A good salesperson knows the chance of closing a sale is higher when you get in front of the buyer. Sometimes this means setting up a meeting face-to-face, on the phone or via video link – especially with B2B or higher value sales.
Many people will simply ask for the appointment. And some prospects will say yes, just because you asked. Yet, I would ask how many times have we stopped to think – “Am I doing this right? Am I missing out on opportunities by the way I ask?”
Timing is important when asking for the appointment. If we ask too soon, we can come across as pushy and turn people off. Too late and we can look uninterested or lame. It's all about getting it right.
Often salespeople will ask for the meeting in their introduction. It’s far too quick especially with cold calls, when the other person doesn’t know us. We haven’t connected with them and it sends a message of desperation. One could argue it’s okay with people we do know. On these occasions, I’d certainly agree we can ask sooner, but remember to check in first and see how they are doing.
From a seller’s perspective, asking too soon can prove to be futile. We may have done our research, but we won’t know if a customer is in the market until we talk to them. Once we qualify leads, we can identify if the appointment is relevant for both parties. By taking things slower, we create better leads and the customer is more likely to say “yes” to an appointment.
How we ask is also key. I often notice people say “Can we set up a meeting?” By asking the question this way, it gives the customer the power to say “no”. So, we need to try a different way.
I like to apply the mantra of “Don’t ask permission, make suggestions” in sales. Customers like help and guidance, so my advice is to suggest an appointment using the "illusion of choice", also known as the "alternative close".
Once we have led with our closing statement, we can apply any of these statements. An example of what to say might be:
“It’s really interesting that you say…(repeat back summary points of what they tell you). Now ask for the appointment:
“I think it would be really good for us to meet up, so I can show you how X works…” OR
“It would be great to set up a meeting and I can bring you through the details of how X works…” OR
“I’m curious to learn more about how you manage X, let’s set up a meeting…”
Then suggest two options using “Tell me, how does next (Xday) or (Yday) suit you?”
By offering two options you are giving the illusion of choice as they ponder over the two days. Always say it with enthusiasm, confidence and with integrity. And remember to pause.
And if the dates don’t work, suggest two others. Ask twice, and if the dates don’t suit, be prepared to back off if the timing is not right.
Ask for the meeting about a week in advance. This way the other person’s diary is more likely to be free. You also give the impression you are busy and in demand. That said, there will always be an exception when you have a really hot lead and need to meet sooner - so listen to their reaction.
Finally, remember to email or text the other person with the details agreed offering to invite others where there are several people involved in making the decision.