How To Set Appointments Over The Phone?

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

call process illustration
While setting appointments over the telephone seems to be becoming increasingly difficult, the need and importance of being able to pick up the phone and set quality appointments remains high. Yes, there are now many alternative prospecting avenues available to the astute sales person. However, in most sales processes, cold or warm, you still have to make a call.

How can you set appointments over the phone? What can you do to achieve this goal while still being professional?

Here are three very powerful, yet extremely simple tips to keep in mind when you pick up that phone to start your sales call to make an appointment.

#1. Do Not Sell Your Product or Service

I know it seems obvious that when you call to set an appointment, you are not calling to try to make the sale over the telephone. However, most sales people fall into the trap of selling the product or service in the process.

Remember, you are selling the appointment, not the product.

While attempting to set an appointment, the prospect objects. The problem is that usually the objection is a “buying” objection. The prospect says something like, “I can’t afford your product or service right now…,” or “I am happy with my current supplier…” or something of that sort. Those are objections to making a purchase, and the normal response is to answer and try to overcome such objections.

When this happens, the prospect is objecting to BUYING and the sales person is trying to CLOSE. Think about that. Why on earth are you trying to close the sale at this stage of the sales process? You are trying to sell the appointment.

Neither you nor the prospect should even be thinking about making a buying decision at this point! Be careful not to fall into that trap. Instead, help the prospect understand that you are not asking for a buying decision; you are not asking for their business. All you want is a meeting and focus on that.

Remember; you are setting the appointment, not the sale.

#2. Build the Value of the Appointment Itself

When setting appointments over the phone, you should be focusing on just setting the appointment only. In other words, you need to SELL the appointment ONLY.

That is, sell the value of the meeting on its own merits. When setting an appointment on the phone, often the prospect feels that to meet with you will be a waste of their time if they do not believe they will buy; and since they have not yet seen your sales presentation, that is only natural.

Therefore, you need to help the prospect understand that they receive VALUE, they get some return on their investment of time, just to meet with you, regardless of if they choose to buy what you are selling or not. Figure out the reasons how the prospect benefits just by talking to you, and sell those benefits. The selling of the appointment on the phone can achieve this.

#3. Alternate of Choice

Finally, in setting the appointment on the phone, use a strong ‘alternate of choice’ close. Give the prospect two choices and narrow down the parameters.

“So Sarah, are mornings good for you to talk for a few minutes, or are the afternoons more convenient?”

“Paul, I can meet with you next Thursday sometime, or would a Monday be better?”

“Sean, we can get together Friday at 4:00 pm, or would Monday morning be easier with your schedule?”

Don’t try to sell the product or service or you will receive the “I’m not interested” sales objection. Instead, just sell the appointment. On the phone, the appointment is the product they are buying. Build the value of that appointment on its own merits. Use the old, but reliable alternate of choice close and you will set more appointments!

Making appointments over the phone can be difficult enough these days. By following the above ideas, you increase your chances, but only if you remember exactly what you are selling on the phone; the appointment!

If you’re still itching to learn more, then check out our Face to Face Telesales Training. Alternatively, try out our range of other Sales Training solutions which include both offline and online options to help you further. 

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training

Sales DNA

Originally published: 30 April, 2019

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