In our last issue, we discussed how to take
the attention you got in the first
part of your initial approach call - the
"opening" - and build a powerful
"body" consisting of smart questions that
create both interest in and desire
to learn more about your offering. In
this issue - the third and last on the topic
of "Getting the Appointment" - we dig into
the final phase we introduced in that issue -
the "conclusion", or how you close on your
objective - a meeting.
Having asked a sufficient number of "pain"
questions, and getting your prospect to think
about - and voice - the consequences
of doing nothing, you're ready to go for the
goal: the meeting. So just how do we ask
for that meeting? There are a couple of
techniques you can use. Both use an
"assumptive" close - you assume a meeting is
desired, and it's just a matter of agreeing
on a mutual workable date and time. The
first method is to recommend a specific
meeting date and time, and gain agreement on
it. A better way - since your contact
will likely want to invite some of his
colleagues - is to offer a choice of days and
times. That way, when the inevitable
conflict comes up with one of his people's
calendars, he'll have a couple of alternate
dates from which to choose - all of which
work for you. The decision, then, is not
between "yes, that date and time work" and
"no, they don't," but rather, "this
best for me, but one of these others might
work better for my boss/colleague/partner.
Thanks for suggesting those, too."
Questions such as these keep you in control
process, and reduce the likelihood of an
"I'll get back to you," response. This
response - which many of us hear all too
often - is more likely if you choose the less
effective questions, "When would you like to
meet? or "When will you next be
These questions are weak, and inconsistent
with the confident approach you've taken with
the rest of your call. You started strongly,
you took control of the call with great
questions - now you're going to close
strongly with one last great question. For
"So, Tom, let me suggest a few dates and
times for us to get together - Friday at
1:00, next Tuesday at 10:30, or next Thursday
at 2:00. Which of these would
work best for you, and for anyone else you're
thinking of bringing to the meeting?"
What are Tom's possible answers?
- He picks one of your choices. "Great,
Tom. We'll see you next Tuesday at 10:30.
I'll send a confirming email as soon as I get
back to the office. By the way, is there
anyone else you need to check with before I
send that email?"
- None of those options works. "Craig,
none of those dates and times works. I'm
good on Friday and next Tuesday, but my CFO,
like to invite, is leaving for vacation
Friday, and will be gone all next
week." Is that an encouraging or
discouraging reply? Well,
discouraging in that he
didn't accept any of our suggestions. But
encouraging in that you just got a
critical piece of
information - he's wants the money man to be
in on the meeting. Your reply could be,
"Understood, Tom. You know, I picked Friday
as the earliest date because I sensed you
wanted to have a few days to consider what
we'd discussed. But if you and your CFO are
able to meet sooner - well, we're prepared to
accommodate that availability. How about
Wednesday? Or Thursday?"
- "Craig, I'm not sure I'm ready for a
meeting just yet." At this point, this
unlikely, given that you've gotten him all
worked up. Nevertheless, it's possible.
There may be all sorts of reasons why he's
reluctant to meet. Our job at this
point, then, is to determine what that
reason is, or those reasons, are. "Tom, you
just shared with me the tremendous cost of doing
nothing, and that you believed what we
offer might be a workable solution. Can you
share with me, then, why you're "not ready"
to meet?" And then use your objection-handling
skills to uncover, resolve, and help him
move beyond his concerns.
As you can see, regardless of the response
Tom gives, you have an answer that should get
meeting you want.
Take the "opening" and "body" of your initial
approach call you created in the last two
issues, and create and add to them a
"closing." Try different closings, including
one that requires you to deal with a response
you didn't expect. Practice by yourself, and
then with a colleague. When you feel you
have it 80% down pat, start trying it out on
real calls. I'm confident you'll begin to
see a significant improvement in your
call-to-initial meeting ratio, and,
your call-to-close ratio.