In this fifth blog of our 10 part series on Top Tips for Progressing Your Sales Leads, our VP Sales, John Macleod explores the next step in maximising the returns from your marketing efforts, and progressing ‘sales ready leads’ through the sales pipeline. The fifth step: Diarise the Appointment.
As we walk through the best practice steps of qualifying, engaging and progressing sales leads in this guide, I aim to bring your attention to some of the challenges that salespeople face, that can easily be overcome by implementing straightforward processes. In a previous blog post read the lead, we saw that it is all too easy to miss some important actions that may have already been agreed with the prospect. The one that I come across time and time again, is missed appointments, or salespeople chasing prospects to confirm appointments.
What is the solution?
The most effective process I have seen by far, is to have an appointment diarised in the prospects calendar immediately after the lead is qualified as ‘sales ready’. Usually the qualification call will happen with an inside sales rep, telemarketer or outsourced partner. What can often happen is that these individuals have no visibility of the salesperson’s calendar, or indeed it may not yet be known which salesperson will be picking up the lead. The time taken from a follow up action being agreed, and to a salesperson picking up the lead and engaging with it can sometimes be several days. By this point the call may be mostly forgotten by the prospect and so the chase begins!
There are a few possible solutions to this scenario;
- For a small sales team that may be split by territory for example, sharing your availability from your calendar will allow those people booking the appointment to agree the best date and time there and then with the prospect.
- For a larger sales team, allow those booking the appointment to agree a date and time that works for the prospect as the chances are you will be able to make it work. If not, it is much easier to reschedule an appointment, than to secure it for the first time.
- Set some guidelines based on your preferences e.g. only book meetings for a Tuesday or Thursday, or try to schedule meetings in similar geographies on the same day.
By implementing a process that locks the prospect in to the follow up action, a salesperson no longer needs to continually chase the prospect to engage with them. For the seasoned salesperson reading this you may be thinking “but I still want to speak to the prospect before I meet with them to further qualify”…don’t worry, I couldn’t agree more, we will get to that in the next blog. But as a precursor, it is much easier to reach a prospect to discuss the meeting you have diarised with them, than to chase them up following a previous call.
So, now that a follow up appointment has been agreed with the prospect, what now?
It is imperative that a clearly defined calendar invite is sent to the prospect as quickly as possible, in order to give the greatest chance of a meeting going ahead. Consider who is best placed to send the invite to make sure that this is achieved. It could be that someone sends the invite on behalf of the salesperson and copies them in e.g. inside sales representative, telemarketer, administrative assistant, or someone in the marketing team. If the lead is going to take some time to reach the salesperson, and maybe even longer for them to pick it up, do not leave this vital step in their hands.
Below are a few best practice guidelines to consider when sending a meeting request;
- Send a calendar invite within 24 hours of the appointment being agreed
- Include both company names and meeting description in the subject line
- Enter full address or conference call/webex details in the location
- Include a clearly defined agenda with proposed outcomes
- Include the full contact details of the attending representative
Remember just how challenging it is to get a marketing lead qualified and progressed all the way to the point of engaging with sales. Don’t let it slip out of your hands due to a poorly executed process….diarise the appointment!
Stay tuned for our next blog in this series of 10 top tips for maximising marketing leads through sales.
Don’t want to wait? Download our free eBook now to get your own copy of all 10 steps.