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Sales Solutions
Getting the Appointment - Part 2 vol 4, issue #3
March, 2007

In our last issue, we discussed the first challenge we face in trying to secure a meeting with a prospect – crafting and delivering an initial approach call that dissuades him from blowing you off, while at the same time entices him to want to learn more. In this month’s issue, we look at what to do with this hard-earned victory – how to take it to the next step and build the case for a meeting.

Many of you are familiar with the acronym A.I.D.A. – Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. This is a simplification of the steps needed to take a disinterested prospect from approach to close. With your direct and disarming initial approach, you’ve already gotten to the first “A” – you grabbed your prospect’s attention. But is that enough? How many times have you gotten prospects interested, then spent the next two weeks chasing them? Where did that interest go? It waned, because you didn’t take it to the next step - transforming that interest into desire. Desire so strong that the tables turn, so that the prospect is asking you when you’re available for a meeting.

How do you do this? You do it by asking questions. Questions that help you understand his current situation, his desired situation, and how big the gap is between the two. Questions that get him thinking about the consequences of doing nothing, and how wonderful things will be once he’s using your product or service. As he’s answering your questions, you’re listening with one thought in mind – is the gap between what this person’s current situation is and what he wants it to be big enough that he’ll want to invest time and money to bridge it? If not, what questions can I ask to lengthen that gap – to make deciding to do nothing more painful for him than deciding to do something? When you get your prospect to that point, it’s only natural for him to be eager to learn what you can do for him – and how. Simply recommend a meeting date and time, and gain agreement on them.

But what if – as is often the case – your prospect isn’t so cooperative, isn’t willing to answer all your questions? You need a fallback position. And that fallback position is to simply and directly ask for a brief – and I do mean brief - meeting. A 15-20 minute meeting. What could you possibly accomplish in such a short meeting? You guessed it. To do what you didn’t get the opportunity to do on the phone – get your prospect excited about moving forward. From there, you can more easily schedule a normal length meeting, only this time it will be with additional members of the decision-making process team.

Why specify a 15-20 minute meeting, and not just “a” meeting? Think about it: Why are most prospects reluctant to meet with you at all? It’s not necessarily because they don’t believe what you’re offering can help them (though many do, understandably, harbor a healthy skepticism). It’s because they’ll expect to have to give up one of their most precious, limited resources – time - by agreeing to meet with you. And that expectation – based on experience – is that you’re going to eat up at least an hour of their time, probably more. Who wants to commit that kind of time to meet with someone whose product you’re not even sure you need? I wouldn’t. But if all you ask for is 15 minutes, few people will argue with that, especially if you emphasize you’ll stick to those 15 minutes. Of course, your expectation is that as you pack up your bags at the 15-minute mark, you’ll have created such great desire for your product or service that prospect won’t let you go, and you'll get the time need to conduct a proper meeting.


Action Item:

Make a list of a half dozen or so questions you could ask to get your prospects thinking about how sub-optimal their current situations are, and what they’d like it to ideally be. Practice using these in a role play with your manager or with your peers. Also work on transitioning to your fallback position in case the prospect doesn’t “bite.” Do this several times, then put it to work with a real prospect. I assure you you’re appointment-to-call ratio will head north – in a hurry - and you'll find yourself closing more business, faster.



Good Selling!



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