Here’s how to win on the phone.

I have to admit, this one was a surprise but it just goes to show that when you stick to principles, it pays off.
The client: a national office and industrial relocation company
The prospect: a company with a 70k sqft office and warehouse building and a scheduled relocation
I reached the CFO of the company who politely but firmly told me that they had already fielded quotes from 3 other movers and were not interested in any more. I pushed and told him that my clients references were the best he would ever see. He responded by saying that the competition also had excellent references. Then I asked for his email address saying that I’d like to send him a company bio and references “just in case”, and he gave it to me. I sent a brief email (with some outstanding letters of reference attached) and a brief note saying that if he’d allow my client to bid I was sure he’d be very impressed. A few hours later his assistant called and asked when our rep would be available to come in and do a walk-through. 3 weeks later, my client won the bid.
The takeaway—you must never accept “no” for an answer. Keep politely pushing; they will respect you for it and it will make the difference between winning the business and going hungry.

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You are invited—please join us!

If you have questions, comments, ideas, brainstorms, notions, or gems of genius to share regarding the craft of the cold call and the challenges of scheduling appointments, don’t be shy, drop us a line. We would love to hear from you and have your participation in our forum.

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Key Ingredients

In cold-calling and appointment setting, these ingredients may be summarized as: persistence; unwillingness to accept “no”, thorough research, and relentlessness (which is a subset of persistence).

The following anecdote is not specifically related to sales, and yet applying the principles illustrated will yield success in sales and cold-calling.
Some years ago I was the road manager of a blues band. The group traveled all over the country in a Dodge Maxi Van 3500 (one of those extra long jobs). In between tours, I was driving the van around LA and noticed a strange sound that resembled a baby’s rattle. It didn’t seem to affect the way the van drove so I didn’t pay it much mind. At this time the van’s mileage was somewhere in the high 70k range (say 78,500). The band booked a tour and we took off for Colorado and Idaho. As we climbed into the Rockies I noticed that the van, which could easily pull 80 mph up a mountain with a full load, was having trouble going 50. The problem got worse and worse and when we finally limped into Ketchum, Idaho, I took it straight to a mechanic.

The diagnosis was a bad catalytic converter, which the mechanic demonstrated by holding up the just-removed bad part and shaking it around. It sounded like—you guessed it—a baby rattle. Since it was a specialty part (California has special emissions laws) it was $600+ for the part plus another $400+ for the repair. Ouch, but what could I do? By now the mileage was about 80,276

When we got back to LA after the tour, I cracked open the owner’s manual and discovered that the engine and drive train were only under warranty for 50,000 miles but that the catalytic converter and transmission were warranted for 80,000. If you’ve been reading carefully, you’ll remember that when I was driving around LA and hearing that baby-rattle sound, the van was well under that 80k limit.
So I picked up the phone and called Dodge customer service and said the following, “Hi, I’m hoping you can restore my faith in humanity today, here’s what has happened…”, and I told her my story, explaining that I had been hearing the death-rattle of the catalytic converter long before the odometer hit 80,000 but had no idea what the sound was. The customer service rep listened carefully and then asked, “Did you have the repair done at a Dodge dealer?”. I replied that I had not. “In that case, I won’t be able to reimburse you the cost of the repair but I will reimburse you the cost of the part. I get people calling me almost every day trying to hustle me but I know the ring of truth when I hear it and I know that you are being straight”. I faxed her a copy of the repair bill and the receipt for the catalytic converter and a few days later, I had a check for $600+. Accomplished with a single 10-15 minute phone call.

So, what’s the takeaway? First, read carefully—that’s how I knew that I had a case to make. Second, don’t hesitate to ask for what you want. The Dodge rep was not bound by the warranty. She could have said, “Tough pal, you should’ve taken it in to find out what the noise was. It was out of warranty when you broke down, too bad”. But I pled my case and she felt my pain. Her action forever left me with a warm, fuzzy feeling for the Dodge Motor Company, knowing that they went above and beyond the call of duty to make a customer happy.

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Don’t Mince Words

The client: An Avaya partner
The prospect: a mid-sized accounting firm with 80 employees

I got my target on the first try, a pleasant occurrence. As I started my pitch, he brusquely cut me off, saying “What’s this about?” I quickly recovered and said, “I understand that your firm may be considering a move, we are an Avaya partner and I wanted to see if you might be considering upgrading or purchasing a new phone system.” Then I clammed up.

There were a few seconds of uncomfortable silence and then he said, “I’m gonna tell you something Steve, I get at least 6 of these calls a day and I don’t talk to any of them, but I’m going to talk to you.” Surprised, I replied, “I’m always looking for ways to improve my approach, please tell me what it was that separated me from the pack”. His response was instructive: “Most salespeople call me up and ask a million questions. They want to know, ‘what kind of system do you have? How old is it? What features does it have? Are you happy with it?’ And on and on and on. I’m a busy guy and I don’t have time to play 20 questions. I asked you why you were calling—a simple question—and you told me. I really appreciated that”.
He went on to tell me that they were, in fact, going to be moving, asked me to send him an email and follow up in 4-6 weeks, which I did. The next time I spoke with him, I scheduled a meeting.

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Face Time with Top Companies

Here’s why we are the best (false modesty isn’t our strong suit):

Over the past several years The Appointment Source has helped our clients meet with internationally recognized companies such as Sage Software, Quest Diagnostics, Avery-Dennison Corporation, Cathay Bank, Wedbush Morgan Securities, Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith, and Worley-Parsons, resulting in many millions of dollars in sales and ongoing contract work.

Get in touch, we can help your company too.

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However Important You Think This is…

…multiply by a hundred for its true value. I say this because I have countless tales exactly
like this. Read on…
Client: High end office furniture vendor
Prospect: A technology company (we’ll call them XY Tech) with a big office expansion underway

I reached the person in charge and was told “our architect is handling our office furniture requirement and has already chosen our vendor”. I replied, “Oh, would you mind giving me the name of the firm? We like to stay in touch with architects and interior designers for future reference”. He gave me the architect’s name and phone number. When I phoned, I explained that I had gotten their number from XY Tech and before I could go any further the architect interrupted saying, “I’m really glad you called, here’s what I’m looking for: 45 8×8 cubicles, 2 conference tables, 28 private offices, reception and lobby furniture…” and on and on she went, giving me color specs, fabrics and everything. She even emailed a floor plan along with the complete list of needed furniture. Two weeks later, I found out that my client had won the bid. The takeaway—Always.Follow.Up.

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The Single Most Important thing in action!

Here is a perfect example—
Client: Office moving company
Prospect: A 250 employee marketing firm with offices, warehouse, and machinery to be moved.

I reached the VP of MFG who was willing to schedule a consultation to discuss the warehouse and machinery relocation. When asked about the office side of the project (which was substantial) he gave me the name of the person responsible but assured me that a vendor had already been chosen for that part of the project. I contacted the person in charge of the office portion of the move the following day and immediately booked a meeting with him. Always verify with the responsible party. No exceptions.

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Victory is Sweet!

The prospect: a major health care organization in Orange County, California.
The client: a cabling provider.

The prospect was planning a 500 employee office/call center—a huge opportunity for my client. When I called, I was told, “We’ve already spoken to several cabling vendors and will make our choice from among them. In any case, the project is being handled by our IT director in our Colorado office. If you send me your information I’ll pass it along and if she’s interested she will contact you”.
Knowing full well that this would be an exercise in futility, I looked up the company’s Colorado number and got through to their IT department. The person I reached was female so I knew I had the right contact. She confirmed what I’d been told: they had already met with some cabling vendors and would choose from among the proposals already received. I responded, “We have some of the finest client references in Southern California. I would like to email you our references and a link to our website. All I ask is that you take a few minutes to review our references and have a look at our site”. She agreed to do that and sent me an email confirming receipt of my email.
I had planned on giving her 5 days before following up but, to my great surprise, she called me 2 days later at 8 am. “Hello, I’ve reviewed your references and they are really outstanding. I’ll be flying to California next week, can one of your people meet with me at the job site?” Of course, I scheduled the meeting immediately.
The result? Our client booked the job—a $500,000 piece of business. The takeaway—never rely on a third party to deliver your pitch for you. Get the decision-maker on the phone and work that person as hard as you can, always.

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The Single Most Important thing to remember when making a cold call.

Never take anyone’s word without verifying that they are the person in charge of handling the issue you are calling about.
I recently made a cold call on behalf of one of my firm’s clients, an office and industrial moving company. The woman who answered the phone attempted to blow me off saying, “we are already working with a 3rd party” and claimed that my client’s services were not needed. I then reached the Facilities Manager and discovered that, although they were considering using a project manager to assist them, they were wiling to meet and take a bid and proposal from my client. I scheduled the meeting and our client has submitted their proposal which included a large office relocation as well as a complex industrial relocation involving heavy machinery.
Never allow yourself to be dissuaded by gatekeepers and underlings who have no decision-making power. Their job is to throw you off the track.

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A call for questions and requests

The Appointment Source welcomes questions and requests from readers. If you have a question about our business or about appointment setting and the sales process in general, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us via our “Contact Us” form.

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