Why Sales Appointments Don’t Convert – Conversion Rate Optimisation
2 Reasons Sales Appointments Don’t Convert –
How To Increase Your Conversion Rate
I find it extremely interesting that so many of our new customers say we speak a different language to a lot of players in our industry. The thing is though, we’re not reinventing wheels and we’re not really innovating. We’re simply doing a good job of best practice – something that perhaps seems forgotten in part?
One of the most frequent conversations I have with my customers is a little back to front. Rather than explaining how we can provide well qualified appointments, we start off by looking at the reasons sales meetings fail.
1) A poor approach to booking the meeting in the first place
2) Failure to align expectations with the customer prior to attending the meeting.
Number 1 speaks for itself but the game-changer; the opportunity to really supercharge your conversion rate, lies in the 2nd reason sales meetings don’t work – Failure to align expectations with our prospects prior to attending meetings with them.
Why is this not happening?
Being completely honest, I have to say that I know very, very few Sales People that actually do use this best practice and the ones that do tend to use it well, have often mastered the art of spending their time in the right places. It’s an effective form of qualification that seems very under-utilised.
Aligning expectations is NOT BANT qualification.
Why should it be happening?
Every year businesses incur irrecoverable costs running into hundreds of millions pounds on what is essentially wasted time. Meetings that should never have been attended, and the interesting thing about it is it’s all totally avoidable for the most part. Basic sales stuff.
If you want to significantly increase your sales meeting conversion rate this is what you need to do. At the point of booking a Sales Meeting, as your calendar invite or confirmation email goes out, you need to be a bit smart. You need to use this critical contact to further align expectations with your Prospect prior to attending the meeting.
For an appointment setter, that means joining the dots between the Internal and External sales teams by providing a seamless hand-over. One that clarifies the information you’ve discovered, outlines an agenda for the sales team and any meeting objectives.
The idea being that if there is any misalignment at this point your Prospect will pipe up and say something, rather than accepting the meeting and wasting everybody’s time. You can probably already see the benefits there.
It’s the customer’s agenda, not yours -Let’s look at an example
The following is an example trimmed at the top and tail so we can focus on the important bit:
So that we’re aligned for the meeting, I’d like to fully understand:
*Your current XXXXXX strategies.
*XXXXXX objectives/preferences/challenges/expectations and what a successful XXXXXX looks like to you.
*What is and isn’t working for you with your current XXXXXX
*Your deciding factors in choosing an XXXXX Partner.
I’d also like to show you how some of the worlds leading companies have overcome XXXXX challenge to achieve XXXXX outcome.
Can you let me know what you’d like to add to the agenda and if this is in-line with your expectations?
Let’s look at a couple of key points here:
- Your deciding factors in choosing an XXXXX Partner.
This is a really good question, because if there is absolutely no intention of choosing a new Partner or finding better solutions for XXXX, this is not a question that can be answered easily and it’s unlikely it will be in-line with their expectations. Better the red flag appears now rather than when you’ve travelled for 2 hours to sit in front of them.
- So that we’re aligned for the meeting, I’d like to fully understand:
Just say what you mean, you can’t go wrong with being honest and direct so if you’re going to use this technique, might as well be thorough with it. It shows professionalism and genuine interest in their business rather than this being an attempt to pursue your own private agenda.
- Can you let me know what you’d like to add to the agenda and if this is in-line with your expectations?
It is imperative you invite a response and that means finishing with this question or one to this effect. Without confirmation that the agenda etc is in-line with their expectations, attending Sales Meetings can be risky from a time v results point of view.
This is the interesting part. If you don’t get a response from this attempt to align expectations, your Salesman’s Paranoia is probably going to go into overdrive. It should, anyway.
I’d be picking up the phone and re-qualifying to see what’s what. Time is our most valuable commodity, but a lot of us seem to place more value on our Prospects time than we do our own.
By inviting a response and asking if your agenda is inline with their expectations you’ll often find that both parties have a far more equal perception of the intention, content and objectives of the proposed meeting, thus resulting in better outcomes and conversion rates as the poor opportunities drop out much faster.
Here’s a genuine response:
I’m looking forward to meeting you tomorrow as well.
I think your agenda items are in line with my expectations and you even have a couple of questions that I hadn’t expected, so that’s all good 🙂
See you tomorrow.
When not to attend
If I received an e-mail back saying ‘thanks Pete, this looks great, but we only really want to talk about cats.’ I’d be seriously thinking about whether or not I should be attending this meeting, so I’d be looking to make additional contact to help me explore the opportunity further.
Maybe there simply isn’t a readiness to buy or compelling reason to change just yet. Maybe that Prospect would be better off placed into a lead nurturing stream allowing time to be spent working on more sales–ready opportunities and finding other opportunities that can be closed.
A combination of 1 & 2
If you can combine a solid approach to booking qualified meetings with the practice of aligning expectations when you tee-up opportunities for your Sales Team to close, you’ll notice your conversion rate begins to soar. You may not attend quite as many meetings, but you’ll convert more of the ones you do. That in itself frees up more time for you to be productive else where.
At the point of aligning expectations you may have Prospects drop out of the process, which surely is a good thing, especially if your methods of obtaining appointments aren’t where they should be. It’s our job as Internal Sales People or Telemarketers to ensure that our External Sales Teams are in the right places at the right times. I mean, I’d rather the sales team uncovered a red flag now, while sat in the office at this early stage, rather than later when they’ve invested valuable time and resources into it.
What can you do?
If you’re not doing this stuff and your meeting conversions could be improved, try using this technique because it will pay dividends quickly. Alternatively, we could always help you out on a pay on results basis.
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