I think it’s pretty safe to say that most people don’t like cold calling a total stranger.  The reality is if you want to sell you have to first get the decision-maker to book a meeting with you. And as a salesperson you know, this is by far easier said than done.

You probably make countless calls a day, hoping and praying that one of your prospects picks up and that you actually get to have a conversation. Finally, someone picks up – and what do they say?

“I’m busy – call me back later”.

“Can you send me some information?” Knowing all too well that they won’t look at it.

Or worse…

“Is this a sales call?” *CLICK*

You don’t even get the chance to share your value proposition before the call abruptly ended! Back to square one – and the chase begins again…

Here’s the good news, I have a three-step process (that’s proven) to increase your chances of setting more appointments.

Those three steps are: disarm your prospect, state your purpose, and lock in the appointment with a specific question.

Disarm Your Prospect

The reality is, your prospect is busy. By acknowledging this fact upfront you are getting them to lower their guard.

Here’s an example of how you might do that: 

“Hi, this is James Ashford with ABC Company – I am sure that I caught you in the middle of something, thanks for picking up.”

It’s important that you always introduce yourself. Have you ever received a call and don’t share their name right away? When that happens you probably automatically raise your guard and get naturally suspicious.

State Your Purpose

Let’s be clear – the goal in your conversation is to get an appointment set with your prospect. Believe it or not, it’s worth stating this fact because you might find it quite shocking that most salespeople don’t actually ask for the appointment!

After disarming your prospect you want to roll right into the purpose of your call.

“The reason I am calling today is that I’d like to get 20 – 30 minutes of your time to discuss how I can [INSERT YOUR VALUE PROPOSITION HERE].”

I’ve seen many salespeople ask for “just 5 – 10 minutes” and what they are doing when they do that is saying (without speaking those words) is “this conversation is not important”. And worse, you know that it’s going to take more than 5 – 10 minutes and now you have lied to your prospect!

Being open and honest is the best practice when starting a new relationship with your prospect.

Lock in the Appointment with a Question

“Would Tuesday at 10 am or Wednesday at 2 pm be best for you?”

The key here is that if you ask the question most people will feel obligated to answer it.

You might be thinking – “Isn’t that a bit forward?”. Yes, it is. Think about it, only a couple of things could come from this simple script:

  1. Best case scenario, your prospect chooses a day and time you’ve offered. Congrats – you’ve locked down an appointment!
  2. Your prospect asks you for more information. Congrats – you have now opened up a communication loop! That means that you have a chance to carry on with the conversation. That sure beats you getting shut down before you even get started!

What to do once the Communication Loop is Opened

If your prospect asks for more information you want to make sure you are prepared to engage and elevate their level of interest. How do you do that? Prepare your responses to the most common questions.

If they say, “What is this about?”.

“I would love to schedule a time with you where we can discuss your employee benefits. What’s the best way to schedule a time on your calendar?”

If they say, “I’m happy with my current plan”.

“That’s great to hear! If you don’t mind me asking, what do you love most about your current provider/plan?”

One thing that you may notice is that when addressing your prospect’s questions you want to lead your response with a statement and then end with a question. Asking questions allows you to keep the conversation loop open so that you can continue to learn more about your prospect and lead them to a scheduled appointment.

If they say, “I’m busy, can you call me back”. 

“I sure can call you back, but if you are like most employers that I work with it’s likely that you have a full schedule every day. If you are open to having me call back that must mean that you are considering other options for your employee benefits. Rather than playing phone tag trying to catch you, I’ll shoot you a calendar invite for [INSERT DAY] at [TIME]. If that day and time don’t work for you let me know and I’d be happy to move it.”

Does this work?

The simple answer is – yes.

Here’s the deal…

If you are cold calling now and not getting results what do you have to lose by trying something different?

My recommendation is to use my three-step process and see what happens. You’ve got nothing to lose – only appointments to schedule!

I’d love to hear how this works for you. Be sure to keep me updated.

Are you a Partner of VCD? If not, I’d like to invite you to join Don Railsback, CEO of VCD on a live webinar this Friday at 9:30 am CST to learn how you can get more marketing and sales training for FREE as one of the many benefits our Partner Program has to offer.

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