The goals you establish for your appointment setting efforts will drive what you do, how you select records, how you track progress, how many tests you run, how many scripts you try, how often you evaluate results, and how often you make changes.
Without clear goals, you are just madly dialing trying to book any meeting without clear direction or any ultimate benefit in mind.
Let me be absolutely clear. Activities are not goals. Bottom line results are goals. Milestones that lead to results are goals. Activities are not goals.
A good goal is to move
company revenue from $X to $Y within the next 12 months.
A good goal is to add a specific amount of margin dollars to your bottom line in the next year.
A good goal is to close 10 accounts worth at least $50,000 every quarter.
A good goal is specific, relates to the bottom line, is measurable and tied to a specific time period.
I keep hearing that prospecting is a numbers game. What are your numbers? The number that will be added to your revenue, your margin dollars, your profit?
Start there. Everything you do with your appointment setting program will have those numbers in mind.
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Dials Are Not Goals. Activities Are Not Goals.
Bottom-Line Results Are Goals.
I wince whenever I hear a caller or manager start to describe their appointment setting or discovery call goals in terms of how many dials they make a day. The number of dials to be made should not even be part of that conversation.
Understand this, this is counter intuitive, but it is the truth. There is no rational relationship between the number of dials made and the results obtained. Those who are best at setting appointments do not make the most dials. Not even close.
Programs that prioritize and measure activities, such as the number of dials made or emails sent out or records called are almost always low performing. I refer to these programs as being from the “whip them harder” school of appointment setting. As if more activity could fix that management is asking people to call unqualified lists, very inefficiently with poor CRM setup, no process, and scripts that communicate no credibility or value. I don’t care how many times you dial the phone in that situation; more dials do not help.
Over-emphasis On Activities Contributes To Low ROI
Chew on this. A consistent observation I make is that within organizations that put a priority on measuring activities, the account size tends to be smaller and accounts churn more frequently.
Why would that be? Well, when activity goals are set too high and given outsized importance, there is less time to think and make solid judgments and do things that are more likely to contribute to the bottom line goal, as management is demanding a certain number of dials. So that is what managment gets. Dials. Management is not encouraging thinking, judgment and behaviors more likely to lead to the bottom line result they need. They are getting what they demand, more dials.
It is certainly true that a caller has to be making a reasonable number of dials, but once a reasonable number of dials are being made consistently, if meetings are not popping out, more dials will not help.
I find this common over-emphasis on the number of dials and measuring dials to be insane. Part of the reason why I think it is nuts is that I see how destructive “activity” thinking is to improve bottom line results.
You Get What You Measure
If you set goals for your outreach team based upon activity, guess what you get, activity. Not the results you seek. Now your callers and your whole team work to meet the daily and weekly report numbers. If you measure dials, you will get dials. If you measure meetings, closed accounts, average account size, and profit margins, those are the things you get.
Callers Will Make Dials That Are Worthless Just To Meet The Report.
They will sacrifice efforts that are more likely to lead to new business because they know if their activity report is low, they will get yelled at. So they give the manager what is asked for, dials. Those who work in such environments are among the living dead. Just going through the motions knowing it is stupid, but that is what is required. Top performers flee such environments. The mediocre and lower performers have fewer options; they will stick around.
If you like fiction, you will love reading cold calling activity reports. The numbers can easily be manipulated to look like the right things are being done.
You Must Set The Right Goals
As a team manager, or if you are managing yourself, you must set the right goals. Everything you do should be based upon meeting bottom line goals. Meetings. Closing ratios. The average size of the sale. Profit margins. Lifetime value. Bottom line type goals.
The only thing worth tracking to get there is the number of conversations you have with targeted decision-makers, positive replies you get from emails, and returned phone calls.
Conversations with your targeted decision-maker. When a decision-maker you have targeted picks up the phone, says “hello” and you slay them with your “set the appointment pitch,” that is worth tracking as there is a rational relationship between that and the number of meetings you set — same thing with positive email responses and return calls from your effort.
If you increase the number of conversations you have, replies from emails or calls back, those milestones will directly impact your bottom line results.
You should always strive to be as efficient as you can and be as effective as possible for the time you spend prospecting, but over emphasis on activities decreases your team’s effectiveness.
When Do You Look At The Number Of Dials Made?
It is certainly true that when you have a successful caller or a successful program, there is a certain rhythm to success. Over time, if you are meeting your goals consistently, you will be able to say that your team sets X number of meetings, has Y number of conversations, Z number of positive email replies and XX number of returned phone calls. And to generate that they made XXX number of calls. You could look back to evaluate a successful program and see that rhythm.
But it is not true to start by saying if they make XXX number of calls they will be successful. It does not work that way. Because in successful programs you are not only making calls, but you are deciding who to make them to. In successful programs, you spend time determining who not to call so that you don’t waste dials. In successful programs, there will be times when you hang on the line longer or call back to get that extra recon info that will tell you whether this is an “A” value target worthy of more effort or a “D” value target worthy of little or no effort or all. You spend more time with those worth more time when larger opportunities are identified; you will spend more time with them, not necessarily more dials, but more time that will impact the goal.
As a manager, you need to set the right goals, but you also need to know what to measure to meet those bottom line goals. Is the most responsive group of targets being called? Are those targets being called with the process most calculated to get the result you seek? Are the messaging, the emails, the voicemails, communicating value and credibility sufficient for a buyer to meet? Those are the things you need to know and manage to get the result you seek.
When I am actively coaching a team, I tell them I don’t want to hear any discussion about how many times they dialed the phone. I could not care less how often a caller dials the phone — worthless info.
The only time you look at dial activity is to see whether someone is making a reasonable effort. Even then, it does not tell you the full story because a poor caller can work to the report, rather than to the result.
Set Goals For How Your Calling Efforts Are To Impact Your Bottom Line Results.
Measure meetings and
discovery calls set.
Measure the number of conversations with targeted decision-makers. (When you deliver your “set the appointment” pitch.)
Measure the number of positive responses you get to emails or replies to voicemail.
Measure the conversion of those conversations, email and voicemail replies to discovery calls and meetings set.
Measure your cost per meeting.
Measure the closing ratio of meetings set, the show rate, the average size of each sale, the profitability of each sale, and have a clear sense of their lifetime value.
Know what it costs you to set appointments and discovery calls and know what that investment is generating for you.
If it is not working, do the things that will move those numbers.
Increasing activity goals will not fix programs that are fundamentally flawed.