Over the past 16 years, we have worked with over 30 ,000 sales people across six continents to help them get more first sales appointments with key decision makers. As you can imagine, we get asked a lot of questions. Many offer their input and experiences.

These sale people tell us that one of the most common problems is getting executives to agree to a sales appointment.  After talking through the challenges, you’re left with a pretty common laundry list of obstacles. Cold calling for appointments is the trick.  Everything from a call list that isn’t close to 100% accurate, to finding the right person, to getting past the gatekeeper and getting the attention of the key player.

We also have the opportunity to observe the behavior of these sales people. At first they try everything. They:

  • Use gimmicks and dream up clever catch phrases. Occasionally these things work, but most of time it is a “thanks, but no thanks” or worse.
  • Retreat to trolling LinkedIn
  • They burn out and many eventually leave. All the energy and vigor they came into the job with has all but evaporated.
  • Communicate almost exclusively via email (no response is better than having someone hang up on you)

You can break the cycle. There a number of things you can do and they can do to become more successful. Training is a great option as long as what they are being taught has a proven track record of results. You can give them tools to use, but make sure you show them how to use the tools, when to use the tools and (most importantly) how not to get bogged down in too many tools.

All that said there is there is one thing they can do to improve results. This one thing will make the difference between getting the appointment and not. This is the thing that can break through the noise and stand out from all the other people trying to get access to these same executives.

What is that one thing?

ASK for the appointment. What is an appointment setter? It’s the sales person that asks for the appointment. Yes, just ask! Many sales people fail to ask often enough. They talk on and on in voice messages and emails about how “buzz word compliant” their solution is. Stop with the verbal thicket of words and just ask.

When we say ask, we mean in every way possible. Ask to set up 30 minutes on a day, date and time to talk about the simple business problem (that they are likely to have) that you routinely solve. This means ask the admin how to best schedule time with the key player.When you send your emails and leave voicemails; always ASK for the appointment.

Asking for the appointment isn’t the only thing you can do to get the time and attention of an executive, but it has a big impact and is one of the few variables you can control.

Go ahead. ASK.


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