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Learn to get appointments and avoid disappointments


Oh boy! Oh boy! You got the appointment!

Slow down there, commitment breath. You’re only at the steps of the church, not the altar.

Sure, getting the appointment is the beginning of a series of events that could lead to a sale, but what if the prospect don’t show, or cancels or cuts your face time to five minutes. What do you do then?

Prospects will appoint you, then disappoint you.

Appointments and disappointments. They’re a critical part of the sales cycle. Appointments might lead you closer to the sale, but they are not a sure thing. Not all appointments are good. In fact, more than half of all appointments are bad or a waste of time (you just don’t know which half).

Here are the disappointments — the downs and further downs of sales:

• The decision maker cancels the appointment for no reason. All you get is a voice mail or an e-mail from an administrative person.

• The decision maker’s administrative person calls to change the meeting to a month from now.

• The decision maker passes you to a lesser being before the appointment.

• They don’t show up for the appointment, and there’s no call. You show up and they are nowhere to be found.

• You show up, they are there, you enter their office, and they say, with arms folded, “I only have five minutes. Whaddaya got?” Or they immediately ask, “How much is it?”

• You go through the pitch and the person you thought was the decision maker says, “Sounds great, but I have to talk this over with my boss.”

• The decision maker says, “Sounds great. Send me a proposal.”

• After your presentation, the prospect says they’re taking three bids and will select the lowest price. What a jerk. Is this a partnership or the Miss America contest?

Sales controversy: To confirm or not to confirm? That is the question. Should you or shouldn’t you? The answer is: Confirm 100 percent of your appointments. Only scaredy-cat old-world salespeople won’t confirm because they fear cancellation.

There are other disappointments:

They interrupt you.

They make you wait.

They’re rude to you.

They insult you.

Buyers can be meanies.

Your response to disappointment is up to you. Throwing blame vs. catching responsibility. In the game of blame, everyone loses — especially you! Sales success lies in your ability to control your own sales fate (instead of whining about it).

Why are you blaming them? What did they do wrong? Start with nothing. What did you do wrong? Start with everything. Before you go on a whining tirade, ask yourself what you could have done to prevent these disappointments from occurring.

Here’s the appointment secret: they must perceive “there’s value in this for me,” not “it’s a sales pitch from you.” If the prospects perceive no value, they will enact one of the “disappointments.” If the prospects perceive some gain by doing business with you, or really need what you have, they will become probable purchasers. (For more about probable purchasers, see “The Patterson Principles of Selling” on amazon.com.)

Here are 7.5 positive actions you can take to ensure a greater percentage of appointment connections:

1. Be friendly, not forceful. The more you push, the more they will cancel.

2. Start with more specific communication about what will take place. Agree in advance about what will be discussed in a nice and non-confrontational way.

3. Make the pitch in terms of them. Let them convince themselves. It’s not what you do; it’s how they benefit from what you do.

4. Convert your statements to engagement questions. Ask and they become engaged.

5. Ask them to have something ready for the meeting. A projector or a flip chart — anything to create responsibility. Get them involved with the presentation and they are most likely to be there.

6. Tell them you’ll be bringing ideas to the meeting. Bring ideas for them and they will know that you put personal preparation into the appointment.

7. Set a positive anticipation for the meeting. Send confirmation reminders that have a value message attached.

7.5. Select a winning venue for the meeting. Make it breakfast, lunch or dinner and you have a huge swing in appointment connection rates.

Appointments are not just the start of the sale; they’re the beginning of the relationship. Your success in making them happen has little or nothing to do with the other guy. The sooner you realize that, the higher your sales will soar.

There’s one more secret, but I’m out of space. If you want it (free), go to www.gitomer.com, register if you’re a first-time user, and enter AHA in the GitBit box.

Jeffrey Gitomer can be reached by phone at (704) 333-1112 or by e-mail at salesman@gitomer.com.

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