Filed Under:Your Practice, Sales Marketing

Sell the appointment first

John LandrineOne of the reasons so many life insurance agents and financial services advisors have trouble setting appointments over the telephone is they do not sell the appointment. To set more appointments by telephone or by another medium, you have to sell the appointment itself. That is, you need to sell the value of the appointment by itself. Sell the appointment just as if it is a distinct and separate product or service.

Too much information

The common mistake agents make while cold calling is they sell everything but the appointment. The cold calling agent first sells him or herself: credibility and trustworthiness. The agent continues by selling his or her company, agency, products or services. The agent then sells the benefits, their advantage over the competition, and so on. While this appears to make sense, it is a critical telephone-prospecting mistake.

The big decision

When you try to justify the appointment by promoting your services, products and company, you force the prospect to accept your services, products or company, in order to set the appointment. You pressure the prospect into a big, difficult buying decision just to set an appointment. What you should rather do is help the prospect make a simple and easy decision just to meet with you.

At this early stage in the relationship, many potential clients honestly believe they will not do any business with you, and there is nothing wrong with that. You have not yet done your job of uncovering the problems, showing the prospect the need and giving them a reason to do business with you. Do not try to change the prospect's mind before you have even met.

What is the value of the appointment?

Rather than promote the benefits of your services, promote the benefits of the appointment -- the meeting. Help the prospect understand that he will gain, benefit or receive something in return for the investment of his time just by meeting with you. As a professional advisor, your prospective clients should gain some tangible benefits just by spending time with you, whether they make a purchase or not. Think of what those benefits are and sell them.

Perhaps one of the benefits the prospect receives from your appointment is the important information and industry news that you bring. On the other hand, maybe there are some valuable tax-saving ideas you can share. Better still, perhaps you can point out some new ways clients can save money on their children's education.

Don't overcome objections; just sell the appointment

Also, do not try to overcome objections; instead, continue to sell the value of the appointment. When the prospect objects to an appointment, the objection is usually a buying objection. In response, the agent tries to overcome the buying objections, when, in fact, the prospect should not even be thinking of buying at this point.

Here is an example:

Potential Client: "Like I said, I am really not in the market for more insurance right now. Money is tight, and the economy is too slow. I don't know what's going to happen."

Advisor: "Oh, I understand how you feel, Mr. Prospect. However, our investment products are the most affordable on the market and pay great returns. In fact, they can actually help you save money because we may be able to reduce your tax liability. Not only that, but should some emergency arise right now while cash flow is tight ... blah, blah and etc. ..."

The agent tries to sell a product or service, and therefore, to set an appointment, the potential client virtually has to agree to buy. Instead, just sell the appointment:

Prospect: "Like I said, I am really not in the market for more insurance right now. Money is tight, and the economy is too slow. I don't know what's going to happen."

Advisor: "Mr. Prospect, please don't misunderstand me. I'm not asking you to buy insurance or anything else right now. In fact, I have not even earned the right to ask you to consider doing business with me yet. No. What I am saying is that, in a short 30-minute meeting, I'll give you a better idea of how we work, plus some advanced news of the tax changes coming next year that will help you stay ahead of your competition. Mr. Prospect, the important reports and information I'll share with you over a cup of coffee will save you thousands of dollars over the next year, whether we do business together or not. Would Tuesday be good to sit down for a few minutes, or would Friday be a little better for you?"

Just sell the appointment and you will set more appointments on the telephone!

John Landrine (www.writebusinesssolution.com) is a sales trainer, business consultant and author who helps clients with articles, sales and telesales presentations and manuals or live training in direct sales and telephone sales, motivation and goal setting. A former CEO/GM with 25 years field experience, John also provides article, book writing and ghostwriting with strong SEO, keyword-dense content; marketing plans, sales strategies, sales process and funnel design and CRM consultation. He is author of "How to SEE on the Telephone" and other revolutionary concepts such as "Money Mouth" and "S.O.S. -- The Science of Selling." Contact John at john@writebusinesssolution.com.

For more from John Landrine, see "Project a professional image over the telephone."

For more calling tips, see:

Cold calling: Get out of your comfort zone

Calling your new referral prospects

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