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One Call, Two Objectives?
By Mark Sanford, PhD

Get better results when you prospect by separating  prospecting calls from appointment setting calls.

Prospecting calls should be limited to their original purpose, uncover new business, identify the decision-makers, and qualify for present or future need.

I've been receiving a number of e-mails lately from readers asking how they can effectively combine both prospecting and appointment setting into a single cold call. Almost all of the e-mails describe significant problems in doing this successfully, especially when your company is unknown to the prospect. I do have a solution to this dilemma, but it may not be what you expect.

The truth is that prospecting calls should be limited to their original purpose, which is to uncover new business, identify the decision-makers, and qualify for present or future need. In my experience, you will get far better results when you separate prospecting calls from appointment setting calls.

Effective prospecting calls are designed with only one objective in mind-- to mine new business that comes up (and quickly vanishes) unless uncovered by telemarketing calls. These calls can also help you to keep in contact with prospects that you suspect have a future need for your product or services.

Prospecting calls are also best when used as a follow-up for trade show attendees, direct mailings, and advertising campaigns.

To depend on prospecting calls to try to set up appointments at the same time is generally a waste of time and good leads. It is a costly and ineffective use of resources. The low success rate will add to the usual discouragement of making these calls in the first place. It is a far better strategy to call/mail/call to establish the need for a transaction than to use prospecting calls to secure appointments.

Appointment setting calls are best left to the salesperson who will be actually meeting with the prospect. Qualified leads should always be handed over to the person who closes the sale. If sales or account reps are making their own prospecting calls, then appointment setting is almost always best left to a separate call at a later date. Hopefully, your prospecting efforts will be far enough ahead of your appointment setting activities that some reasonable amount of time can pass before the appointment setting call!

The only exception to this might be a lone operator or sales rep who is making their own prospecting calls with the purpose of advancing straight to a close, either on the phone or face to face. An example of this might be newspaper subscriptions.

Incidentally, it is becoming increasingly popular to use e-mail blasts followed by prospecting calls as an inexpensive alternative to direct mail campaigns. Those of us who are comfortable using the phone may find this a bit redundant. If you are not that comfortable on the phone, the e-mail can provide a pretext or reason for making the call. That way, you can use the excuse that you are just following up on the e-mail.

However, a good script can easily get around the necessity for an "excuse to call". For example, you might say: "This is (your name) from (your company) and we're trying to identify companies that may have not yet converted to (your product or service). Tell me, Mr./Ms. Prospect, what are you presently using and will you be in the market in the near future?" Then, have the sales rep follow up for that all-important appointment!

Mark Sanford, of Sanford Associates, is a business development coach and trainer with 30+ years of business experience. More free articles and training materials on cold calling. Mark can be reached at 925.253.0646.

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