The Number One biggest challenge my clients are dealing with this year is how to get more appointments with quality prospects.

It seems all these sales professionals are convinced that given the opportunity to present their service or product to an interested prospect, they have extremely high odds of closing the deal and winning a new client.   But then, frustration arrives.  How do they manage to get more appointments scheduled, and why in the heck is it so hard to make them?

In the past six years, competition for “air time” with qualified buyers has intensified to an extraordinary level.  What used to be a relatively simple process has now become a repetitive and frustrating nightmare.  Gaining access to decision makers requires navigating a maze of electronic gatekeepers, voicemail systems, non-existent assistants and never-returned phone calls, emails, and texts.   Why is it so hard to make appointments?

In today’s article, we discuss the core issues and give you some tips.  Read on…

The Global Financial Meltdown of 2008

Who knew at the time that the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in June 2008 would precipitate a Global financial meltdown of epic proportions?  The repercussions of this debacle were sudden, immediately felt, and have continued until today.   Quite simply, thousands of businesses were wiped out, revenues dropped like a rock, millions of consumers lost billions in their investment portfolios, and everyone in corporate America suddenly decided to guard their shrinking assets…..thus shutting down all spending or any sort of capital investment.

I remember at that time doing some consulting work for a commercial Real Estate firm.  They were trying to grasp why most of their junior executives and trainees were leaving the business, and why no one seemed to be able to bring in ANY new clients.   They simply couldn’t get any new prospective buyers to schedule meetings!  Their business development strategy, which had worked like clockwork for the previous 15 years, was suddenly no longer working.

What I discovered was deceptively simple.  The number of prospective buyers of commercial real estate had suddenly dropped by over 200%, and the number of salespeople trying to meet with them had increased.  More competition for less prospects meant less and less appointments.  And this company, which depended mostly on telemarketing to make appointments, was failing.

To a large extent, this same dynamic impacted the majority of businesses in the world.  Suddenly, there were less buyers, less available investment funds, fewer risk-takers, massive cutting of expenses and a wave of downsizing.  In a flash, the whole world got very cautious.  Selling ANYTHING in that environment was an extreme challenge.

Moral of the story:  you can’t narrowly focus on only one strategy to get new business appointments, especially when times are tough and everyone is competing for a shrinking part of the pie.  It takes a well thought-out plan with multiple paths leading to your key executive and that all-important appointment.

The 7-Step Process for Maximizing Appointments

To craft an effective Business Development Strategy requires carefully examining and determining the best possible answers to the following questions:

  1. What are you selling?                 A careful study of the Features, Benefits, and Unique Value you deliver to the marketplace.
  2. Who are you Selling it to?                 The ideal prospect in your ideal target market, precisely defined.
  3. What’s the most Successful Selling Mindset?                 Are your past failures, losses, and assumptions preventing you from success today?
  4. What worked in the Past? (or not)                 Have you researched and codified all the Best Practices that created your success in the past?
  5. What’s the Plan Going Forward?                 You should have at least 7 strategies to win new appointments, clearly defined.
  6. What’s the best way to connect with my future Client?                 Your ideal client prefers to be communicated with in a certain fashion.  You should know it!
  7. How to Close for the Appointment                How can you clearly convey the VALUE to the prospect of meeting with you?

Each of these questions requires a ton of research, discussion, testing, discussion and more research before you can really nail it down.  However, the time spent putting this together will more than pay off when you execute your plan.   You can’t achieve your business development objectives if you don’t have a very clear and simple answer to each of the above 7 questions.

There is a Common Denominator, a unifying theme which ties all of this together and I will share it with you now.  Here it is:

GET OUT OF YOURSELF! To reach your future client, you need to think like them.  You need to understand what motivates them, what excites them, what they enjoy doing in their leisure time, what associations they belong to,  what college they attended, where they were born, their age and sex, how many children they have, what their favorite movie would be, and so on and so on.   The more you identify with them, and the more see the world through their eyes, the better your business development becomes.  If you were able to  assume their identity for a moment, wouldn’t it be a simple task to spot what would entice  them to meet with you? Bottom line, do your research, see the world through their “eyes”, and deliver a compelling reason to meet with you that meets their expectation of what is valuable.