Raise your hand if you wish you had more quality appointments each week. My bet is that nearly 100 percent of you raised your hand. Almost every salesperson and sales manager I speak to these days is talking about how difficult it is to get quality appointments. Ironically, at the exact same time that getting quality appointments has become perhaps the most important activity for growing business, it has also become one of the most challenging parts of the sales process. The reasons for this are nearly the same in every market, and they sound like some variation of the following:
• Advertisers have so many people calling on them that it’s hard for a salesperson to break through.
• Salespeople don’t have enough time to do the quality lead-generation and appointment-setting they need to do.
• Prospects are hiding behind voicemail and e-mail, and it’s becoming more and more difficult to get their attention.
• Prospects are doing much of their fact-finding on their own. They are looking for ideas, suggestions, and resources online and not even involving a salesperson at that stage of their journey.
Wouldn’t it be great if you had a steady stream of leads coming into your sales department every week? Even better, wouldn’t it be amazing if this steady stream of leads were actually qualified sales leads? Read on and I’ll share some of the things we’ve learned, and five steps you should take to significantly improve your lead generation and number of quality appointments.
Before you jump to any conclusions, let me put you at ease (or maybe disappoint you). I don’t have a quick-fix scheme for teaching you how to quadruple your quality appointments in 30 days. Instead, what I have is a concept that I know works. The idea is driven by developing a thought leadership position for yourself and your business, then setting up a marketing initiative that will help interested prospects find you and want to meet with you.
The general idea here is not a new one. Using marketing to attract prospects is, after all, the business that you are in. But setting up a marketing program that will allow you to be seen as a thought leader is key to success, and, if it’s done right, you will have prospects raising their hands and asking you to reach out to them to discuss how you might help them.
Here are five steps you need to take:
1. Share your expertise. Commit to publishing new content often. When you publish, you will want to share your knowledge, giving your customers and prospects your thoughts and opinions on the subjects they count on you to know a lot about. Do this in the spirit of education, not to sell anything.
2. Share it everywhere. As a colleague of mine always says, “Sharing is caring.” You can start a blog, publish directly on LinkedIn, or decide that Twitter is how you will show your thought leadership. Or you might want to publish in audio, and post a regular podcast or videocast. The key here is to share it everywhere. Make it as easy as possible for your prospects to find what you offer at the exact moment they need it.
3. Look for ways to engage those most interested in what you have to say. Create e-books, webinars, white papers, videos, etc. Again, your goal here is to share your knowledge with your prospects. As your prospects read more of your articles and download more of your premium content, they will certainly be starting to see you as an expert.
4. Make the time. Set aside time each week to do this. As I said earlier, this is not a quick fix. It takes discipline and commitment, but if you do this and you do it the right way, you will see the results.
5. Give prospects a great reason to get in touch with you. Perhaps offer them a free consultation or product trial. If a prospect has been interested enough to read your work, and to watch your videos, attend your webinars, and download your e-books, and now is requesting a free trial or demo, then what you have here is a true qualified sales lead.
Matt Sunshine is EVP of the Center for Sales Strategy. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org