How long should you try to get into an account that will not allow you to set a first appointment?
Here’s the simple answer to your question: As long as the potential appears worth it, and you have no more promising accounts on which to call.
Let me explain. If the potential of the account doesn’t appear large enough to justify a significant return on your time invested (ROTI), then don’t bother. It’s not a good investment of your time. But that assumes, of course, that you have some other place to go, some other accounts to call on that offer a more likely ROTI. If that’s not the case, and you have little to do to occupy your time, then, of course, keep calling on this account until you find other more positive things to do.
But I don’t think that’s the real question here. The real question is “How do I get them to give me an appointment?”
While I don’t have space in this column to describe all the possibilities, let me suggest three proven ideas. Before I do, let’s put this in perspective. Remember the expression that goes like this: It is the definition of insanity to continue to do the same thing and expect different results. Or maybe you are more familiar with this one, which I use in my seminars frequently: If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.
In other words, if you keep calling and don’t get an appointment, it’s time to try doing something different. Here are three possibilities:
- Use a “pre-call touch.” That is a delivery that you make to the prospect that gets through to him/her, makes an impression, and conditions him to take your call. Here’s an example. Not long ago I received a FedEx delivery. My administrative assistant brought it right into my office and set it on my desk. When I opened it I found a bottle of diet Coke, a package of microwave popcorn, and a hand-written invitation to watch a web presentation later that week.
That delivery got through to me, got my attention, and made it much more likely that I would respond positively than if I just got a voicemail or email.
If your pre-call touch can in some way give some support to what you sell, that would be better. For example, if you sell signage, send them a mini-personalized sign. If you sell advertising, do a mock up of an ad with their picture in it. If you sell wood-working equipment, send them a piece of wood cut out by your equipment.
Catch the idea? By being creative and putting in a little time and effort, you can often come up with some pre-call touch to deliver to the customer that will get through to him, make an impression, and make it more likely that he/she will take your phone call and provide you that appointment.
- Find some way to meet them outside of the office. Once you make their acquaintance in an out-of-the-office setting, you have dramatically increased the odds of them taking your call and providing you an audience.
That means things like looking for them at trade shows and conferences, joining the associations to which they belong and actually going to the meetings, joining their civic and fraternal groups, etc.
- Have someone they know introduce you to them. If you can have a mutual acquaintance write a letter of introduction, or call and leave a voicemail recommending you, you will have improved your percentages immensely. You’d be surprised, once you work at this, how small and interconnected our world actually is. Just start asking everyone you know if he/she knows the person you are trying to meet. And I mean everyone. It could be that the guy who cuts your grass also cuts his grass. Or that your barber attends the same church your prospect attends. When you find someone who knows the person you want to meet, have your acquaintance recommend you to him, and then follow up with that voicemail message.
I realize that these three ideas may be outside of your comfort zone. But they are all proven, and in some cases, are the basis for a prospecting system. It may be a stretch for you to try one or more of them.
It’s your choice. You can try one of these “non-conventional” approaches, or you can continue to call and leave voicemail messages and be constantly frustrated. Remember, if you always do what you always did, you’ll always get…