The salesperson's first test: Making an appointment via email


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We all use email to agree on a meeting time. Unfortunately it's terribly inefficient, especially when it’s done incorrectly. A salesperson who is sloppy about it will drive the new, potential client nuts and make the client wonder if she really wants to do business with the salesperson. It is the salesperson’s first test. You'll want to pass it.

Here's an example of good form:

 

Hi, Judy. 

 

I understand you want to see a demo of our SuperBigProgram. 

 

I’m able to do this with you at these times - all EST. 

 

Mon April 8 from 2 - 5 EST

Wed April 10 from 11 - 3 EST

Fri         April 12 from 9 - 12 EST

 

Please let me know if anything works for you within these ranges, or suggest another day/time. I will send you an invite with a link to the WebEx meeting. [Or, if it is a phone call: “Please also tell me which number you'd like me to call.”]

 

Thanks. I look forward to speaking with you. 

 

[Sig - with name and FULL contact information, including name, title, website, email, physical address, and phone number.]

 

I also suggest that your email "from" be your name and phone number (as in, "Kristin Zhivago 401.423.2400") so that people never have to open your email to find your phone number. The worst thing you can do is send emails without any contact info at all. Everyone uses emails to find the phone numbers of people they want to call.

 

Note that the example above:

  • Immediately states what the email is about.
  • Clearly states the time zone for all times listed. 
  • Gives the customer several date/time ranges to pick from.
  • Gives the customer an opportunity to pick an alternative time.
  • Confirms the next step - online meeting or call.
  • Will allow the entire appointment-setting process to take place in three emails - his first one, her response, and his confirmation. 

I just tried to set up an appointment with someone in sales, and it took 7 emails, just because the person didn't read the brief, but carefully composed email I had sent. He then didn't provide the requested information, nor mention that he was on Eastern time (his company is located in California, which implied he was on Pacific time). He's in my toaster now and has a limited amount of time to get his act together.

 

You can waste precious, tone-setting emails just agreeing on the time zone! 

 

Don't flunk the salesperson's first test. Be careful, and very clear.

 

Comments

Good Idea

Hi,
I've been following your newsletter for a couple of years, and while it is about revenue creation, I have learnt pretty good things from the same.
I work in tech. product management in India, and most of my client meetings are across different time zones. The shortcuts you suggested are very reasonable, and a great way to a) ensure a response from a customer b) simplify the process of responding. Will definitely try it out now.

Glad you're going to try it

 Glad you're going to try it. There is also an app I use on my iPad called Friend Clock. You can use it to list the time zones where you typically have clients, and give that time zone a name (either its usual name, such as Eastern Standard Time, or the name of your client, for example). It will tell you what time it is in any of the time zones you set up. Nice and handy. 
 
Good luck to you.
 
kz

In today’s world of

In today’s world of cut-throat business competition, companies and enterprises are making use of only the most effective means of business promotion, and email marketing is one of these mediums. Businesses find email marketing beneficial because of its ability to be highly adaptable to today’s constantly changing business world. Thanks for sharing these tips Kristin!

Sorry, Meagan.

 Dear Meagan. 
 
Thanks for showing my readers how NOT to comment on a blog post. Normally I would delete this obviously self-serving message but it's just so instructional. And yes, even the generic flattery at the end would not entice me to keep this up, outside of its instructional value. 
 
The world is currently awash with this fake affection; one wonders why anyone would think that someone was sincere while being so swarmy. 
 
I mean, did you read your own message? Have you considered my audience? CEOs, entrepreneurs, marketers, salespeople and product managers, all of whom have been using email for marketing for YEARS. Who on earth are you talking to - telling them that "today's world" contains "cut-throat competition"? Duh. That email marketing is "one of the mediums"? As if they didn't know that already.  
 
This is obviously a boilerplate message that you are posting to blogs, and I can tell you now that this kind of methodology will do your company more harm than good. 
 
kz
 

I think she's just(meagan)

I think she's just(meagan) telling the truth. I'm a businessman and I can probably say that it is very obviously true.

I'd be more impressed, "John" . . .

 . . . if your comment actually led to a site. As it is, it looks like more spam.
 
Besides, "businessmen" I know don't say things like "probably say that it is very obviously true." Probably? Very obviously? Sigh. 
 
Nice try.
 
kz

Don't Take Email for Granted

Nice article Kristin. I think email is becoming the go to form of communication for most people and as such it's almost becoming too casual.
 
So many times I see junior sales people type out an email and just send it off without any review or even a spell check. I believe that it is so important in today's sales environment to be focused, direct and clear about what you are trying to accomplish at all stages of the sales cycle especially in the crucial beginning stages (i.e. setting an initial appoint via email). At this stage a strong relationship may not exist and being clumsy or unclear in your emails could lose you your seat at the table. As always good food for thought.
 
Thanks! Steve.

Non-generic flattery...

Kristin,

Thanks for this post, as with all of your blogs, I found it helpful and well articulated. I'm currently suggesting that many of the sales leaders and sales managers I work with subscribe to your blog for the practical, no-nonsense advice you provide.

Specific flattery aside, I'm interested to know how adaptable you find this short, snappy email approach, in gaining traction with a brand new prospect, where there has been zero or minimal prior contact?

In my experience, the single hardest nut to crack in sales is establishing that initial spark of interest. Whether its outbound tele, email, social media or event driven, often getting the first nibble of interest is where enterprise sales people struggle.

Appreciate you may have covered this topic already in prior blogs.

Thanks and regards

Cian

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