It is important for sales reps to have a good state of mind when attempting to get appointments with busy, important people.
First, do not take rejection (non-answering of your calls and correspondence) personally. Your target may literally get 50 plus requests a day for an appointment. This is in addition to their regular extreme workload. Your challenge is to cut through this clutter. Stay upbeat. Never get angry. Follow up, be persistent, be creative. Be patient. Be confident. Be energetic. Smile. (Yes, you can sense a smile on the phone or through the written word.)
Don’t let Fear of Failure stop you from pursuing these hard to get appointments. A failure to secure the appointment can be a learning experience for your next attempt. Keep in mind the person you are trying to get an appointment with needs, wants, and even craves new ideas and innovative products and opportunities. You just have to get their attention for the opportunity to demonstrate you are the one to satisfy one of their needs.
Here are nine specific tips that sales reps find helpful to increasing sales.
Sales Rep Tips for Getting An Appointment, Part 1
- Write a short, concise, not longer than one page letter. The shorter, the better. Describe yourself or your company and why you are credible. State how the recipient of your letter will benefit from meeting with you. Don’t exaggerate. Don’t assume you’ll never get a reply.
- Send follow-up letter if no response. Think of sending via mail, fax, and email.
- Email is the primary communications tool for many people. An advantage it offers is that the recipient usually reads it himself/herself and, thus, the gatekeeper is bypassed. When sending email, give thought to your subject line. It will be short and needs to grab the reader’s attention. State a benefit for the reader from meeting you, your service or product. A good subject line can prevent a delete.
- Networking can be the most effective way to get an appointment with that busy, important person. Find a friend or business acquaintance of your target who you know and who will vouch for you. You almost certainly will get the target to take your call (which is a major part of the battle.) Always keep your network referrer abreast of the outcome of their introduction. Always call or send a thank you note.
- When you don’t know who to contact in a company you want to do business with, writing to the president can be effective. Often, they will push the letter down to the proper person or immediate subordinates for handling. This person will often give you an appointment or contact you. They always follow up on their president’s request as they are not sure if you are friendly with him/her. Sometimes the president will send you back your letter with a handwritten note on it to contact so and so in their company. You can then call that person and say the president of the company suggested you call them. They will take your call.
- Phone for appointment. Many times you will have to get by the secretary or assistant. Try to start building a relationship with these gatekeepers. They may have more influence than you think. Try to find out a target’s cell phone number.
- Do your homework before attempting to get an appointment. Knowledge is power. Learn about the company (annual report, Internet, other vendors, trade magazines, etc.) the individual, the industry. This knowledge can help shape your approach, presentation, and ideas. It will also impress your target. People want to do business with smart people and with those who are prepared.
- In your initial phone conversation for appointment, state concisely who you are and the purpose of the call. Try to listen carefully. You want to pick up problems the target has. Be ready with some key questions to get them talking. Solving problems gets you appointments and sales.
- When you get your target on the phone, says Howard Hansen, a top insurance salesman, a good opening line might be: “Am I calling you at a bad time?” If person says, yes, he/she will suggest a better time. They will be more receptive to you then, appreciate your consideration, and the gatekeeper will more likely put the second call through, as you will say, “Mr. ___ asked me to call him today.” If your target says no, this is a good time to talk, they will be more receptive to you as they will appreciate your concern for their needs, and they will invite you to continue. Remember, trying to persuade somebody when they are occupied with something else is stacking the deck against yourself.
More tips in our next post.
Source: Bob Reiss’ book Bootstrapping 101-Tips to Build Your Business with Limited Cash and Free Outside Help.
Bob Reiss was a national manufacturers’ representative for 14 years before changing his business model and becoming a manufacturer who sold through manufacturers’ reps. He has been involved in 16 start-ups and one of his companies was named to the Inc. 500 list of America’s fastest-growing companies for three years in a row. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Business School. An army veteran, he is the author of Bootstrapping 101 — Tips to Build Your Business With Limited Cash and Free Outside Help and Sales Reps, both available now on Amazon.com. His website contains a large free blog archive of issues that confront Entrepreneurs. www.bootstrapping101.com