The key to scheduling appointments on the phone is THE PIVOT.  This – very simply – is the act of pivoting to the appointment.

Why is this so important?

When scheduling appointments on the phone, there are two phases. The way you deal with each is crucial.

PHASE ONE: Having a conversation.

You must grab the prospects’ attention enough to keep them on the phone five or ten seconds. Anyone who’s done phone sales understands the challenge of this concept. A good script makes this part a given.

Come across the right way with the right attitude AND have a great script.

Are you getting zero questions?  Are less than 10% of prospects showing zero interest?  Either your script is terrible, or you sound negative and depressed rather than excited and upbeat.

[Refer to my previous episodes if you need help creating a good script for telemarketers and scheduling appointments by phone. That won’t be discussed today.]

PHASE TWO: Scheduling the appointment.

The next step after the prospect expresses interest is not “yes.”  The prospect won’t say, “I’m really interested in that; I would love for you to sign me up!”  Rather, you’ll hear a question (sometimes with a negative undertone), such as:

  •   What do you mean?
  •   How does that work?
  •   Explain that to me.

When a prospect asks a question, that is a crucial moment. There are two approaches from which to choose.

#1. Answer the question. That will shift the conversation from an appointment scheduling pitch to an education pitch.

I often have sales professionals say, “I don’t know what the problem is. I’m great at this. Everyone loves me. I have great conversations with people. Everyone connects with me, but I can’t get an appointment.”

That person is trying to educate prospects rather than pivoting to the appointment. For prospects to say, “Yes. Let’s move forward,” much information is needed. However, they’re not in a mental position to talk for 5-10 minutes on a cold call.
Although they may have asked a hurried question, they’re busy and not focused on your words. You may have grabbed their attention initially. But you’ll lose them through education.

Educating gives them just enough information to tell you “no.”

BIG TIP: If you’re scheduling appointments on the phone, you’re unlikely to give enough information in that first call for them to say “yes.”

#2. Instead of education, PIVOT TO THE APPOINTMENT.

Use ANY question to pivot to the appointment.

Caller: “We have a compliant surcharge program and can eliminate the fees on your credit card processing transactions while still giving your customers a great choice. We’d love to talk to you more about that.”

Prospect: “What do you mean? How do you eliminate all the costs?”

Caller: “That is such a great question. I can tell just by you asking that this is something that could have some potential for you. Here’s what I’d like to do, with your permission, since I just called you out of the blue here. Would you be available if I was able to swing by about 1 o’clock to drop off some information for you? Then, of course, I’ll be able to answer that question for you in more detail when you’re in a position to have a little more conversation. Does that sound good to you?”

OR IF YOU’RE SCHEDULING FOR SOMEONE ELSE –

Caller: “That is such a great question, Susan. Rather than me diving into all the details on this unscheduled call when you didn’t even know I was calling (I know you have other things on your mind right now), here’s what I’d love to do, with your permission. I’m going to refer your information to Bill. Tomorrow he has some time available at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Which of those times would work better for you so he could answer that question in-depth?”

Pivot to the appointment every time. A good telemarketer understands the difference of connecting with prospects and starting to educate prospects.

You have ONLY two goals when scheduling appointments on the phone.

  • Connecting – grabbing attention.
  • Scheduling the appointment.

MINIMIZE EDUCATION / MAXIMIZE CONNECTION

Maybe a prospect says, “tell me more about it,” when the caller has barely finished the opening.  I agree you DO need a connection before pivoting and don’t want to pivot too soon.  However, realize you are ONLY making a connection. You are not educating.

When prospects request more information, have a pre-created script which will give the minimum information. For example:

“I’m sure you’ve heard there’s a lot of compliance rules – all kinds of complicated laws and regulations. The short version for you as a business owner is that it allows you to pass the cost of processing on to the consumer in a way that’s actually better for everybody. This gives consumers the power of choice, as well. With all that in mind, the only reason I was calling today is that I’d love to swing by your store, introduce myself, and drop off some free information and my business card. Ultimately, if I can save you 90% plus on your processing bill, that’s something worth a few minutes of your time to have a conversation. Wouldn’t you agree?”

Those statements are almost confusing. The caller is not trying to simplify for the purpose of educating. If the caller gives just enough information, prospects may say, “Oh, I see. You’re talking about credit card processing. We already have a provider.”

If you hear that excuse often while calling, you’re giving too much education. Your script should be general, a bit complex. Complex enough to show your company knows what they’re talking about.

As soon as you complete your opening and know prospects have enough information for you to schedule the appointment, SCHEDULE THE APPOINTMENT.

PIVOT. PIVOT. PIVOT.

Train your employees NOT to tell prospects about credit card processing.  Train them NOT to educate prospects about terminal features or the POS system.  Every time prospects ask a question, instruct your people to find a way to pivot that question!

“What a great question! I’m so glad you asked that! Rather than me diving in right now, let’s leave that to Greg. I’m going to follow up with Greg to make sure when he visits tomorrow, he’ll have a great answer for you. That way both of you will have more time. Would 1 o’clock or 4 o’clock work better for you?”

If you pivot to the appointment, you’re going to get a lot more appointments.