Stop for the count
Before you add that appointment setter to your web site stop and look at the number of times you are asked to set an appointment.
Make it easy on yourself. Look at the last week or month. Compile four lists: Clients, Prospects, Referral Sources, Trusted Advisors and Unknowns:
- Clients—These are the folks you are working with now. You have a key contact in each organization. There may be others in the organization that want to meet with you but if you have no relationship as yet they are not a client. They could be a Prospect, a Referral Source and infrequently a Trusted Advisor. Until you clarify their status they are Unknown.
- Prospects – are the people you have identified as someone who can hire you, has the funds to pay you and has a problem they believe you can solve. If they don’t meet those requirements the probability of an engagement is nil. It is possible they could be a referral source or a trusted advisor but in truth they are a unknown until you talk to them.
- Referral Sources – can come from a meeting, speech or publication. But if you are like most consultants the Pareto rule is in full effect. Eighty percent of your referrals come from 20% of your clients, client alumni or known referral sources.
- Trusted Advisors —are the professionals you refer to clients or prospects. You trust them to deliver their capabilities for you and whoever you steer to them. These are folks that will call you for a meeting.
- Unknowns —are just that. You need to clarify their status in your connections hierarchy before you decide what to do.
Direct versus Digital
I’ve yet to meet an elite consultant or one that wants to be that has sufficient inbound interest to need a Digital appointment setter. The only number from the above count that matters is Prospects. There are independent professional practices that could use an appointment setter. Possibilities include Financial Planners, Insurance providers, Real Estate agents, Dentists and so on. But in the B2B world that is not a problem.
Prospect age is a factor
Younger people (under 35) prefer to keep a digital distance from suppliers. They tend to be transaction rather than relation oriented. They are uncomfortable telephoning to set a meeting preferring instead to text or use an appointment setter on a web site. They will defer direct contact as long as possible.
Position makes a difference
If you are targeting the C-suite, you need to put yourself in the place of that corporate officer. Their normal journey to come to the conclusion to talk to you looks like this:
Why senior officers follow that path.
It’s lonely at the top. Often there is no one on the staff that is thinking far enough in advance to see the problems that a CEO may identify. She or he may have colleagues in similar positions or in the same industry that are considering what is coming. They may have suggestions as to who might be able to help. That CEO can learn a great deal about you by reviewing your web site. If what they see intrigues them they may request more information. They will review what you provide, vet your testimonials and the results. Then, because they don’t waste time they will call you. In smaller companies they will call you direct. Larger firms my have an assistant call to set an appointment at your convenience. The point is they will call you. They will not go back to your web site to use an appointment setter.
The missed connection argument is not valid
Providers of the appointment software will tell you that you are missing opportunities. That is true for organizations that target transactional appointments but is not valid if your business is dependent on the relationships you establish and engagements that may extend over years.
Keep your calendar at hand
Answer every call and be prepared to make that discovery appointment. You’ll spend less on software and get significantly better results.
And so it goes…
Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com
His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing and Brand development advice that builds businesses, careers and lives of joy.