CRM / Contact Manager Functionality for Appointment Setting

A CRM is not a CRM is not a CRM. Especially when it comes to booking sales appointments and discovery calls. Appointment setting has some special requirements as to functionality and layout you want to be aware of. What works and might be acceptable in one sales environment is woefully inadequate when it comes to setting sales appointments.

Many times, the easy choice on day one, or the newest program, or one with the most knobs and the shiniest knobs is not the one that will enable your team to book the most appointments. If you do quick and easy up front without understanding the functionality you need to book meetings, that choice will cost you big time every day as you work your program.

The following is a short list of considerations to selecting a CRM that will add efficiency and effectiveness to your lead generation program. (At the end I will let you know my preferred program for small teams.)

Two big reasons why you must get this right.
1. Call efficiency: If you don’t pick the right tool, with the right layout, with the right customization and sorting options, it will slow your appointment setter down. If info is not organized so that “at a glance” callers can be prepared to pick up the phone and call, time is wasted. You lose opportunities and it takes more effort to get results. The good callers flee poorly setup environments as it is much harder for them get results and make money and they get frustrated with a tool that slows them down.
2. Call effectiveness: As your team smiles and dials repeatedly they need to differentiate the time wasters, from the worthy accounts from the very few that represent the largest opportunities. They need a place to note those factors which enable them to make those judgments. You as the manager and the callers need to be able to “slice and dice” or segment the list by potential value so that you can properly allocate resources. Time and money. Don’t have this capability or enough of it? You are doomed to investing a lot of time on records not worth your time. And those that are worth more than the rest? They won’t get the attention they deserve as you won’t know who they are or be able to zero in on them quickly.

Things you need in a CRM to set sales appointments.

1. A “one look and call” setup. You need your caller to pull up a record and immediately see on one page, with a glance, all they need to know to make the call. Boom.

If your callers must open 3 or 4 pages, and scroll down them no less to find info and know what has happened on this record and what to do on this call, that significantly slows things down.

2. Ability to organize the layout: Part of #1 above is having the ability to move the fields around and group the data for easy absorption and action. Example: In my preferred layout info about the contact is in one row, info regarding the company is another, and all the worth info re business needs and revenue potential is in another. Boom. Quick glance. Know what is going on. Call.

3. Ability to customize fields and dropdowns: You need the ability to add a good number of customized fields and dropdowns. You will typically need fields for worth, current vendor, criteria for clues as to potential worth or product/service used, product/service they might buy, estimated spend on items annually or by project, contract expiration dates, review dates, on and on. When you create those fields, you want to be able to create dropdowns for ease of use and consistency of labeling.

Important. Every bit of worth, or what they might buy data, or how much, must have a separate field so that you can find it, access it and sort by it. If the answer is “it’s in the notes” that is totally worthless, as you can’t access it quickly or sort by it.

4. Ability to sort by multiple fields. You want to be able to “slice and dice” or sort by pretty much any variation of multiple fields. You should be able to search for all your “A” value targets, that are left handed, in zip code range 02210-05936, where you have a decision-maker identified, a direct dial or extension number and a review date within three months.

Why is this so important. You need to prioritize.

You need to properly allocate limited resources of time and money where it will do you the most good. If you can’t segment and sort by multiple criteria of your choosing you will be working very inefficiently, resources will be squandered and it will be much harder to get results.

5. You need to use a program popular enough so that you can get training or easily find people that have used it when you need help. You can waste a lot of time setting things up, trying to customize or troubleshoot problems on your own. Assume you will need help and you want someone that has used your program in your environment. Many times, the help from the software developer is not very practical, particularly if the tool is very new. Give me tried and true every day.

6. You want to be able to get help at a reasonable cost and quickly. Questions come up. Glitches arise. Who are you going to call and how much will it cost? Select a program where you can get help where it won’t cost you an arm and a leg and there won’t be a 5-day delay every time you need assistance with something.

7. You want to be able to make basic changes yourself.

You need to think ahead in choosing a CRM for appointment setting.

I advise my clients to think ahead to when they have called hundreds, typically thousands, or if a team is involved many thousands of companies have been called. All sorts of recon and data has been collected about potential value, current vendors, products or service lines they might buy, on and on. The better programs are set up to access that info and make better decisions and properly allocate resources.

The less successful programs are stuck with trying to call faster and faster to make up for poor planning or poor infrastructure. A lousy place to work form.

If you are setting up an appointment setting program or changing tools, that setup or switch is a very big deal. If you get it wrong, you may very well be stuck with it. You may suffer, and many do, with underperforming programs or opportunities identified at a higher cost because they didn’t pick a CRM / contact manager with the right functionality.

If you pick the wrong program it may be harder to keep decent people. Prospecting and appointment setting is a job filled with repetition and drudgery. If on top of that you make it much harder for your callers to call, or add unnecessary clicking and scrolling and page bopping on top of what is already a monotonous job, the good callers will run away from you.

These posts will give you insight into what I use and expand on the above.

Why I use ACT for appointment setting B2B

B2B prospecting pro and contact management consultant opine on ACT CRM

Good luck.