You have several options when choosing a method to set appointments for your business or company. Your choice will also depend on whether you set your own appointments or whether you work with a team and/or report to a supervisor. Your options also depend on the industry and the type of appointment: face-to-face presentations such as for insurance, or a service-type business where there are specified times and a limited number of spaces available.
Telephone Appointment Setting
The scenario of a salesperson sitting at the desk dialing number after number and reading from a pre-set script is becoming less and less common. Sometimes lists of prospects are “warm” lists: the people have already expressed an interest in the product or service and are expecting a call to set an appointment. Up until a few years ago, calling number after number from a list of “cold” prospects—those who have not been pre-qualified for their interest, hence the name “cold-calling”—is much less effective. Most people today have Caller ID and/or voice mail and usually cannot be “caught off-guard” by just dialing their number. Additionally, telemarketing techniques such as cold calling now have many legal restrictions because of abuse.
If you do operate from a “warm” or “hot” list of prospects, your success rate will be much higher. However, use of a script is recommended for standardization and to save time on each call. Practicing calling from a script is necessary so you don’t sound like you’re reading that script.
Electronic Appointment Setting
There are scores, if not hundreds of software applications that can assist you with appointment setting, especially if you are doing business-to-business appointments. Many people actually prefer to communicate through email, as it is less intrusive of the workday. Additionally, appointments set by email or via a software application generates an instant written record that is identical for both parties.
Many larger businesses are standardized on Microsoft Outlook; but more and more companies are now using online-only applications such as Google Calendar or similar internet-based applications. The benefits of using online applications is that they can be accessed from anywhere at any time.
Self-service Appointment Setting Software
Retail and service businesses can use software that allows clients to schedule their own appointments. After registering and logging in, the client can see what slots are available and put themselves in their desired date and time. This type of software is relatively new; the benefits include software especially tailored for the type of business, and the ability to save time by having the functionality to access the software at all times. The cost of the software investment can be more than offset by the time saved and having a dedicated staff person just to answer the phone.