Expecting appointment-setting results on Day #1. Don’t count on it.
How long does it take to see results on a new program?
Sometimes it seems as though it takes forever before we start to see real results on a new program, and it’s easy to get impatient. We start all new clients with a test (pilot) program of 150-200 hours; if many of our pilots had been only 75-100 hours long, both VSA and our clients would have called them failures. In four recent pilots, we set exponentially more appointments in the second 100 hours than in the first. Had we given up on the programs after the first slow half, our clients would have lost a terrific source of sales opportunities.
Why the delay? It would be reasonable to assume that we would see the same results in week 1 as in week 6, but this is not the case. There are many reasons for this, some of which I’ve touched on in previous posts.
• The list gets smarter. It takes time to navigate to the correct decision maker and determine the best way to reach them. While on the first call we may only have the general phone number and title of the person we want to reach, by the third or fourth call we typically have the name and direct line of the decision maker.
• Our calls become more efficient. After the first round or two of calls we are able to weed out the bad records and those who are not qualified or have no interest. Even well-researched lists have a few bad records, and the sooner they are removed from the list the more time we can spend on good records.
• We become familiar to the decision makers. They have heard from us through voicemails, emails, and sometimes their gatekeeper. It is a proven fact that making multiple follow-up calls, leaving messages, and sending emails works to warm up the market. This critical follow-up process takes time, but is well worth it.
• We start to build momentum. After a few days of calling we start to get return calls and emails from interested prospects, a result of messages left several days in the past. This simply cannot happen in the beginning.
• Our callers become more knowledgeable and comfortable with the program. After a few hours of calls, callers simply know more about the prospects, the industry, and the market. We can engage with decision makers better and each call is more effective. After reviewing the program, script, and talking points, the best way to train callers on a new program is to start making calls. As we speak with prospects, we also learn more about the typical push-back and questions, which makes us better prepared for future calls. There is simply no other way to reach this level of expertise and fluency with the program.
Is there any way to project results based on the first week or two of the program? In our experience, no; at least not without a large margin of error. For our callers and with our process, we have found it takes at least 150 hours before we start to see results that can be reliably projected into the future. Anyone who draws conclusions based on shorter pilots is probably short-changing themselves out of a productive source of qualified sales leads.