Over the years, I’ve noticed a commonly held belief that most sales appointments get booked in one phone call – a one call close. That’s the myth. It would be wonderful if all appointments got booked in one call. That’s the ideal. The reality is that a lot of detail is going on behind the scenes.
It is good to hold a vision, an ideal for which to strive. Vince Lombardi said “perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.” That’s the plan.
So, what stands between us and the one call close? In the process of identifying, qualifying and scheduling, a lot of tedious transactions are going on with the calls and with the list. Let’s jump ahead for purposes of this article to the point at which we have identified the decision maker, reached the decision maker and qualified the company and prospect. Chances are that many calls and digging went into making that happen, not just one call. However, once we have reached the point of speaking with a qualified decision maker, the roadblocks then fall into three basic categories, the timing, the prospects or the appointment setter.
The timing. “Hey, it’s amazing that you called. Are you psychic? Your timing is perfect.” We all love to hear when the stars line up like that, and speaking of a one call close, that type of call should be one for the books. In the magical moment of a call like that, it feels like we are in alignment with the cosmic forces and of course we will take all the luck we can get, however, the reality also is that hard work and 200 dials tends to make the stars line up more often.
Depending on the product or service we are calling about, the company may be in a contract. Contract terms vary but let’s say the contract just started for a three-year term. Unless the company is unhappy, the timing is probably not right for either the prospect or the appointment setter to want to set an appointment. Another scenario might be an annual renewal date. If the company just renewed a month ago, the timing is probably not right. Perhaps the company is planning a move but not for a couple of years. Perhaps the rebranding is just in the initial stages.
There are endless scenarios in which a matter of timing is standing in between us and scheduling a sales appointment. Sometimes, it doesn’t make sense to schedule an appointment because of timing. Over time, building a smart list by assigning accurate recall dates and keeping good notes will help the appointment setter work smarter, but keep in mind that no list is ever really perfect. Decision makers change, conditions within the company change, and lately even the world changes to throw some interesting curve balls. Like the laundry at home, it’s never really done because the socks have to be washed again tomorrow.
Maintenance is not that glamorous, but it is part of the job, and attention to detail does pay off sooner or later. Building a smart list by being organized and assigning good recall dates helps create more opportunities to have that impeccable timing.
The prospect. There is a two-way qualifying process going on, them to us and us to them. The prospects we are calling are savvy business people and sometimes healthy skeptics. They definitely want to vet the potential vendor or strategic partner before hiring them, but sometimes even before setting an appointment. That may or may not impede the option to book a one call close. The prospect may want to make sure they are not wasting their time or anyone’s time by setting up a meeting. It’s faster and easier now, more than ever, to check out another company so the process doesn’t have to take long.
The prospect may request more information but a good appointment setter can send the information and also book an appointment. The prospect may even be able to check out the website or aspects of the website in real time while interacting on the call. Bottom line, if the prospect insists on receiving an email first before setting the appointment, there’s not an opportunity for a one call close.
The appointment setter. In some cases, it comes down to skill of the appointment setter, however, even the best appointment setters don’t always get a one call close. Appointment setting is a skill and in fact, a body of skills. The greater the skill of the appointment setter, the more one call appointment closes occur.
With matters of timing, the skill of the appointment setter lies partly in the long game of meticulously building a pipeline of calls backs, but also in the shorter game of facilitating the process so that we have our name in the hat first, and even to help inch up the sales cycle.
Other skills include consistently asking and recording direct line information, having the calendar open, asking for the appointment, asking for the appointment in the face of objections, asking to leave a voice mail and listening to the voice mail for clues about when to call back.
If you count the front end of the process of identifying or verifying the decision maker, one call might only result in finding out a name, or rule out the company as a prospect or learn the decision maker is at another location. There are many reasons why we don’t always get a one call appointment close, however, we will continue to approach each call with holding the ideal, expecting, believing, that a one call close is always a possibility.