Appointment Setting Is a Fine Art

September 16, 2010

Contributions By: Janet Quinn (An awesome Production Manager who knows her “stuff”)

Gone are the days of ‘smile and dial’ and traditional telemarketing methods.  Today, people do not have the time or patience to speak with someone who is blatantly a telemarketer and obviously reading from a script.  Telemarketers typically have an aggressive mentality and very rarely “listen” to what their prospects are saying.  Appointment setting, on the other hand, is a fine art.  The goal of an appointment setter should never be to set an appointment with just any company… their mentality should be to set an appointment with the perfect company.  Below are the qualities or attributes of a great appointment setter:

  1. Mirror prospects
    1. Every prospect is different.  A good appointment setter can determine the personality and/or mood of their prospect and mirror it.  If a prospect seems to have a good sense of humor, the appointment setter can “roll with the punches.”  If a prospect seems busy, the appointment setter will not waste time and will make sure to get to the point more quickly and efficiently.
  2. Reacts properly
    1. In a way, appointment setters are a lot like psychologists.  They must be able to react to their prospects without seeing their prospects eyes or body language.  They also have to be great listeners who are able to respond properly. 
  3. Knows how to say the right thing
    1. A great appointment setter will share just enough information and not too much.  They will be able to pique the interest of the prospect and qualify them to the clients’ specifications without over qualifying or over-informing.
  4. Able to get a point across to a busy executive quickly
    1. Executives are busy people.  It is very important to get the point across quickly and succinctly.
  5. “Goes for the gusto”
    1. The appointment setter gets the appointment; high-level executives do not intimidate them.  Once they have determined a prospect is a good fit, they schedule the appointment.
  6. Knows when “please send information” is a genuine request and not “please get me off the phone”
    1. Many people will request information just to get off the phone.  A good appointment setter can determine if a prospect is truly interested in receiving information.
  7. Is disciplined
    1. In order to make cold calls day in and day out, an appointment setter must have superior discipline.  Similar to surgeons, they must be precise and disciplined.
  8. Treats every call like a warm lead
    1. It is never good for a prospect to feel “telemarketed.”  The messaging and how the message is conveyed is critical.
  9. Is not aggressive
    1. No one wants to speak with someone who is aggressive and pushy; it is an instant turn-off and rarely successful.
  10. Makes appointments “stick”
    1. Anyone can set an appointment.  However, a good appointment setter will make the appointments stick.  The prospect must be genuinely interested in the product or service in order to set the appointment and keep the appointment.   

Reading The Small Print

August 30, 2010

More times than I can count, I hear one of my prospects vent on how they were ‘burned’ by another company in my industry.  It really frustrates me to hear that so many companies do business with such little integrity and/or pride in their work product.  Of course I always recommend that a company read the small print of any contract, but why does there have to be small print?  Is there a reason businesses cannot be open about what they offer and what they can do?  Here are three of the most common “promises” I hear from prospects that did not read the “small print” before they engaged the wrong appointment setting company: 

  • Promise:  We guarantee appointments!
    1. Burn:  “I was guaranteed x amount of leads and I got them… but the quality was awful!” 
    2. Our Response:  How can a company guarantee appointments without calling first?  So many factors go into a calling campaign such as the timing of the message, the brand identity of a product, etc.  Without actually making calls first, it is impossible for a company to guarantee you will get a certain number of appointments that are truly qualified.  Any company can say “we guarantee 50 appointments in 2 weeks” but Intelemark says, “We would rather set 10 highly qualified appointments with revenue potential than 50 appointments that will not be qualified and waste time and resources for your company.  Although we cannot guarantee the amount, we guarantee that we will do everything in our power to make your campaign as successful as possible…and you will get quality.”
  • Promise: We develop your script!
    1. Burn:  “They developed our script but I don’t own it.  I have never seen or heard the script and do not have access to it.  I have no idea what the company is saying on my behalf”
    2. Our Response:  As an extension of your company, we absolutely believe you should own the script.  Not only will we collaborate with you on the script as we write it but you also get the final approval.  Furthermore, we monitor the message to your prospects and their responses; we will continue to perfect the script until the message received by your prospects is fruitful. 
  • Promise:  We will provide your data at no cost to you!
    1. Burn:  “Sure, they provided the data but I do not have access to it.  When I asked for a list of the companies they were calling, they said they own the list.  How do I know they are not using the same list for my competitors?  How do I know that I am not calling the same companies on my own?  I cannot do a direct mail or email marketing campaign with any of these prospects.”
    2. Our Response:  We will purchase the data for you based on your criteria and you have full ownership of the list.  We do not re-use data for any other clients.  If, at any time, you want all your data back, we will provide it in quick time with all the updates we have made.  Not only do you get to keep your data but also it will always come back better because we update your prospects information on every call.  We also scrub your current prospects and clients from the list so that we are not duplicating efforts and/or annoying prospects and clients with multiple calls from different people.  

In summary, make sure to do your homework and read the “small print” if you have decided to outsource your appointment setting.  The company you choose is often the first impression of your company.  Intelemark definitely feels the responsibility of being a seamless extension of your sales team.  It is crucial to our collective success to make sure that you are getting exactly what you agreed to when you signed the dotted line.

Working From Home Helpful Tips

July 27, 2010

Susan, one of our amazing Production Manager sent these 10 tips for helping you have a productive work day from home.  Enjoy!

  1. Write out a daily task list, a production goal, and plan your day. There’s nothing like a task list sitting next to you to keep you focused. When you have a list of the things you need to accomplish in a day, having that close to you constantly reminding you of what needs to be done is a great way of keeping on track.
  2. Avoid checking personal email in the morning. Checking personal emails can be very distracting even with filters setup. This is especially true when your friends send you links to interesting articles, jokes or videos on YouTube. If you’re not careful, you can get side tracked for hours. Instead of checking your personal email as soon as you get to your desk, try starting work straight away. This will build up some momentum as you ease into your work day. Also, if you don’t want to perpetuate a particular distracting email thread, just don’t reply to it until after work.
  3. Listen to the right types of music. Music is a great way of settling into the working routine. Be careful though, depending on personal preference, some types of music are not particularly conducive to productive work. Soft jazz or classical music would be a good choice for our kind of work rather than songs with lots of lyrics because the words could interrupt the thinking process. (David Bowie’s Changes on the other hand is a perfect choice for house cleaning chores)
  4. Fill up a water bottle. Keeping yourself hydrated is pretty important for all sorts of health reasons. Instead of going to fridge with your glass every hour, try filling up a water bottle at the start of the day. This limits the starts/stops associated every time you get up for water.
  5. Find the best time. Most of us are more alert at the start of the day, so it’s better to work on things which require brain power early.
  6. Don’t make long personal calls. Most of us have a good separation between our working and personal lives (or a least try to). I think we can all agree we should avoid having work intrude on our personal time as much as possible. The reverse of this also applies. Try limiting the time you spend doing personal things during work as they can be distracting and draining on your motivation. For example, you do not really want to be thinking about your weekend away with your spouse when you really need to get things done.
  7. Clean up your desk. Some of you may have desks which can only be described as ordered chaos. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as long as you can find what you need without too much digging around. However, if you can’t, I suggest cleaning up your desk. That doesn’t mean having an empty desk, it just means having neat stacks of paper, all filed in the correct location. It also helps tremendously having all the things you need easily within arms reach. For example, if you need a place to write, having your pen and notepad close by and easily accessible is incredibly useful.
  8. Get a good chair. I find it’s pretty hard to stay focused when my neck and back are sore because I have a bad setup at my desk. A good chair can eliminate this, allowing you to work for long stretches without breaks and physical distractions.
  9. Close programs you’re not using.
  10. Change your mindset and make work fun. For me, I find it difficult to stay focused on doing things I’m not by nature interested in doing. In most cases, there’s probably nothing I can do about it. However, be mindful of the fact that your perception of work is something you can control. For my last tip here, I suggest you try changing your mindset or turning work into a game. An unfocused mind, is an unchallenged mind. So make things fun!

Have a wonderful week!

“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.”

Tony Robbins

When Is A Good Time To Outsource Your B2B Appointment Setting

July 21, 2010

Determining when the right time to begin your demand generation campaign is essential when building your company’s pipeline.  Budget, quarterly goals and timeliness of your message must all be taken into consideration prior to beginning your calling campaign.  A great campaign has been well conceived and is an overall part of the company’s strategic goals.  

Every campaign requires a “ramp-up” time.  Each company knows their closing cycle and must plan to launch the campaign to build opportunities for a specific timeframe or quarter. Furthermore, timeliness of the message is also critical.  Are you in a highly competitive environment?  If so, how can you differentiate your value proposition?  Do you have a well defined vision of your target audience?  Why would your prospect choose you over the competition?  These are all questions that should be considered prior to calling. 

But is NOW the time to start your campaign?  If your current flow of leads and your existing pipeline will not support your company’s revenue goals, now is the time!

Contact Intelemark to find out how we can customize a campaign to meet those needs.

Virtual Agents

July 14, 2010

I just read a very interesting article regarding virtual agents replacing customer service reps, “virtual agents” in this case being non-human.  In the article it said, “Thanks to advances in artificial intelligence (robots), companies will eliminate call centers with human reps (Business Week, 2010).”  Although it seems to be a rising trend as companies like Apple, IBM and eBay have joined the growing ranks of companies utilizing “virtual agents,” the idea is a little disturbing.  Since when would people prefer to speak with a robot over a human?  For the company, there is a huge cost benefit.  They pay 1/50 of what they would pay a live person.  However, what is the cost of frustrated customers or the many limitations of a robot?  I don’t know about you, but if I am calling customer service because I have an issue, the last thing I want to do is sit on the phone with endless dial options.  I want to speak with a live person and find a solution fast!  In addition, when my line rings I expect to speak with a person.  If the person or company trying to reach me is not willing to speak directly with me, how important can their message really be?

At Intelemark, we have often referred to our agents as virtual as well…though our meaning is quite a bit different from the “virtual” agents above.  We have virtual agents that work for us all over the United States.  This allows us the advantage of selecting the best of the best to call on behalf of our clients, as we are not limited to talent residing in one geographical area.  Furthermore, most of our agents would never work in a call center environment.  They are seasoned professionals that have been gaining experience in their chosen career for a long time.  Our virtual agents are great at having conversations with and qualifying a prospect for our client verses reading a script verbatim and “telemarketing” people. 

Endless studies have shown the importance of human contact.  Sure, technology continues to grow in leaps and bounds… but what are we risking by replacing human interaction with artificial communication?

Reference:

Bloomberg Business Week (2010) “Virtual Agents Will Replace Live Customer Service Reps.” Retrieved online at http://www.businessweek.com/debateroom/archives/2010/07/virtual_agents_will_replace_live_customer_service_reps.html on 7/6/2010.

New Intelemark Video!

June 30, 2010

Branding

June 30, 2010

Yesterday I was walking in a parking lot with my 6-year old daughter when she stopped me and said, “Mommy, look! It’s the American Idol car!” I wasn’t really sure what she was talking about and said as much as she became more persistent in her efforts to convince me of what we were looking at. Finally I asked her why she thought the vehicle was an American Idol car when she pointed to the Ford logo. I immediately understood that she related Ford to American Idol because Ford is one of the big sponsors of the show. As I praised her for being so smart, I couldn’t help thinking about what a great job Ford had done in branding their product. My 6-year old recognized a Ford vehicle and I recognized Ford as being a huge sponsor for American Idol. Two very different demographics, dare I even say young and old, can name their product and recognize their logo. Additionally, American Idol is a family show just as Ford advertises their family vehicles… smart? Definitely.

Throughout the day, I continued to mull over our conversation and how important it is to brand your product well. In a recent article I read, “It makes sense to understand that branding is not about getting your target market to choose you over the competition, but it is about getting your prospects to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problem (About.com, 2010).” Working at Intelemark and having worked in pretty much every department, I know that our company is different from our competition and we can offer what no one else can. Our data department is unparalleled, our staff is dedicated and overall, our company has a level of integrity that is unprecedented. So how do we go about branding that message? Finding out who our customers are (demographic), what our customers need (pain) and what we can offer them (solution) are the first steps in determining how to brand our product. The next step is meeting our customers exactly where they are. It is more than selling them a product, it is partnering with our customer to help them with their objectives.
In summary, “Your brand is the source of a promise to your consumer (About.com, 2010).”
What are you doing to promote your brand? Post your comments or questions to this blog, I would love to hear from you!

References:
Lake, Laura (2010). About.com Guide, “What is Branding and How Important is it to Your Marketing Strategy” Retrieved online at marketing.about.com/cs/brandmktg/a/whatisbranding.htm on 6/8/2010.

Quality vs. Quanity

April 1, 2010

One question I am often asked when speaking with a prospect is “How many leads can you guarantee?” My response is always the same, “I cannot guarantee you any leads.” You can only imagine the responses I get at that point… sometimes an awkward silence, a loud click followed by a dial tone or just a scoff. Many times I will have a prospect ask me why I cannot guarantee appointments when 5 other companies they have spoken with say they can. Fortunately, there are also a blessed few who applaud my response and are open to hearing what makes Intelemark so different compared to the other 5 companies with whom they have spoken. I assure you there are many differences between us and the other companies (I will exclude names to prevent embarrassment on their end).
I feel as if my prospects have been lead astray by believing that any company would be a great choice if they can guarantee quality appointments without actually calling for that company first. Let me preface my next statement by saying that any company can guarantee they can set 50 appointments in a month. Yes, that includes us. But, what they fail to share with the prospect is that the “guaranteed” appointments they will be providing are also most likely guaranteed to not be qualified! Although my title is technically “Business Development”, it should be “Business Development and Therapeutic Ear to Prospects Who Have Been Burned by a Company That Offers Guaranteed Appointments!” I’m sure you can understand why I cannot use that title every day. Although I am happy to be the shoulder my prospects cry on and although I am thrilled to show them there is a company that will consistently generate quality appointments to their specifications, it saddens me to think of all the precious marketing dollars that are wasted on quantity vs. quality.
So what types of guarantees does Intelemark offer? Intelemark guarantees that your company will be treated as if it were the only company we were working with and that you would have a quality team invested in supplying quality appointments. We make certain our clients are communicated with on a continual basis. We will be checking and confirming the quality of your appointments so that you are not wasting time and money on unrealistic opportunities. Our big picture mentality and seamless integration with your sales team are incomparable.
In short… a word to the wise; it is better to have 1 qualified appointment that will generate revenue than 20 unqualified appointments that waste the time and effort, not to mention negativity that impacts morale… believe me (remember the Therapeutic Ear title?), there is no value in quantity without quality.

Sky Radio Interview 2

March 24, 2010

Appointmentsetting.com

February 9, 2010

Intelemark is the parent company of appointmentsetting.com. Appointmentsetting.com is the expert in generating new business for our clients through appointment setting. We are a company dedicated to providing businesses, both nationally and globally, with the premiere appointment setting and lead generation services available on the market. We are capable of setting appointments on all levels including “C” level, “VP” level, or “Director” level appointments. We are dedicated to setting quality needs-based appointments for you and your sales team.

Why Appointmentsetting.com?
Appointmentsetting.com is unique in that our only service is appointment setting. We have experience assisting companies of varying sizes. We understand the immense significance appointment setting holds as a marketing tool, and therefore we focus all of our greatest efforts solely on appointment setting allowing us to achieve our highest level of success for your benefit. We are flexible and extremely capable of understanding and responding directly to the needs of your company.

Our Agents
Our agents are extremely capable of carrying on professional conversation with high level business executives. They are knowledgeable and trained to help your company increase sales by cold calling generating qualified sales leads and setting qualified appointments. Because we are a virtual company, our qualified agents are located all around the country. Our virtual status allows us to hire truly the most qualified agents without being limited by where they live. Coming from an environmentalist approach, we are proud of being a virtual company because it illuminates our 40+ agents from commuting to and from work on a daily basis. Just like a good salesperson does when qualifying a prospect, our professionals ask the questions that are required in qualifying the decision maker as a good prospect. This important step in the process takes place before the appointment setting phase of the call is even discussed.

Data Expertise
At Appointmentsetting.com, we have our own software developer on hand as well as our own proprietary software that allows us to create custom reports on virtually any level.