9 Effective Appointment Setting Tips for Financial Advisors
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Do you have to set appointments over the phone? If you have to cold call for appointments, here are a few tips and tricks to improve your appointment setting technique.
1. Call during the “off hours”.
This tip is especially helpful if you’re trying to reach high-level executives or business owners. These people don’t just punch in at nine and leave at five. The gatekeepers do. If you’re trying to get to one of these well-insulated people, try calling early in the morning or later in the evening.
In addition to increasing your effectives, calling during non-peak hours will earn the respect of those you’re trying to reach. Keep in mind, I’m not talking about calling people at home during dinnertime; I’m talking about calling an office, where the person answering the phone will think, “You’re working too?? I like that.” It shows that you are dedicated to your work, your company, and your service. You send the message that you are willing to go the extra mile for your customers.
Several old-school sales books and gurus might give you the advice of calling during lunch. While this sounds like a good idea on paper, it doesn’t pan out in reality. Dr. James Oldroyd at the Kellog School of Management studied more than a million phone calls and found that if you call between 8 and 9 a.m., you have a 164% better chance of reaching people than you do in the afternoon.
2. Use your marketing leads.
I never understood why so many financial advisors would put a lot of money and effort into their marketing, only to never follow up with the people who demonstrate interest.
Case in point: I know an advisor who has a great website. He spent thousands of dollars developing it and getting it to rank high in the search engines for his city/keyword. Think “Financial Advisor Dallas”. He also has a lead-capture form front and center, working for him 24/7. But guess what? Even though people were filling out that form (which he paid for!), he neglected to follow up with them.
You’ll have much greater success setting appointments with prospects who have already interacted with you or your company in one way or another. Make sure you’re following up with everyone who has filled out a contact form. If you offer whitepapers, webinars, or free eBooks, the list of prospects who’ve downloaded this content are prime for follow-up.
By the way, this isn’t limited to internet marketing. Make sure you get the full attendee list of any events you or your company sponsor. Make it easy for people in attendance to fill out a form and express interest in your services. This is one of the best ways to make setting appointments as easy as possible.
3. Realize that it’s going to take more effort than you think.
You must be patient, professional, and persistent. Success is not an event, it’s a process. With that being said, understand that people are busy and you must keep trying to in order to break through the noise.
Appointment setting isn’t just about cold calling, either. It can take as little as one or more than twelve touches to get someone to set an appointment with you. For appointment setting success, I recommend reaching out several times, using a variety of different media. This means direct mail, cold calls, handwritten notes, voicemail, email, social media, and more.
I would much rather think it’s going to take twenty contacts to set an appointment and be pleasantly surprised than think it’s going to take three and be disappointed.
4. Always ask for their time.
I know some of you might disagree with me on this. You think it gives them an opportunity to shut you down. Maybe, but bullying past someone doesn’t exactly set you up for long-term success. If a prospect says he/she is busy, just ask for a good time. If they really aren’t interested, think of it like they’re doing you a favor – you don’t have to waste your time with them!
Being the nerd that I am, I always like to test things. This has been MY personal experience….
When I was making hundreds of cold calls per week, I decided to test these sentences against each other:
I found that out of these six, “Did I reach you at an okay time?” worked the best. “Is now a bad time to talk?” was the least effective, with both of the “did I catch you” statements coming close behind. I’ve always felt that saying “catch you” is weird. It implies trapping and hunting, something that prospects don’t want to hear from you. That’s what originally gave me the idea to start saying “reach you”. Like I said, that has been my own personal experience, so take it with a grain of salt.
5. Focus on just that – setting the appointment.
Being straightforward serves two major purposes: it shows that you respect your prospect’s time, and it allows you to move on to the next qualified prospect in your pipeline.
When setting appointments, those in sales have a tendency to talk about everything but the appointment. They make the mistake of selling over the phone. They talk about themselves, their company, and their services, when all they should be “selling” is the appointment! Combine this with the prospect’s natural reluctance to meet with you and you have a recipe for disaster.
Get to the point quickly, set the appointment, and move on to the next one.
6. Anticipate objections.
Objections are not inherently bad – they are logical responses to an unsolicited request. In other words, they are just part of the prospect’s conversation with you and you should anticipate them.
Here are some objections you might hear:
Keep in mind that you may hear more than one of these. For example, the prospect might tell you that he/she isn’t interested and then say, “Oh, well I’m happy with who I have.”
I would never take the first “no” for an answer, but I wouldn’t spend all day on the phone overcoming objections. It’s just not worth fighting or arguing with a prospect. I would much rather move down the pipeline to find someone who is actually ready, willing, and able to do business with me.
7. Use a script.
Please don’t wing your appointment-setting process. If you do, you will never develop a systematized process that can be tested against. For example, if I constantly winged it, I never would’ve found out that “Did I reach you at an okay time?” was the best opening line for me.
This tip may sound basic enough, but you’d be amazed by how many financial advisors insist on winging their appointment setting. Your script must help you:
8. Actually ask for the meeting.
Okay, so you’ve used your script to help qualify your prospect. It turns out that it actually makes sense to set an appointment. Great! Don’t blow it here.
When asking for the appointment, be specific. Here’s an example:
BAD: “Would you like to meet with me?”
GOOD: “I have next Friday at 2:00 p.m. Can you do it then?”
Asking to meet on a specific time and date is a commitment. It shows mutual respect for both of your time and changes the question from, “Do you want to meet?” to, “When do you want to meet?”
Whatever you do, don’t use the “either or” close. I know it’s taught in a bunch of sales material, but it makes a kitten cry every time you do it. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s this:
CHEESY REP: “We can do tomorrow at 4:00 or Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. What works best for you?”
As soon as you do that, your credibility goes down the toilet. Every educated consumer will recognize that as a sales pressure line and react accordingly. Don’t do it to yourself.
9. Confirm your appointment the right way.
I haven’t found any formal studies on the number of advisors who confirm appointments, but my experience tells that somewhere around 30-50% of advisors confirm appointments with prospects.
I used to be scared to confirm appointments, because I thought it was just giving prospects another chance to say no. I had my thinking backwards. I thought that “no” was a bad thing. It turns out that “no” is a great thing. If you get rid of the “no’s”, you save time and resources for the prospects who are likely to convert.
Likewise, the confirmation serves to again insert you, your company, and your services in the prospect’s mind, which is always a good thing. However, there’s a right and wrong way to confirm an appointment.
WRONG WAY: Are we still on for Friday?
RIGHT WAY: Is there any additional information I should bring to our meeting this Friday?
By confirming the appointment the right way, you eliminate the chance of a cancelled appointment and refresh yourself in the prospect’s mind. I always recommend confirming an appointment via phone two days in advance. Do not leave a voicemail on the first call – if the prospect doesn’t pick up, call again the next day. Voicemail should be your last resort when confirming, after you’ve attempted to reach the prospect twice. If you are forced to leave a voicemail, go ahead and send an email as well. It’s a nice touch, and some people (like me) aren’t very good about checking their voicemails.
BONUS: Click here to get a free PDF with 15 of my favorite financial advisor prospecting ideas.