Growing Your B2B Small Business with Robert Poole

Appointments, Appointments, Appointments...Right? (Part 1)

May 24, 2021 Robert Poole Season 1 Episode 73
Appointments, Appointments, Appointments...Right? (Part 1)
Growing Your B2B Small Business with Robert Poole
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Growing Your B2B Small Business with Robert Poole
Appointments, Appointments, Appointments...Right? (Part 1)
May 24, 2021 Season 1 Episode 73
Robert Poole

When it comes to B2B, we are all focused on getting in front of our prospects. If you are successful, that’s only the first step. What do you do after setting an appointment, and how do you maximize your effectiveness? This is part one of what and how to do this. Take a listen.

Show Notes Transcript

When it comes to B2B, we are all focused on getting in front of our prospects. If you are successful, that’s only the first step. What do you do after setting an appointment, and how do you maximize your effectiveness? This is part one of what and how to do this. Take a listen.

Hey everyone. It's Robert Poole with the Growing Your B2B Small Business Podcast. Today, I wanted to talk about the subject of in person and virtual appointments. No matter how good you are getting an appointment with a decision maker, it means nothing if you don't handle it right. Let's get started.

Do you have a small business that sells to other businesses? If so, you probably know that there are plenty of resources for companies that market to consumers or companies that sell to large and Fortune 500 type of companies. But what about the small businesses in the middle who sell to other companies? Where do we go to get answers? How do we grow our company consistently while still keeping our sanity? That's the question and this podcast is the answer. If you're listening to this podcast, you're part of an elite group of achievers who aren't willing to settle for just a 9:00 to 5:00 job. You're one of the heroes in our society and you should be proud of it. Welcome to the tribe and welcome home.

Hey, everyone. I hope you're having a fantastic day today. In the last episode, we talked about dealing with the quote, haters and the jerks that we all encounter in business and what to do about it. It was worth a listen if you missed it. Today, I want to talk about what happens after we get an appointment set with the prospect, whether that's in person or virtual and how we conduct that appointment for maximum effectiveness and how to use it to move the sale forward. But let's first take a step back and talk about appointments in general and sort of the philosophy behind it. We are, in my company, SalesDouble is in the business of cold calling and setting appointments and generating leads for our clients in a variety of industries. And the common thing that I think a lot of the clients that we run into is they really misunderstand the value behind leads and they get over focused on appointments and appointments in themselves really mean nothing.

What you're looking for is a good quality prospect, whether that's somebody that you're corresponding with via email, whether you're talking to them on the phone or whether you're physically meeting them. It doesn't really matter. It's the quality of the prospect which is what matters. And people get fixated on the whole idea of an in person appointment, which is the wrong way to approach it. But first of all, if you're not doing the selling in your company, I understand. I personally don't do a lot of the selling anymore in my company, but just hang with me on this, because this episode is still relevant to you for a couple reasons.

First, you need to be able to teach your salespeople how to do some of this stuff. They're going to look to you as the leader and you need to be able to spot problems they have and get an idea of what they're doing right and what they're doing wrong. And so you can help them and let's face it, we're all actually selling. You just may not realize it. You're selling it to your employees, you're selling it to people you talk to and just in casual conversation. You are in sales if you're a business owner and if you're an entrepreneur.

Go back to appointments, appointments are not a panacea as I said. Yes, they indicate a stronger interest than maybe somebody who says, "Just send me something," but not necessarily. We talked about this, I think early on in this podcast about the different types of leads that you'll get, anywhere from a hot lead, that's an appointment, to one that doesn't appear so hot, but you never really know what you're going to find out when you do it. And who is the decision maker actually connected to? What other businesses they have and so on. You might look at a lead or an appointment and say, "Oh geez, this business is way too small." Or, "I don't want to waste my time with them because they don't seem to be big time," or whatever the reason is that is turning you off and think about the other aspects of it.

Because like I said, I've run into so many situations over the years with our company where you kind of feel like you're prejudging somebody and you find out later, wow this person has all the right connections and everything else and this is really going to work out good for both parties. Not only don't pre-judge leads or appointments, but don't force it. In our business, we are in the appointment setting and lead generation business as I said, for our clients. And there are a lot of our competitors who offer things like pay for appointment. They'll say, "We'll charge you $50 for every appointment we set," for instance. Very common in the commercial insurance industry or insurance in general and you see that.

And from our philosophy from day one is that's a major mistake because it puts the incentive on the wrong motive there. The reason we pay our cold callers hourly, with occasional bonuses is because of we don't want them to beat somebody up just to get in the door for an appointment. Who really wants to go out on an appointment where the prospect isn't interested, they don't show up or has no idea who you are? Let's face it a skill cold caller can get an appointment with just about anybody. Some people will agree when we just get the person off the phone.

Don't get stuck on this idea that wow, an appointment's worth $50 or a $100 to me. Really again, depends the quality. I remember years ago when I was working at Merrill Lynch as a stockbroker in the late nineties, I think it was I was cold calling and then sometimes you get walk in business and that sort of thing and they'll just assign whoever broker happens to be available and that was me at the time. And sometimes you get phone calls as well.

And there's a guy who called in and claimed he had these, I think they were Chinese bonds or something. And he claimed that he had millions of dollars of these bonds, physically the certificates. And I set up an appointment with him to go to his house and meet him. And I got my mentor involved who was a more senior broker. We talked to the big guys back on the trading floor in New York and they got quotes on some of these bonds and figure out what they're worth and all this kind of stuff. And so we went out there and this sounded like a very lucrative deal, a great appointment. And I live in Arizona and this was in Scottsdale in a very ritzy area where there are very nice houses. And so we pulled up to this house and it was one of those nice houses with the courtyard in the front with a little gate and everything.

And we rang the doorbell from the outside and out comes this guy and older gentlemen, with a pony tail. And I'm not kidding you, he was naked except for a very small bikini thong type of thing. And at first we were like, what is this? But I was young and my business partner were like, well, we're there. We went in and talked to this guy and it was one of the weirdest experiences I've ever had. And it was just crazy. It was, in the other room we could hear some guy moaning and groaning and I had no idea what was going on in that house, but it turned out this guy was just fricking nuts and these quote, bonds, he had were bogus and everything, but so that appointment, although it sounded good or whatever, it was a complete sham and an enormous waste of my time, my mentor's time, the people in the company and back in New York, et cetera.

And so just an appointment in itself means nothing. And really, and for the the opposite of that, and there's really three types of appointments you can get or three types of leads, I should say. There's a lead, that's the hey, I'm not that interested, but you can send me your stuff and follow up or whatever. Then there's the, I'll talk to you at a specific time sort of a phone appointment. And then there's okay, yeah, I'll meet with you. And it appears that everybody wants to all meet with you because that would appear to be the strong interest. But again, you have to look at what the result is, not the prospect that we're not in the business just of prospecting, just to get appointments.

That's not the point of it. The point is to close deals. And we did a study years ago with a client and went through all of the leads, the phone appointments and the actual in person appointments that we got him over several years and he went back and matched those with all the deals that he's closed from those prospects and it was literally almost evenly divided amongst the three categories. Almost 33% type of thing. It was close. But when it came down to it, is that he got just as many closed deals from the ones that were quote, send info type of leads, versus the in person appointments or the phone appointments. Really had no difference. And again, people get fixated on this idea that the appointment is the ultimate holy grail. And that for some reason, if it's an in person appointment or these days a virtual Zoom appointment or whatever, that that's what we all want.

And yeah, it's some indicator of interest, but it really in the longterm, it doesn't mean anything. What matters is the prospect and the interest of the prospect and what we're trying to do. If somebody cold calls me, I'm not necessarily going to agree to a meeting and I'm probably going to act like I'm not interested in whatever it is, even if I'm very interested and it's just the way I handle things. And there's a lot of people like me. And so you never know what you're going to get again. The point is you got to do the quality prospecting work to get it done.

And you have to keep in mind that even in person appointments are a spectrum of interest. It's people show up, I've had clients over the years show up to a meeting and they're literally, they're ready to close the person, ready to sign the deal. And this person doesn't know him from Adam. They have no idea if this person has any interest, if it's an appropriate product or service for them, et cetera. And they're expecting everything to be just kind of, excuse me, handed to them. And it just doesn't work that way. You're going to have people that just want to shake your hand and introduce yourself and you're going to have to go back five or six times before you can actually do some business with them. You're going to walk into somebody who's like, wow, you landed here on the right day. Let's do this right now and everything in between. Appointments in general, you have to understand the philosophy behind it before you even get started in the mechanics.

Let's say you've got the right mindset on that and so how do you actually show up to an appointment? How do you deal with gatekeepers and other people besides the decision maker? One of the things that I've seen over the years and it's just a huge mistake people make is people will come in, a salesperson comes in and they talk to a receptionist or an assistant or something like that. And they think, oh well, they're just the pion or whatever. They're not who I need to impress. And it's wow, that is totally backwards. The receptionist, the assistant, the other administrator people that are in between that are working with the decision maker have way more influence than you will ever have on them and you have to sell them probably more than you have to sell the decision maker because the decision maker is probably going to look to them and say, "What did this guy act like?"

I know when I talked to somebody and they leave, I'll ask the people that work with me, I'll say, "Hey, what'd you think of this guy? Does he seem legit?" And all those kind of things. And so their opinion really matters so you better treat them with respect and you better win them over. And that's just a basic thing. And some of these things are, if you've been in sales or business for any length of time, this is all obvious stuff. But I think sometimes we forget about it. I do it myself. You get so used to doing things and then you slowly start slipping in some areas and then it takes a little wake up call, and reminder how to do some of these things.

And how do you actually present yourself from a physical standpoint? A guy, and this is probably 15 years ago, but there was a guy that we had set an appointment for. I think it was a business broker somewhere in the Northeast and he went out and showed up to this business owner's place to talk to them about selling their business and blah, blah, blah. And somehow the prospect actually got our information, the caller who had cold called him from our company, he figured out how to contact us back somehow, which I'm still not sure how he did that, but he found us and he called us and said, "Hey, I just wanted to let you know that the client you're working for that came out, this guy, I appreciate you're sending him out, but what a goofball. He was a nice guy, but he showed up in a blue leisure suit," and then they went on about this guy. And I'm sorry, but we always say, "Blue leisure syndrome."

Basically, if you go and screw up the appointment, it's not the fault of our company, which set the meeting, so to speak. Even if you said it yourself. But so, common sense, dress for what they expect you to look like. If you're in accounting and you're talking about accounting services, look like an accountant. What are they going to expect you to look like? If you're a financial planner, they're probably going to expect you to wear attire, look professional. Again, all this should be obvious, but it's a way of prospects expecting a certain image that's in their head. If you're in heavy equipment for construction sales, for instance, you're obviously not going to go out there in a suit because that's going to turn off people in that industry because they usually don't dress like that. And so find out what other people are doing if you're new to the business, for instance.

Other little things, be five or 10 minutes early. Again, people like me will refuse to see you if you're late and you just lost the deal right there. That's physically a couple tips on when you first show up and again, these are basic things, but we all need reminders. Let's say you get in with a decision maker and this is where it comes to a structure. And I think a lot of these things again, too many salespeople just sort of wing it and they show up and it's just a conversation that goes all over the place, with no real intention and no agenda and no specific ideas on what they want to accomplish and how they're going to do it. I think the obvious, basic thing is creating that initial rapport and some sales will do that just by BSing about whatever and that fine. But I think if you can be more intention with that, it's more effective. The whole NLP and mirroring and matching and that type of thing.

Tony Robbins has got a great program, Mastering Influence, which talks quite a bit about that. And basically all that is, is how you use your body and how you speak when it comes to mirroring and matching. For instance with your body, if they lean forward in the conversation behind their desk or something and you're sitting there, you lean forward like they are. Not right away, but after some period of time, 30 seconds or something. They cross their legs, you do the same thing a little bit delayed, of course. Over time, they subconsciously start getting the impression that you're like them. And same thing with speech. And as I said, we have cold callers that do calling nationwide and we do our best not to get a caller who's from the Deep South with an accent calling into New York City. They'll get blown out.

Let's face it, people from the South generally speak slower and northerners sometimes perceive them as stupid because they're speaking slower. And it goes the other way, too. Northern speakers, they speak fast and Southerners will look at them and go, "They're just a slick talking a-hole," You've kind of got a match the prospect and what they're expecting and again, be like them, so to speak. If your prospect is speaking fast and almost angrily or whatever or harsh, use the same speed and the tone. You may feel stupid, like they're going to catch me or something, but they won't. It doesn't sound stupid on their end because they'll be like, oh, this person is like me. And I know personally that works very well.

And probably the single biggest thing if you get nothing else from this episode that you need to come across as genuine and caring about them and their concerns and not your solution. If your product or service is not going to help them, then you need to let them know that you're not going to sell it to them. This is where the trust comes into it and why it's so important. If they trust you, they're much more likely to do business with you. That's probably 80% of the sale is creating that trust.

Other things you can do to create that initial rapport, observation, what's in their office? What knickknacks do they have around? Pictures? Find some kind of common ground. Do they have a Baby Yoda sitting on their desk? That tells you that one, they're into Star Wars and probably into superheroes and that type of thing. And so if you happen to have that in common or can talk about that, then great.

And listening, lean forward and nod your head, say, "Yeah, I hear you." And confirm what they're saying. This is again, such a basic thing, but people forget about it. Smile. It's disarming. And you can say anything with a smile, as they say. When it comes to how you come across and everything, all of this is predicated on having some confidence and getting rid of the nervousness. I think that's one of the biggest problems people have in appointment they get with somebody is that, particularly if it's a big deal, they're super nervous and they don't know what to say and they get freaked out. And I think the main reason for this, and this is something that I've definitely struggled with over the years, particularly when I was younger, but you need to be okay with not doing the deal, whether you're desperate for the sale and trying to pay your mortgage or not.

That's a different problem, but you just cannot be fixated on this sale and have too much emotionally invested in it. If you're depending on this deal only, you've got problems for one. And one of the big problems of salespeople have is that they get into managing leads instead of generating new ones and letting the cream rise to the top. When you've got enough leads in your pipeline, that gives you the confidence and makes your life easier so you don't feel pressured, you get your one lead you're working type of thing. If that one doesn't work out then you're in trouble. The way to get rid of that and get that confidence is to have more leads.

Third, I think you need to take that attitude that you're there to serve and to see if you can help them. And if you can't, that's fine. And make that clear to them, get that across that, "Hey, we don't have to do business. I'm just here to find out if it makes sense for both of us." The whole process is very simple. You find out a little bit about them, decide if your offering makes sense and if so, make them an offer. Simple as that. You can't and you shouldn't twist their arm and try to manipulate them into a sale. It's wrong, it's immoral, it's ineffective and it's just plain stupid in my mind.

A lot of salespeople end up focusing on ways to quote, trick the prospect into buying, by either bending the truth or even flat out lies I've seen and misrepresentation or just fancy sales techniques that's kind of trick the person into signing on the dotted line, so to speak. And those are all the reasons that salespeople have a bad rap. Like that episode I did a while back about salespeople. Those are really not the professionals in my mind.

Apologies for the abruptness of this, but I'm going to interrupt my thoughts on this one. This episode ended up being much longer than I normally would, but I didn't want to leave out any content so I'm going to stop the episode here and I'll pick right up where I left off on the next episode. Thanks for listening and I'll talk to you soon.

Thanks for listening today. I hope you learned something that you can implement right away. I know your time is valuable and it's really an honor to serve you. Please subscribe and rate the show in your favorite podcast platform and give me your honest feedback. Also, I put together a short ebook on some of the top lessons I've learned in 20 years, owning a B2B business. You can download a free copy at