Appointment Setting in a Busy Marketplace: The Do’s and Don’ts of Casting a Net that’s Even Wider
It’s a cliché that almost everyone’s heard: in order to catch more fish, you need to cast a wider net.
Casting that “wide net” has always been one of the main goals of telephone lead generation—in order to identify qualified prospects with a true interest in your offering, you have to contact as many decision makers as possible.
Over the past few years, however, it’s become harder and harder to actually get those decision makers on the phone. Based on VSA’s internal calling data, it currently takes between 25 and 40 dials just to connect with a single targeted persona.
That might sound discouraging, but take it from us: telephone lead generation can still be highly effective. The key, naturally, is to cast a net that’s even wider—by completely maximizing your chances of setting an appointment once you do connect with a prospect. Not only are your targets more elusive, their time is more valuable. Your conversations, therefore, have to be quick and effective. You simply can’t let a good opportunity slip away.
Based on our experience representing clients who prospect into 2020’s toughest markets, here are some do’s and don’ts of effective telephone lead generation:
1. Don’t beat around the bush—get straight to the point of why you’re calling. Chit-chatting to establish rapport with your prospects may still be effective in person, but nowadays this strategy rarely works on a cold call. DMs simply don’t have the time or patience for it, and it’s all too easy to just hang up the phone. After all the work that you’ve put into simply connecting with a prospect, you don’t want to risk losing them before they get a chance to learn what your call is really about.
2. Don’t ask too many qualifying questions. How many employees does your prospect have? What’s their budget size? When is their contract with their current provider set to expire? To be completely frank, having to answer all of these questions on a cold call is annoying to most busy decision makers, and might even make them feel like you’re stringing them along. It’s better to leave qualification for the second call—and just focus on making that second call happen.
3. Don’t describe your offering too thoroughly. This one might seem counterintuitive—how can someone be interested in an offering they don’t fully understand? However, a decision maker who’s just been interrupted is unlikely to have the energy or be in the right headspace to digest all that information. All they’re looking for is a simple reason why they should or shouldn’t consider your offering. In other words: focus less on your offering and more on their pain.
1. Do Acknowledge that you’re an interruption. The main point of tension on a cold call stems from the fact that it’s unexpected. Simply acknowledging that you’re an interruption diffused this tension right away. It also demonstrates self-awareness and consideration of the prospect’s busy schedule, which establishes trust. And a prospect who trusts you will be willing to hear you out—maximizing the chances that they’ll be receptive to what you have to say.
2. Do ask for the appointment quickly. After you’ve acknowledged you’re an interruption, promise not to take up too much time—and then deliver. Cut right to the chase, making the ask for an appointment the first question your prospects respond to. This will allow you to cast a truly wide net by ensuring that everyone you talk to gets at least one opportunity to schedule an appointment. If they hesitate or say no, you can always ask again after addressing their concerns—or simply follow up later.
3. Do use messaging that directly addresses likely pain points. From the instant they pick up the phone, many decision makers are already looking for an excuse to put it down again. When the call is about your product, that excuse is as easy as “I’m not interested”. When you’re addressing their pain and frustration, though, that claim becomes a lot harder to make. Think carefully about how to connect both financially and emotionally with the person on the other end of the phone. Once you’ve succeeded, you’ll notice a huge difference.
Some of these insights may surprise you—after all, many of us have gone through our careers believing in the importance of slowing down and thoroughly qualifying prospects on the first call. In a fast-paced environment, though, this can really backfire. Ultimately, its better to sort out less-qualified prospects later than to be so methodical on the first call that you lose out on great prospects who simply don’t have the time or patience.
Besides, qualification is a process that’s best left to your skilled reps, anyway. The lead gen team is most effective when it’s entire focus is on doing the heavy lifting—that is, casting the widest possible net.
If that heavy lifting starts to feel like too much to handle internally, you can always enlist the help of an outside partner. VSA has been connecting our clients to interested, highly-qualified prospects for two decades—we’re adept at balancing quality and quantity, being succinct and professional, and designing campaigns that are ROI-positive.
Whether you choose to partner up or go it alone, your ideal prospects will still be out there. It’s just the process of finding them that’s different.