4 Cold Call Techniques That Help You Set Sales Appointments

man-cold-callingCold calling is part and parcel of appointment setting, but most salespeople would rather get a tetanus shot than pick up the phone and start dialing. The reason is simple: fear of rejection. No one likes rejection, yet salespeople must face it on a daily basis.

There’s a better way to make calls. These four tips will help you make outbound calls without breaking into a cold sweat. Better still, they may help you improve your call to appointment ratio.

Four Techniques for Better Appointment Setting Outbound Calls

Confidence is the key to successful appointment setting calls—a sales rep’s confidence in products or services and in their ability to persuade potential customers of their value. When your salespeople feel confident, it shines through in their voice and manner.

While it’s easy enough to educate your team on the ins and outs of your company’s product, it’s a little more difficult to teach self-confidence. The following four techniques, however, can help your team set a more confident tone— and schedule more appointments through their outbound calling efforts.

1. Create your own personal greeting.

Don’t rush into the call without greeting the prospect. Tom Hopkins, writing for Entrepreneur, states that it is better to err on the side of formality. Refer to your prospect as “Mr. Smith” or “Ms. Green” rather than “Joe” or “Ellen.”

2. Wait to introduce your product or service.

If you mention your product or service too soon, it just gives the prospect the opportunity to say, “Thanks but no thanks” or “I’m happy with what I have” and hang up on you. Instead, take time to thank the prospect for responding, and introduce your company first. “Thank you for taking my call, Mr. Smith. My name is Carl, and I’m a service representative for the XYZ Widget Company. Have you had problems finding replacement widgets?” This type of introduction keeps you on the telephone a little longer with the prospect, giving you a chance to create rapport and continue the conversation.

3. Use a client-focused script.

Instead of talking all about your company, your offer, and your benefits, salespeople should talk about how you can help your clients. People become more open when they hear something that is in their best interest. A client-focused script focuses on problem solving for your customers, and it’s more likely to get a positive reception than a speech about your products.

4. Schedule the meeting and follow up

For appointment setting calls, scheduling a meeting and follow up is essential to closing the call. Be specific, and confirm the prospect’s contact information. Send an immediate follow up to confirm the meeting arrangements.

Great Messages Increase Appointment Setting

Another trick to increasing the number of appointments that your team can make through outbound calls is to leave intriguing messages on your prospect’s voice mail. An article on Inc. magazine’s website states that messages with specific metrics increase the potential for call backs. For example, a message such as, “How would you like to improve your widget efficiency by 25%, Ms. Green? Please call me at your earliest convenience to learn more” is much more compelling than the typical plain sales message.

Before you set your team to making outbound calls, however, make sure that they have a script ready for voice mail messages. You may wish to experiment and test several versions of the voice mail script so that you can measure which one performs the best. Does a promise of improving widget efficiency work better with metrics or without? Does the offer of a free consultation work better than a free evaluation of a current service? Subtle changes in messaging often make a sizeable impact, but you won’t know what works if you don’t test and measure the results.

Setting appointments requires a unique skill set. Good salespeople have a thick skin, a drive to succeed, and a finely tuned ability to listen and shift their message according to what they hear from their prospects. With these four tips, your team may be able to set more appointments and improve their closing rate.

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