Increase Your Telephone Appointment Closing Ratio

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Oct 26, 2023 by Sean Luce

In the early morning, most sales departments are abuzz with reps on the phone setting up appointments with prospects. I often hear the proverbial, "I'd like to come over and talk to you about advertising." Inevitably, I also hear, "We have something special that you might like to see coming up for Father's Day." These techniques endure despite their meager 5 percent closing ratio.


Here are some of the worst responses you may hear from prospects.
- "Don't ever call me again.You got that? I never want to hear from you again."
- "Who the heck are you?"
- "Why don't you take a flying leap, pal!"
- "You salespeople are all alike, a bunch of nitwits. Stop bothering me!"

But if you follow the steps delineated below, you'll be setting up appointments with a 70 percent closing ratio.


1. Introduce yourself and ask for the prospect by first name. Don't ask for the "market director" or "GM." This is very impersonal; from your research, you should already know his or her first name. Once you get the decision-maker on the phone (see "The Dos And Don'ts Of Telephone Etiquette: Part 1," Radio
Ink, June 5, 2006), try something like this: "Mr. Hahn, this is Sean Luce with Name Of Your Company." During the call, pause, smile, and stay relaxed - and stand up, don't sit down at your desk.

2. Purpose in calling/credibility statement: There are two ways to establish your credibility and purpose statement. One is to explain the research you have done on their business. "Mr. Hahn, I had the opportunity to walk through your furniture store last Tuesday afternoon. I spoke with one of your sales reps, Christy,
who seemed very knowledgeable. I noticed some things inside your store that I may be able to help you with. I have some expertise in moving people through retail stores, and I'd like to share my observations, as well as learn a little more about your business." The second opening is to use a benefit statement such as,"We have worked with many retail stores and have been successful moving potential customers through the doors. During the past few months, we have worked with use some examples of successful stories where your station has increased traffic. Perhaps we can do the same for you. I need 20 minutes to determine if there is an opportunity to help with your business?s marketing strategy."

3.Trigger the buying motive: Ask one question that you know will have a positive response based on your in-store research. For example: "Is increasing the electronics part of your operation important to you?" Make sure you never ask a closed-ended question unless you know the answer. The information on electronics should have come from your discussion with Christy during your store visit.

4.Trial close: "Good, I need 20 minutes. I will be in your area on Friday."

5. Contact concerns and objections: No matter how prepared you are, and even if you have already identified a need, you are still likely to encounter objections.

How would you respond to the following?
- "I'm not interested in buying anything."
- "I'm happy with my current advertising."
- "Tell me over the phone/send the information by mail."
- "I don't have the time."

All objections can be answered by sticking to the reason for your call: to gain 20 minutes of their time to undergo a process that will benefit them by determining the potential for garnering increased prospects to their business (or whatever your pre-call research revealed that you could help them with). It's also important to note that, on this first call, which will determine if there is a match or fit with your radio stations, you will not be selling air-time - and it will be the most beneficial 20 minutes they've ever spent with anyone in marketing. You must truly have that confidence in yourself and your product.

6. Confirm the next step: Once they have said yes, establish a time to meet. As I said in part one of this column, only use 10, 20, 40, or 50 minutes after the hour. This sticks in the prospect's mind. Confirm location and directions if necessary. Thank them by saying, "I look forward to meeting with you." Be sure to let the prospect hang up first.You don't want to convey the message that you are in a hurry, anxious, or happy to get the call over with.

Send your confirmation note immediately, so they receive it a day or two before the appointment. This cuts down on noshows and lets the prospects know you are serious about what you are doing. If they receive a confirmation/thank you note, there is an obligation to meet with you, or at least schedule an appointment when they know they will be there.

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