Appointments, as we all know, provide historically higher closing ratios than walk in traffic. Let’s take a step by step look at what we suggest will give you a higher attendance rate and lower rate of no shows: the EventFlow Appointment Setting Method, based upon positive “real life” results from major college sales, symphony sales, and various offsite weekend sales. The best way to communicate this method is to walk through it chronologically. There are two brands of initial inquiries: one which provides a phone number along with an e-mail address and one which only offers an e-mail address for follow up.
Two strong opinions form the basis of this recommendation:
Opinion #1 “Live” dialogue is almost always more valuable than electronic communication. It establishes rapport, moves the sales process along, and deepens the salesperson / customer relationship. Opinion #2 Appointment confirmations should be confirmed (as granddad used to say) in writing.
Let’s follow the path of the one which does not provide a phone number. Your first goal is to convert the inquiry into a prospect who is willing to actually speak to you.
Let’s first examine step one:
When a lead comes in without a phone number, your first job is to place yourself in the position to acquire one. The best way to acquire a phone number is to ask the right questions. Example: “Was there a piano on the inventory list you may want to know more about?” The purpose of the question above is two-fold. One to get a sense of the prospects level of overall interest, and two, to obtain the opportunity to speak with them “live” on the phone. Sell the value of live dialogue! Example: “If you give me a call, I can better help you find the perfect piano based upon your needs.” When leaving a message, leave one which solicits a response. Example: “Diane, this is Joey. I have some new information I think will be important to you. Please call me back at your earliest convenience at xxx-xxx-xxxx. I look forward to hearing from you!”
Whether it’s a product feature, special financing, or an instrument you just got in, you want them to experience it. Be prepared to offer them something of substance when they return your call. Also, remember that sales is a numbers game. If you have plenty of LeadFlow, each individual attempt is important, but not so critical that it puts you in desperation mode. NEVER convey that vibe; it’s a relationship killer. The overwhelming majority of “serious piano shoppers” want to find a specialist they can trust. Someone who can advise them and help them find the perfect piano for them.
If a prospect is totally against talking live, they are either more curious than serious, or just totally prefer to communicate electronically. Most serious buyers will desire conversing. If they don’t and they prefer e-mail and/or text, it may be their preferred method of communication and they will continue to exchange meaningful dialogue. If they don’t continue dialogue or provide their phone number, they are probably not serious. Disqualify them. Spend your valuable energies on the prospects that you can qualify. Place disqualified prospects into your long term follow up email list. Remember: a “No” today doesn’t necessarily mean a “No” tomorrow. A phone number is a great filter, a great qualifier, and puts you in a great position to “sell the appointment”, which is the next step.
Selling the appointment. There is a valuable client resource document entitled “Responding to PI Leads Method” which goes into great depth about the prospecting follow up activities we recommend. It states, you do not want to go into great detail, but speak in generalities and windows when engaging prospects. You never want to give a prospect enough information from a distance that they make decision without you. It is critical that you sell the opportunity (which in this case is the appointment), NOT the piano. You should never be rude or not answer a question. The manner in which you do respond is critical to your success. If a prospect is asking about a specific piano they have seen on your web site or an inventory list, be free with sharing the benefits and history of the instrument. Be sure to speak in terms of windows when referencing price. The number one complaint of most sales representatives when it comes to follow up is that the consumer becomes irritated when not given a price over the phone. Very often, this exchange is the last dialogue that occurs. The prospect is trying to satisfy psychological need for security in knowing that they won’t pay too much. They need to be convince that this is a premature decision. Price truly just doesn’t matter yet.
Job #1 is to get them to understand two things:
One: You want to help them find something in their price range and you want to help them save money. Promise them that if they are serious about finding the perfect piano inside of their budget, this appointment will be their best opportunity. SELL THE APPOINTMENT, not the piano. They should never know the exact price before they know the value of the item.
Two: Pianos must be experienced. People cannot possibly make a good decision about the value of an instrument without touching, feeling, hearing and experiencing it. Pianos are in some ways like people: every piano has its own personality and you must find the one that best fits your needs. If you promise to present a great opportunity and save them money, they should be fine receiving a “ballpark” price. Trust is the key.
You must SLOW DOWN long enough to be sure that the prospect believes you have their best interest at heart. Remember this fundamental: They won’t care what you know until they know that you care. Don’t ever think you don’t have time to make a friend. It is the most important ingredient in a good closing ratio. Here are some specific dialogue examples of how to overcome the “what is the price” question:
A Successful Approach/Exchange:
Diane, I understand that price is important and I can assure you that when we find the perfect piano for you, we will save you an incredible amount of money. You were asking about a used baby grand piano and we have those available starting in the $5000 range all the way up to $55,000 in this special sale inventory. I’ll be happy to find the most budget-able piano that you like. The absolute best way to choose a piano is to see, touch, feel and hear one. Wouldn’t you agree?
I want to be your guide on your journey to find that perfect piano for you and this sale is the absolute best opportunity you will have to find the piano that fulfills your specific needs. Setting an appointment at a time convenient for you will insure the very best opportunity to make a great choice. You will be happy with your new instrument. What day would be best for you? Thursday or Friday?
Objection: “Well, I don’t want to waste your time or mine if I can’t afford it. That’s why I need to know the price before I commit to an appointment.”
Overcome with: “Diane, even if I had permission to give specific prices over the phone, I still wouldn’t think it is a good idea. As I said, until you take the opportunity to see, touch, and hear these pianos their value will be a mystery to you. That is why I strongly recommend an appointment with a promise to show you instruments you can best afford. I know that we have pianos in every price range. What price range are you most comfortable with? Closer to the $5000 or $55,000 range? or something in the middle?”
after they answer: “Super, I know we have several in that price range for you to choose from.” Very rarely do sales like this come along. Steinway and Steinway designed are rarely discounted, so this truly is a great opportunity to save money. “Would Thursday or Friday be best for you?” You have now overcome the objection, so nail down the time.
What about cutting down the “no shows” ratio? When you have the prospect in a position to make a commitment to a date and time, DO NOT read them a confirmation number and ask them to write it down. As mentioned earlier, do what grandpa taught you – get it in writing! Ask them for their e-mail address and let them know to expect an e-mail with the date, time, directions, and their confirmation number.
Explain that as soon as they receive and acknowledge receipt with a return e-mail, that their number (and therefore their date and time) will be validated. This accomplishes a very important thing… allow me to be primitive and use this term: it set’s the hook. By reading in the email that you’d like them to notify you if they can’t make it so you can award their time slot to the next person in line, it adds value by invoking the old “take away” position.
Here is an example of a successful e-mail confirmation text:
I am glad that you have expressed interest in attending the Firestone College Piano Sale Friday January 22nd at 2:00pm. Your confirmation number is: 75189A. Upon receiving a return e-mail from you, your date and time will be confirmed.
The sale will be held on campus in the Firestone Music Department Building located at 472 College Ave. North. FREE Parking is available for attendees in the south parking lot next to the entrance. There will be signs on campus directing you for your convenience.
Please accept my gratitude for your interest in the Firestone College Piano Sale and we look forward to seeing you there.
Steinway Event Coordinator
Firestone College Piano Sale
P.S. Should an unforeseen conflict arise, please inform us ASAP by e-mail or calling the piano sale registration desk at 1-888-555-2387 so we can award your slot to the next person in line.
If you do receive a return e-mail from the prospect in a timely manner, be sure to call them and remind them that to secure their date and time, you must have the return e-mail. Force the commitment to be reinforced. This method of appointment setting will dramatically cut down on the number of people who take their appointment too casually. It will therefore increase the attendance vs. a sale ratio. Confirmation numbers handed out over the phone are less effective. Create another round of communications and the necessity for the prospect to recommit to the appointment in writing.
At Prospects International, we operate as an agency who is an active “think tank” where lead generation and conversions into “live” opportunities are created and communicated.
We learn and share successful methods with our clients (many of which come from our clients) on an ongoing basis to remain a valuable source of sales leads and advice on how to optimize them. Advice which originates from the trenches where the real work gets done.