How you open and close a call are important skills in telemarketing. A clumsy call opening can put you and the buyer off, something that’s not always easy to put right. However, a bad close can be the end of your relationship with a buyer forever. For appointment setting companies the ability to close is critical to achieving success, whether for the telemarketer, the agency or the client. There’s a lot resting on it. In fact, a single question that can describe whether a campaign hit target or flopped is often ‘how many appointments did it generate’. The words used, the tone of voice and manner, all leave a lasting impression on the person being spoken with. So whether the call is designed to close a sale, or close with the objective of getting a meeting in the diary, it’s important to make sure you get it just right.
Like anything else in life, having a structured call and workflow is a good way to be effective and maximise the use of your time. Appointment setting companies like Blue Donkey generally have ways of working that follows a particular structure and guides the telemarketer through the call. This definitely shouldn’t be a script, or a patter but a general way the flow of a call is designed. A good analogy to describe this is a road map. First, you reach x (opening of the call) then you pass y (open question designed to understand needs and get people talking), then depending on what you find out, you take direction A or B. The direction the call takes should always be built around the buyer’s objectives. The close should become the natural last stop on your journey, where the meeting is agreed upon. If the structure is followed appropriately and guided by the decision maker’s contribution, the close should be easy. So really, the best closing technique is to get the buyer talking about their needs as a business.
Astonishingly, one of the biggest barriers to success at the closing stage of the call is actually a complete absence of any kind of close. Many people find it really hard to just ask the question ‘can we come and see you’. Appointment setting companies use training and adopt standard methods for closing, including certain phrases that become second nature over time, such as ‘from what you’re saying, it sounds like we can help you, throw some dates at me and we’ll have someone come and see you”. Of course, it’s really important to only use such a phrase where it’s genuinely applicable, and where a proper two-way conversation has taken place. A basic test for whether this has happened is to ask yourself: Who spoke more? If you ask good open questions, that generate a free-flowing discussion, the decision makers you speak with will do most of the talking. If on the other hand, a telemarketer has rushed through a pitch, does all the talking, then attempts to close, they’ll get the negative response they deserve.
The last thing businesses or appointment setting companies needs is a reputation for being pushy. Putting too much pressure on the person you’re speaking to will irritate even the keenest customers and make you come across as aggressive, or desperate. The call should have been positive, informative, and persuasive enough that you won’t need to put any pressure on. However, if the decision maker you’re speaking to is still not convinced enough to agree to a meeting by the end of the call, ask if it’s OK to call back another time.
Appointment setting companies routinely use what’s called a trial close, where they plant the idea of a call at an agreed date with a view to setting up a meeting then. This works wonders for building a future pipeline and creating the best possible impression of the company brand. Giving the decision maker the time and space to set the pace of your relationship will help demonstrate your values as a business, a person and a potential supply partner.
Years ago the concept of the ‘hungry’ salesperson was embraced. Especially by organisations that were fighting for market share in highly competitive markets. Thankfully that kind of thinking died with the yuppy and has since been replaced with the idea that its respect, not hunger that builds businesses. Likewise, appointment setting companies are careful nowadays to ensure telemarketers are not so focused on their targets that they forget to respect the person they’re speaking to has priorities and goals of their own. Where the right questions were asked and the benefits of the product or service have been exchanged, if the decision maker isn’t ready to meet its appropriate to suggest another call, gain consent for email, and plant the seed in their mind that you’d like to arrange a meeting if it’s suitable for them at that point.
If the call has been a long one, a good way to close it is to sum up what happens next. Particularly where a close was successful, and a meeting or sale has been agreed. Appointment setting companies use this as an opportunity to check the details of the meeting, site address, parking, invite other key decision makers at the organisation and perhaps check emails phonetically to ensure accuracy. Apart from anything else, it’s so easy for decision makers to come off the phone, and be interrupted by someone so they forget the meeting was agreed. Following up with a confirmation email is a great way to demonstrate professionalism and remind them of your contact details should they need to change the meeting time. Be clear about any information you intend to record or share, GDPR is very clear about the growing importance of personal information.