What if you or your team are smiling, dialing, emailing, leaving messages, working hard and yet, too few sales appointments and discovery calls are being set. What do you do.
Let me share with you my 3 step process for getting an appointment setting program on track.
Three Core Reasons For Poor Results
1. The List:
You are not interacting with enough high-value/high-probability targets. Too much of your activity is directed toward low-value no-value lower-probability targets.
If you were shooting fish in a barrel, you would not only want that barrel to have plenty of fish but for the barrel to be drained and the fish lying on the bottom. Those are good odds.
If you are working hard and not getting results, one reason could be that you have stacked the odds against yourself by allocating too much time, often way too much time, to targets that are not as valuable to you as others.
You need to do two things. Tighten the profile of your bullseye targets so that your time is invested with records that provide you with the highest probability of success. Also, be ruthless about discarding or pushing records aside that are lower value or probability or that with which you have reached the point of diminishing returns for your efforts.
Top producers are best at allocating their time where it will do the most good. Do not be like the knuckleheads who work hard with little to show for it with thoughts such as “you never know,” “there are some good prospects in here,” or “I don’t want to miss one.” Idiots.
Work Probabilities, Not Possibilities.
Be willing to let go.
One of the quickest ways you can boost results is to make a concerted effort to stop calling all the low-probability records in your prospecting pipeline. Stop calling them immediately. That creates room for you to call fresh records that are more closely aligned with your bullseye best prospect profile.
You Want To JackHammer Into A Solid Vein Of Gold,
Not Thrash Around In The Manure Pile Looking For A Few Nuggets.
If you are working hard and not getting results, the most likely culprit is that you are calling a list that is weaker than it has to be. Reevaluate your profile. Tighten your target bullseye. Get more aggressive about letting go at the point of diminishing returns. Don’t try hard to rationalize a reason to keep investing time with a record. Let go.
Get to the point where you can say to yourself “I know this is the best list I can call with the time I have. I have done the research; I am using good list sources. I am highly confident that this is the very best place to be prospecting.”
In my day I wanted to feel very confident that 85% of my activity was being invested with records that I had confirmed or had a very high degree of confidence were the best records to call. As to the rest of the records, I would only spend so much time determining if they were worthy. If after a certain amount of effort I wasn’t sure of the potential value, buh-bye record, on to the next.
Records Being “Good Enough” To Call Isn’t Good Enough
It is not sufficient for the list you are actively calling to be “good enough.” If there are better records to call, higher value or higher probability, closer to your bullseye best prospect profile, you need to be calling them. Not the ones that are just okay.
Once you are confident that your list is the best it can be, look to the other 2 factors that may be dragging you down.
2. Your Process:
If you or your team are not getting decent results, it could also be that the call process you are working to earn a conversation with or reply from your decision-maker is lousy or non-existent.
You are trying to generate the most results by working a system of interaction — a system, pre-planned well thought series of interactions purposely chosen to provide you with the best chance to meet your business goals.
There is only one best call process for you to use to set the most discovery calls. There are not 4 best systems. The best way to achieve your goal does not change with every dial, the weather, or your mood and motivation. You don’t have to work the “3 cycles of 3” system I believe in, but you do need to work a system. Your “system” will be responsible for 80% or more of your results. If you don’t have a system, or you don’t work your system consistently, or are quick to abandon it, those are very good reasons why your results are poor.
There is an activity component to your system. If you are not making enough dials on the right schedule and leaving enough touches (voicemails or emails primarily) when you should, then your results will plummet. But be careful, increasing activity levels using a poor call process is not going to solve your problem. Keep in mind that the most productive appointment setters/discovery-call setters do not make the most dials. They don’t.
If you are not getting results and you are working in a reasonable range of activity, the problem is not your activity level, it is your process.
Sorting And Ranking
There is also a sorting and ranking component to your system. Your system should enable you to identify the highest value targets so that you can spend more time with them. Even more importantly, your system enables you to identify the lowest-value and no-value targets so that you will not spend any more time with them. Time spent rolling in the garbage pile looking for something good is time you can’t spend shooting fish in a barrel that has been drained.
If you are not getting results, be honest with yourself as to whether you have a decent system and whether you are working it properly. Time and time again I run into teams that retool and start generating a greatly increased number of discovery calls only to get a call a year later. “It doesn’t seem to be working anymore. We don’t know why?”
Often it turns out that the carefully thought out call process created and proven to provide the greatest chance of call success has been completely abandoned. Not enough calls are being made. They are not being made at the right times. The required number of touches are not being delivered. Qualification, sorting, ranking by value are not being done, so a tremendous amount of time is being wasted calling sludge.
If you or your team are not getting results, do you feel confident that you have documented an outreach process that gives you the very best chance of reaching your business prospecting goals? If not, tighten it up, massage it, upgrade it, then jump right back in.
If you have a process documented, is it being worked properly? Let’s face it. The good news about prospecting is that you can figure out what to do. The bad news is that then you have to do it, again and again, and again. Sales prospecting is repetitive work. Once you discover what works you must do it over and over.
Stop Thinking and Work Your Process
There are exceptions to every rule. Crazy things happen. We deal with human beings that at times will act illogically and outside our expectations. There is a lunatic fringe element contained in any group of people we prospect and any system we use.
However, you get a huge boost in results when you are consistent with your call process. Assuming you are laser targeted on the highest probability list, eighty percent or more of results will spill out of the consistent implementation of your core process. Less than 20% of results will be generated by exceptions to the rule, randomness, shit luck, serendipity, or the lunatic fringe.
There is a strong temptation to rationalize why on any individual call or with any individual record why you can vary from your core process. Fight this.
If you are not getting results, one of the main reasons is that your call/outreach process needs to be improved. Or, if you have a good process, a reason for lack of results is that you vary from your core process too frequently. If you are finding reasons to abandon your call process too frequently, you don’t really have a process, and results will plummet.
Even Variations From Your Process Are Part Of Your Process.
Even the variations in your system, the times you drive off the road and vary from your core process, is built into your process. When you choose to vary from your core process or cut it short, you do so for consistent objective reasons. You don’t vary from your process because you are bored, that you dread saying the same thing over and over, that you can’t bring yourself to leave one more voicemail that will not be answered. Your feelings of boredom and lack of motivation have nothing to do with what works. Nothing.
A Tale From The Cube
True story. I had a client who offered a unique environment service involving meters leaking mercury into natural gas fields. As a practical matter, only the top 50-100 oil companies were reasonable targets for this service. The contracts were worth millions if not tens of million dollars. Two good callers had tried yet failed to produce results. My calling days had long been over, but I offered to work the system to determine where the problem was.
So I was calling very top executives at very, very large companies. I worked the system and did the same thing over and over. I teach the stuff, and I was bored out of my mind. The same calls, the same corporate receptionists or phone trees, the same script routines, the same emails, the same roadblocks and rejections over and over. My tedium and boredom were occasionally rudely interrupted by a top dog that said “yes.” I ended up getting my client meetings within the top levels of major oil companies. The system worked.
The drudgery of doing the same thing over and over was brutal. The temptation to skip steps or rationalize why for this call, for this company, it was okay to cut the process short was very strong. But I would think back to my early calling days when I would keep saying to myself “just work the system.” When I was bored or began to doubt myself, I would “just work the system.” When the thought of leaving that same voicemail one more time would make me want to vomit, I would “just work the system.” Don’t think about the system; work the system. I would play all sorts of mental tricks to keep me focused and working the system as efficiently as possible.
There is a time to take a step back and think about what your process should be. Most of the time you should be working that system.
If you are not getting results, it could very well be that your process needs to be improved. Or more commonly, that you are not consistently working your system.
Once you conclude that you are hitting the right targets and that your process is solid and you are working your process well, there is only one other core reason why you are not booking enough discovery calls or first sales appointments.
3. Your Messaging
If you are confident you are reaching out to the right targets, confident that your process is solid and that you are working it consistently, there is only one other key reason why you are not generating results.
Your messaging is weak.
Your verbiage is watered down.
You sound like the other idiots who have called and wasted their time.
You are not giving them reasons to listen to you just a little bit longer.
You are not communicating value and credibility worth their time.
Your verbiage is not enabling those who recognize a need and will be writing a check to you or one of your competitors within 3-15 months, to conclude that you are worth their time.
Most commonly, you are pulling your punches. You have things you could be saying that would connote credibility, value, and representative results you deliver, but you are not saying those things.
It might be because of feeling that being direct is being “too salesy,” which is ridiculous.
It might be because you have some level of personal discomfort just laying your cards on the table and letting your prospect say “yes” or “no.”
You might be afraid to be rejected, so you do mental backflips and rationalize that if you are “nice” and “not pushy” that people will listen to you longer. Wrong.
If you are confident that you are calling the right targets and that your process for calling is solid, the only other core problem is that your message is not resonating.
So you have to punch up your messaging. Be more direct. Push more value and credibility to the beginning of your pitch. Eliminate every moment and every syllable that is not communicating credibility and value to someone who has a need you can fill.
You need to get over your mental crap about being pushy, being perceived as rude, or interrupting someone. Those are your issues, not your prospects.
By choosing to prospect by phone you have already decided to interrupt people, so you need to get over that. Having decided to interrupt busy people, how are you most respectful of their time?
Do you call them up and recite verbiage and let second after second slip by without providing them information sufficient to conclude that you are worth their time? Do you fill the time between “hello” and “ we are all set” with “I know you are busy,” ”won’t take much of your time,” “do you have a minute” and “I am not worthy?” If so, you deserve everything you get.
Or, are you most respectful of your suspect’s time, a suspect you have chosen to interrupt, with a clear, direct statement as to what you do, why you are credible, the benefits delivered, and what they would get if they spent more time with you?
It takes about 30 seconds to deliver such a statement. The 15%-18% of the people you speak to who have a need will “get it” and can conclude that you are worth more of their time. Maybe a bit longer on the phone, maybe at a face to face meeting, or on a discovery call.
Those who do not have a need can also “get it” and say goodbye. That is a successful call for you, and you have minimized the interruption of your suspects time with a clear, concise, direct statement of what you do, why you are credible, and what they might get if they spent more time with you.
Just lay your cards on the table crisply, clearly, and with impact using the verbiage that most impactfully communicates your message. Roll out the big guns.
You are always nice, you are always professional, but your messaging must communicate sufficient credibility and value to achieve your business objectives when you are speaking to a qualified prospect who recognizes a need on some level and will be writing a check to your or a competitor shortly.
Value Knocks Down Doors.
Punch up your scripts so that they are clear, concise, direct and powerfully communicate your credibility and value.
Focus On The Component Parts Of The Process That Lead To Results;
Don’t Focus On The Result.
Hang in here with me on this statement. When you wish to set more discovery calls and sales appointments, don’t focus on the result. Focus on improving specific parts of the process that lead to the result.
If it is not working, do a deep dive into the component parts and each small step of your process. Focus on punching up the steps that will lead to the results you