Send out all the emails and make all the phone calls you want to. You won’t be making any sales unless you can actually land a meeting with a prospective client. With the economy the way it is these days, that mission has proven to be more difficult than it has been in a long time. Luckily, according to Emma Brudner, writing for HubSpot, there is a proven three-step process that will significantly boost sales reps’ likelihood of scheduling that all-important first meeting with a prospect.
Land a Meeting in Three Steps
Step One: Disarm the Prospect
Businesses are on their guard when it comes to their money and how they spend it. That’s why getting the prospect to drop their guard is the crucial first step in order to land a meeting with them. This has to happen within the first few seconds of the phone call.
Your prospect is likely a very busy person. One of the main attributes of most salespeople that turns prospects off to the idea of a sale is the sales rep’s seeming disregard for that fact. So, to land a meeting, you need to show that you’re both different and considerate within the first few sentences you say to them. Brudner suggests opening up the conversation with an introduction and pointing out that you know the prospect’s time is valuable.
“Hi there, this is Rachel Cagle with SalesFuel. I’m sure I caught you in the middle of something.” These are Brudner’s recommended opening sentences. Why? “People are naturally suspicious when they pick up the phone,” writes Brudner, “and the best way to get them to lower their guard is by saying outright who you are and where you're calling from.” If you follow that up with an admission of knowing that the prospect is busy, it implies that you know that their time is precious and that you don’t want to waste it. It’s a promise of brevity and value before you even begin your elevator pitch. This will help influence the prospect to focus on what you have to say.
Step Two: Provide an Explanation
Salespeople tend to beat around the bush in order to not sound too eager or pressuring to land a meeting. The problem with this tactic is that not many reps actually get around to asking for a meeting before the call ends. That’s why Brudner recommends asking for a meeting with the prospect outright. But you need to do it tactfully. Brudner turns to an example from Mike Scher, the CEO of FRONTLINE Selling. Scher recommends saying, “The purpose of this call is to get 20 to 30 minutes to discuss how we can [provide an example of problem solving, such as reducing operating costs].”
Why 20 to 30 minutes after just stating that prospects want you to keep things brief? “Lots of times, people ask for five or 10 minutes,” says Scher, “all you're doing is indicating it's not important."
Step 3: End with a Question
Wrapping up the phone call with a specific question is the best way to land a meeting. Propose a specific date and time for the meeting and ask if that will work for them. Asking for specifics gives them less opportunity to blow off scheduling the meeting. If the prospect ignores the question at first, Scher simply recommends repeating step two with another explanation of how you can help them.