What's in your pipeline?​​​​​

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JTI Featured in New Business Minnesota Magazine: 

​Drive Sales with 

Appointment​ ​

Setting​​

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By Jody Weinberg

J. Teleconnections

 

It doesn't take long for owners of new businesses to find out they can't do everything.  They'll try it until  the desire to save money is overtaken by the necessity of bringing in more revenue.

For most entrepreneurs, increasing sales and prospecting are their greatest weaknesses. They know how to be an expert in what they know.

Cold calling – picking up the phone and getting a meeting – is outside their skill set and their natural comfort zone. They are fine when doing the complex, solution-focused sale for their product or service, representing their company, but they fail at the daily discipline of finding leads and getting in front of sol- id, qualified prospects.

That's where professional B2B ap- pointment schedulers like J. Telecon- nections come in. When entrepreneurs

are  planning  their  week,  they  feel more productive knowing they have solid  appointments  coming  up  that will grow the business. They can see their  sales  pipeline  is  full  and  the closing rate increases because they are pitching to strong prospects.

Selling is a process with a beginning,  middle  and  end.  We focus  on  the  beginning.  That's where  leads  are  generated  and initial meetings are set. Quality appointments are what fill your sales pipeline and increase your revenue.   Neglect   that   pipeline and your sales will slow to a trickle.

Faced with just that situation, a potential client, a consultant, was hesitant to try appointment scheduling because of a bad experience with a telemarketer. He gave us a 90-day trial and if it didn't work he'd never use "telemarketing" again.

His was concerned we'd have high call volume that would bring in unqualified leads and meetings with weak pros- pects, thus annoying people while using his company's name, or worse, misrep- resenting the company.

I assured him of our professional ap- proach. We quickly build enough trust with prospects, highlight meaningful information, qualify and establish in- terest prior to a scheduling a meeting. We  aren't  selling  anything.  We  get  an

appointment using a strong value propo- sition that reveals they are open to learning more.

Even after I told the consultant all of this he remained skeptical. Well, the 90 day trial ended 11 years ago and we con- tinue to do ongoing prospecting for him, getting solid meetings with qualified decision makers. And he closes them.  In fact his business has grown 500 percent due to joint efforts. You don't get results like this by smiling and dialing, trying to rack up appointments and meet a quota.

Targeting and Scripting

To ensure that we are calling the right audience, we work with our clients to select key demographics, such as company revenue, geography, number of employees, job title, etc. This leads us to custom- ized lists we purchase and  work  from. We also work with their in-house lists.

Then I'll sit down with the owner to start creating the script. The process includes getting the owner's  biography, what the business does, size of the company, years in business, what makes them stand out as a business and why people should do business with them.

As we prepare the script we continually consult with the client to refine and revise it. Even after the script is adopted and put into use, we never stop trying to improve it. Our goal is a long term relationship and we want to be able to pitch in our sleep.

If we don’t think we can be successful with a prospective client, we won’t take their money. So there are a number of steps we go through before we decide to

take them on. If it turns out that it's not a fit or if they don't really need the type of business development we offer, then we refer them elsewhere. Sometimes a call center is the best solution for them.

Common Mistakes

  • Owners expect their sales people to set appointments. Sales people are wired to sell complex solutions with intelli- gence. Appointment Setters are a differ- ent breed that are just wired differently. If they spend six hours on the phone to get one quality appointment, they get all jazzed. Sales people would go crazy.
  • Do it yourselfers. They almost always fail to set up the time needed and stick to the plan. Owners will face distractions from current customers and referrals and the demands of their business. They will lose focus, procrastinate and do any- thing other than make the calls.
  • Word of mouth is sufficient. While word of mouth is valuable, it can slow down or even fade away. Trying to revive sales means you're probably not doing what you do best. For most, that's not ap- pointment setting. You can only spread yourself so thin.
  • Expecting technology alone to fill your fill  your  pipeline.  Google  ads, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and eblasts are all good, but you have to have the follow up. They don't work their magic all by themselves.

Not knowing the difference between Telemarketing and Business Develop- ment appointment scheduling. Each has its place. I've seen companies waste a lot of money using the wrong tool and failing to get the results they wanted. The best professional appointment setters have strong sales or telesales experience. They are seasoned and know how to get past the gatekeepers to reach the Deci- sion Makers, C-level Executives, Direc- tors or Vice Presidents.

Benefits

  • Time to do what owners do best: close deals, service customers, network and build their business.
  • We schedule our setters to work a few hours a day, at least three, to ensure they are fresh and productive. They are "professionally persistent," which means they doggedly pursue difficult-to-reach executives without scaring them away.
  • Generating quality contact lists that are regularly updated. We have alliances with a number of list companies that get us discounts. We're very experienced at what kind of list you need based on your industry and your target audience. As we call, we clean the lists with updated con- tact information. If the decision maker is no longer there, we find out who it is. We confirm address, decision maker, title.
  • Accountability is important. Busi- ness owners are skeptical. They are afraid they won't get the desired result. We have reports and ongoing conference calls to ensure the client is getting their ROI. We find they are comfortable with the initial trial period where scripts and lists are tested, and goals are set for appointments per hour of calling.
  • Setters work smart. They know the best time to call, even by titles and indus- tries. Sometimes executives will be there at 7 a.m. other times at 7 p.m. Callers have to have some skin in the game to make it work.

Conclusion

It sounds wonderful to say that  you give your business 110 percent of your time. The reality is time doesn't compress that way anymore than you can cram 13 eggs into a carton. An appointment set- ter might be the right solution to help you reach your sales goals, freeing you to handle the other important parts of your business.

Reprinted with Permission Courtesy of New Business Minnesota ©2012 www.newbizminn.com

Full issue here:

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