Published 31. Jan. 2020
How To Get Appointments With Decision Makers
Reaching the decision maker can be a difficult and time-consuming task, but using the right strategy can effectively increase your chances of getting a face-to-face meeting with your prospect.
Here is a story that many salespeople would find familiar – You’ve done your research, found potential prospects for your company, got their contact details, but then you hit one of these scenarios:
- Nobody is answering your calls.
- You’re leaving voicemails and emails but not getting any callbacks or replies.
- The gatekeeper is blocking you from the prospect.
These challenges are certainly not new, and have been the bane of many professional salespeople looking to land their first face-to-face meeting with the prospective clients.
While getting the opportunity to talk with CEOs may be difficult, here are some strategies to help you to successfully reach your prospects.
Gatekeepers are often receptionists, secretaries or assistants, and are usually the most trusted and closest individuals to the C-suite. As such, they are a valuable asset for you in reaching the decision maker and closing your deals.
- Tip #1: Be respectful and polite
No matter how frustrated you get with the gatekeeper, remember that it’s their job to screen unwanted and irrelevant calls. As with any business meeting, first impressions are important. So make your first impression, and all ongoing impressions with the gatekeeper, be one that is polite, personable and professional.
Start by treating the gatekeeper with respect. Note their name and details, and use the information to engage with them on a personal level. Have a conversation and keep tracks of touchpoints to use in future contacts with them.
- Tip #2: Be transparent
Gatekeepers screen hundreds, if not thousands, of sales calls so it’s common for them to be wary and skeptical of you. Differentiate yourself from the rest, and be upfront about your call. Give them your company name and a brief overview of the purpose of your call, if they ask.
Full disclosure helps you sound professional and credible enough to pass through to the C-level executive. But avoid using the sales pitch and sales-related phrases on the gatekeeper.
Even with these tips, you may not get through the gatekeeper on your first call, so work to establish a strong rapport with them. Set reminders to ensure that you constantly and consistently reconnect with them.
The time you choose to contact your prospects has a big effect on the possibility of getting past the gatekeeper and reaching the decision maker. Whether you are calling their office line or you are fortunate enough to get the prospect’s direct number, try contacting your prospects during off-hours.
- Tip #1: Call early in the morning
Unlike the gatekeepers, business leaders don’t follow the usual working hours. You have a better chance of bypassing the gatekeeper if you call before the office day starts, such as between 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m., when the C-suites are planning for their day before their meetings.
- Tip #2: Call later in the day
Another optimal time to get past the gatekeeper is after business hours when the gatekeeper has gone home for the day. However, a study by HubSpot shows that the best time to call is between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. after the decision makers have wrapped up their meetings and are catching up on their emails and paperwork.
Each C-suite has a different schedule and workday, and optimal calling times vary between the industries and businesses they are in. Try calling at different times of the day for different prospects.
One of the most common decisions when calling prospects is deciding whether to leave a voicemail. If you do decide to leave a voicemail, what should you tell the decision maker? And even if you leave a voicemail, what are the chances the prospect would call you back? Try these tips below to raise your engagement rate.
- Tip #1: Leave a brief and concise voicemail
Your voicemail should be less than 30 seconds and should contain your name, your company, your contact details and your valid business reason (VBR). Your message should not be a sales pitch, but should include your prospect’s pain point and enough information about your solution to pique their interest.
It’s also best if you had prior contact with the prospect before leaving a voicemail, such as connecting with them through LinkedIn or sending them an email. This gives you something to use as reference and increases the likelihood of engagement.
- Tip #2: Send a targeted email
If you have done your research on the prospect, you would already know their pain points and their area of interest. Use the information to create a personalized email that reflect a deep understanding of the prospect, their core needs and how your company can help them with their business concerns.
However, sending one or two emails won’t be enough. You should maintain a regular and consistent email scheduling for higher chances of getting a reply.
Using a combination strategy of voicemail and email helps you to get on the prospect’s radar more effectively. However, some prospects may require more attempts before you are able to connect with them. The key is to ensure a strong first voicemail message, which you should refer to in your following voicemails, and to send a follow-up email right after leaving your message.
An article by XANT, a sales engagement platform, mentioned that majority of C-suites prefer referrals over cold calls and emails. In fact, 84% of business decision makers initiate a purchase process with a referral.
- Tip #1: Leverage on networking
A well-developed network helps greatly in getting face-to-face meetings with prospects, and social networking services, such as LinkedIn, speed up the process of reaching them. One way is to connect with your prospect on social platforms or join LinkedIn groups that match your product offerings to build your second-level connections.
Events, such as B2B networking events by Management Events, are great places to get closer to your prospects. Decision makers who are interested in a topic or event that corresponds with your product will be more responsive in listening to your offerings.
- Tip #2: Ask for referrals
The people you are connected to will most likely know business leaders who would benefit from your products and services. Reach out to your friends, colleagues and network to introduce you to the prospect via email, phone or in person.
Make sure that you explain the business reason and impact of your solution to your referral sources. This way they are equipped with the right information when they speak to the decision makers, and are confident in using their relationship to connect you with the prospect.
Building an effective network requires continuous effort on your part. Even if a referred prospect is not doing business with you now, you should thank them and continue to stay in touch. After all, they could be a client later on or another source for referrals.
Appointment-setting is a big yet time-consuming part of sales, and requires multiple and continuous effort to get a response from the decision maker.
Instead of fixating on securing a meeting or getting a deal, focus on providing value to the decision maker. By changing your mindset, you will feel less frustrated when encountering roadblocks in contacting the prospect.
Patience, persistence and a consistent calling schedule are key points in getting that important face-to-face meetings with C-suites.