The Best Ways to Get Sales Appointments

cold calling
Cold call for the appointment.

Possibly the most common rookie salesperson mistake is trying to sell their product during the initial cold call. When you pick up the phone and start cold calling, or walk into a neighborhood and start knocking on doors, the goal should be to get an appointment with the decision maker. Once you're at the actual appointment, you can start pitching the product... but in your first contact with your prospects, the only thing you should be pitching is an appointment at which you can do the real selling.

Should you run into the rare situation where you happen to call a cold lead who's willing to buy on the spot, then congratulations! For everyone else, try using the below approach.

  1. Do Your Research: The more information you have about the person you're calling, the more likely you are to close them on an appointment. Sometimes all you have to go on is a name and phone number. In that case, remember that Google is your friend. Social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn can also be great resources. You can even check with your network contacts to see if you know anyone who knows the prospect.
  2. Craft an Opener: Once your prospect answers the phone, you've got about 10-20 seconds to catch their interest. Most people go into automatic rejection mode as soon as they realize you're trying to sell them something. If you can create an opener that surprises or intrigues them enough, you can break through that rejection filter and get them interested enough to agree to an appointment or at least hear you out.
  1. Pick a Benefit: This is where your research really pays off. The more information you have about the prospect, the better you can match your pitch to their needs. Pick whatever benefit you think will most interest your prospect and give a one or two sentence explanation of how your product provides that benefit. For example, if you have a list of leads who've suffered from identity theft, you might say, “Our bill management system gives you peace of mind. It protects you by securely managing your financial information and keeps you safe from identity theft.”
  1. Assume the Appointment: Here's where you close them on the appointment. There are varying schools of thought on how to close a cold call. Some experts say to give a choice of times: “Do you prefer to meet on Tuesday at 10 or Wednesday at 2?” Others say to pick one specific time: “I can meet with you Monday at 11:30. Does that work for you?” Experiment and see which works best for you. If the prospect says no, you can then name another date and time rather than assuming he's turning you down entirely.
  2. Don't Give Up: Many prospects will refuse to meet with you. Don't take this attitude to heart, as it could have nothing to do with you (for all you know, that person may just be having a really bad day or ​may be in a hurry to get to an important meeting). Move the prospect's name to another list and try them again in a few days or weeks, using a different approach. Most sales experts say that you should keep trying until the prospect says “no” three times.