Updated for 2021
For a moment, let’s forget about ‘appointments’. Let me ask you a few simple questions about the leads you receive:
- Do they know who you are and what your company does?
- Do these same leads wake up in the morning saying, “I need to call (your company) and buy one of these today?”
- Are these same leads likely to have the business issues and pains that your solution routinely solves, whether they consciously acknowledge it or not?
I’m reasonable confident that your answers are “no”, “no” and “yes”. You need to talk to these folks, right? But you need a meaningful conversation with a decision-maker – one you know has the responsibility of overseeing solutions such as yours.
Creating Meaningful Conversations
In most sales and sales development organizations, there is a great emphasis on getting appointments and often times, qualified appointments. At first it sounds really appealing. The field rep says, “Just get me an appointment. I can handle it from there.”
The scenario may play out as follows: the field rep gets appointments, but the appointments don’t turn into real sales opportunities. Hence, the classic sales and marketing friction we hear so much about. So the rep changes the requirement and says, “What we really need are qualified appointments.”
In response, the sales development team does just that. They work really hard and to get “qualified appointments”. They get a few, but the problem is now, a “few” is not nearly enough to feed the sales team. What that means is two teams that should be working together are now frustrated with each other. Ultimately, that puts the company behind the 8-ball to meet aggressive revenue targets. It’s a vicious, non-productive cycle.
So, how do you prevent this from happening in your organization?
Example of an Ideal Lead Opportunity
Suppose you are embarking on an out-of-town business trip. Once it’s boarding time, the gate agent calls your zone. You scan your boarding pass and it makes a funny sound. The gate agent smiles and says to you, “Congratulations! You are our one-millionth flyer! As a reward, you may sit anywhere on the plane. And, by the way, the VP of your top prospect account, Joe Smith, is sitting in seat 1A.”
What seat would you choose? Of course it would be 1B.
Now, if I told you that Joe Smith knew you were going to sit next to him – and expected you to talk about how your solution can help his business, would you even pay extra to sit in that seat? I am sure you would.
If this situation were to happen one time, that would be a pretty good day. If it were to happen 3-4 (or more) times per month for each of your sales reps, that would be game changing.
Are these the types of meetings you want? If so, what do we call it? It’s not “BANT qualified” because we you don’t know if Joe has budget, authority, need or a timetable to buy.
At FRONTLINE Selling, this type of meeting is what we call a Meaningful Interaction or MI for short. The definition of an MI is a 20-30 minute scheduled, meaningful conversation with a meaningful person, at a meaningful time.
The operative phrase in the definition is ‘meaningful’.
How do you know if you should be pursuing appointments or Meaningful Interactions? Appointments are generally set with anyone willing to take a call. There may be some criteria they meet, such as a targeted title, but titles aren’t monolithic these days and you don’t really know if they handle the buying decisions for your solution.
Meaningful Interactions are only set with someone you engage with who:
- Fits your ideal client profile
- Is in a position to have influence over purchasing decisions
- Has the challenge your company is poised to solve
- Is genuinely interested in solving their problem now
If you ask someone for an appointment with the promise of ‘taking up just 10 minutes’, that’s going to be a waste of your time. There is no way to properly qualify a lead in such a short time frame, and that sets up mistrust from the person agreeing to the call. I get emails all the time wanting to learn more about my company’s challenges and asking for 5-10 minutes of my time. I can promise you that you’ll learn nothing valuable about our challenges in 5-10 minutes!
In most every case, it takes at least 20 minutes to have a proper dialogue which is why we only calendar meetings of 20-30 minutes. (And we keep to that!)
Don’t waste your reps’ time with a large number of ‘appointments’. Combining a data-based process with powerful technology, FRONTLINE is the only company that creates a Real Lead: The Meaningful Interaction. We also leverage our software to train via simulation on how to best execute the MI for the highest rate of opportunity creation. Reach out to us today to learn more about our process and how we can help you expand your pipeline.