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How to Double Your Sales Appointments in Half the Time; Part 2
By Jeff Hardesty, President, JDH Group, Inc.

Why is 'Setting Sales Appointments' a Critical Sales Performance Competency and How Do You Build a Prospecting System to Set More Sales Appointments in Less Time?

In Part 1, we summarized that you may have the best service in the world and the best widget in its category. But if you can't physically get in front of your targeted business prospects on a routine basis you won't meet your revenue objectives.

And we discussed these (3) realities:

  • If you double your new appointments you will double your revenue...regardless of your closing ratio
  • Not setting enough new business appointments leads to Sales employee turnover, sub-par revenue results and longer Ramp-to-Quota for new hires
  • The communication act of asking for a Business appointment should be internally declared a KEY sales competency and trained to individually

So logically, sales organizations should be willing to develop and provide 'Best Practice' support systems to their sales teams for 'Measurable' performance results in line with effectively setting sales appointments.

Why is a Conversation-to-Appointment Ratio a core sales competency?

Because it's a sales skill set that is measurable around an essential task; sales prospecting and setting business appointments. It has a purpose and is directly tied to the end results; good or bad.
In this case, it is to introduce and education the value of your product or service to a specific individual or group. It initiates your selling process. It doesn't matter if you are having this conversation by telephone, cold-calling in person, on elevators, or just yelling from one rooftop to another; it is a communication skill set that is essential to your sales success. It's what you say and how you say it.

Here are a few prerequisites of whether or not something should be declared a core competency:

#1
Is it an essential component to the sales mission or is it just an ingredient in the recipe?

Think of a sports person. What are a golfer's essential competencies from tee-off to last putt? Are the ball and club core competencies? Or are the core competencies the golf swing and putting stroke?
How about a basketball player with the essential competencies of passing, dribbling, and shooting?

Hint: Don't relate an Indy car pit crew putting gas in the fuel tank as a competency.

#2
You must be able to be measure it routinely and accurately. Ask yourself if you could measure it with a napkin, pencil, and calculator?

That way you'll be able to know if you're performing this business activity better than your competitors.
It's sort of like knowing if your team is "Blocking and Tackling" better than your opponent's team in a football game.
Because at the end of the day, it's the individual (Or the team) with the best overall stats that wins.

#3
You should be able to apply "Timely Training" and "Powerful Routines" around each core competency.

We all know what sales training is. But do we understand why sales training fails?

And to understand this...it becomes important to understand what I mean when I use the term..."Timely Training."

Timely Training means you have in place appropriate structures for learning and application. You have to be able to define useful short-term goals, long term objectives and performance benchmarks, but also measure each participant's progress. Have participants work closely with qualified trainers for proper follow-up and support.
But most importantly..."Timely Training" should be focused on only one key sales competency at a time.

That means you never move on to your next training objective (In-line sales competency) until your intended 'benchmark' performance metric is realized.

"Powerful Routines" are Best Practices internal to each Core Competency that result in the highest ratio of success. It's a technique or communication process that through experience has proven to get the best result parallel to a particular sales scenario.

As an example, when a prospect says "Just send me some information" we identify that communication as an objection. 95% of the time it's a polite way of getting rid of us. Deep down inside we know what happens to the information. It goes in the 'circular file'. Bottom line, it keeps both the Post Office and the office Janitor busy. One delivers these 'information requests' and the other one throws them out.

What's your current 'Powerful Routine' to effectively communicate to a third solution, because none of us want to be in the 'Postal' Business.

Key Learning Point:
There are only so many scenarios in any sales process. If you isolate them, train to each one of them with Powerful Routines and then measure the outcome, you are on your way to success.

Take for example setting 'Top-down' business appointments. We've already decided it would be a benefit to our sales success if we could reduce the time it took to achieve the necessary number of 'Top-down' appointments.
In building an effective learning system to improve your Conversation-to-appointment ratio from the national average of 4-18%, you must first understand why that competency ratio is only 4-18%.

With that in mind, here's what I know to be true:

1.We don't seek to first (Before we pick up the telephone) understand the Prospect's internal business objectives parallel to our solutions offering, then model our appointment approach around it
2.We settle for a business level of contact that has no direct fiscal authority
3.We sell our 'product/service' instead of selling the diagnostic steps in our 'Evaluation'Process
4.We fail to develop an effective Call to Action; strategic words and phrases that create a positive 'visual' reference to the Prospect of what happens during the initial appointment and how long it takes
5.We don't support our 'Call to Action' with 3rd party valuators parallel to the Prospects business objectives; valuators like business statistics, appointment performance ratios, ROI figures and relevant success stories
6.We fail to visually 'take the risk out' in case they find that we are wasting their time once we're in the door

These (6) 'Here's What I Know to be True'factors are where you should begin your sales prospecting and sales performance improvement journey, because the definition of insanity is doing the same old thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

In Part 3 of 'How to Double Your Sales Appointments in Half the Time', we will take an in depth look at these 6 failure factors and flip them 180% into individual powerful routines to effectively set more 'Top-down' business appointments in less time.



Jeff Hardesty is president of JDH Group Inc.( www.convertmoresales.com ), a sales performance training company based in Powell, Ohio. He can be reached at jeff@convertmoresales.com

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