with that service. Learn everything you can about decision-makers. What are their short-term goals? Long-term goals? Which is more important? Total cost? Customer service? What about your contacts? Are you dealing with someone who could be on the way to retirement in the near future? If so, who’s the heir apparent? Find out how the buying process works. Who are the people involved in equipment acquisitions? Does the company purchase or lease? Do they have their own financing and/or leasing sources? How do existing suppliers fit in to any new acquisition? Are existing products on lease? If so, when do these leases expire? Are existing products purchased? Does the customer have any expectation of specific trade values (i.e. have trades been appraised by a competitor?). Be quick to objectively analyze the customer’s situation and respond to that situation, honestly and openly. If, for example, the customer doesn’t need to buy now, be upfront about that fact. The customer will appreciate your honesty and will look at you as quite a unique salesperson . . . one who is honest enough to put the needs of the customer ahead of self-interests! If, on the other hand, you do see a legitimate need, don’t hesitate to talk about it and be prepared to defend your position if necessary. Commit to the next step. If there is no immediate sales opportunity, accept that reality and let the prospective customer know that you’ll be ready, willing, and able to help answer any future issues or questions that may come up. Let your contact know that you’ll “check-in” within thirty days to follow-up on any future requirement. If, on the other hand, there is an immediate sales opportunity,

commit to provide a written quotation within a specific time frame and keep your commitment, no matter what!

This is where the rubber meets the road. How will you present your quote to the customer so you can turn the quote into a signed order? Think it’s premature to be talking about an order on the 4th step? We don’t think so. It all gets down to the old time and money bit . . . what is it, now? Oh, yeah - time is money! So, don’t waste any of either. We recommend you proceed with the 4th step like this: • Prepare a professional appearing quotation on a pre-printed form with company logo, address, phone and FAX numbers. Include customer contact name, exact legal company name, street address, city, state, and zip code, phone and fax numbers, plus Email addresses. Describe the Product in detail. Customers deserve to know exactly what they are buying. Define benefits, features, and specifications. Be sure to include color photographs in or with your quotation. Make it clear that your selling price is plus applicable taxes. Clearly indicate that cash terms and leasing or financing terms are “subject to credit approval”. Let the customer know lead time in a range of weeks. Be sure to include the phrase, “subject to prior sale” for the inevitable day there’s only one unit in stock or the last one on an incoming truck from the factory is sold out from under you. Call to make an appointment so you can deliver the quote to the prospective customer for review and approval at the earliest convenient time. Avoid sending quotations by Email, FAX or snail mail. The way you present a quote can cheapen you, your product, and your company in the customer’s eyes. Your best opportunity to sell value rather than price comes when you present a quote in person. So, why not take advantage of the opportunity at every opportunity? If you have wiggle-room in pricing or terms, know precisely what your negotiating parameters are before you head out to meet the customer. Take charge of the Quote Presentation by making sure you have can close the deal when the numbers fit your parameters. If your customer says, “Knock off a thousand bucks and we have a deal,” you want to respond with two simple words: “Sign here!” Answer any and all questions your customer might have . . . remember, when you answer questions, you are really answering objections, so encourage that dialogue. If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t wing it . . . again, be honest and let the customer know that you will come back with an answer as quickly as possible - then do it! Ask for the order! We won’t lecture you on how many people in our business fail to ask for the order . . . but, as you well know, there are literally thousands upon thousands of sales people out in their territories, day in and day out, who are simply too afraid to hear the wrong answer, so they don’t ask! And, guess what? The person who doesn’t ask for orders doesn’t get orders!

• •

The sales game is a numbers game. The more prospects and customers you get in front of, the more you sell. Speed up the appointment making process and you make things better for everyone; prospects, customers, your company, and you. Follow the steps we’ve outlined here just as we’ve laid them out, and you’ll double the number of appointments you can make while you increase sales by at least fifty percent. How do we know? Because we’ve followed these steps for more than thirty years and they’ve never failed to get appointments and create more sales . . . now, it’s your turn!

If you have questions, comments, or concerns, Email me at LTDAssociates@msn.com (goes right to my desk) and since I personally answer every Email, I look forward to hearing from you soon. Copyright © 2008 l.t. Dravis. All rights reserved. l.t. Dravis is the author of the nationally distributed Sales & Marketing newsletter, BOTH SIDES NOW, since 2003, and has written two books: BOTH SIDES NOW, Sell Like Professional Athletes Win, and DEATH OF A SALES MANAGER. In 2008, l.t. introduced a daily column for national syndication. For more information, click on http://www.bothsidesnow.biz

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