How to make a sales appointment via email (don't ask for it)

How to make a sales appointment via email

how to make an appointment via email

Time to read: 2.5 minutes. I was stunned. Happy and stunned. Because I figured a way to make a sales appointment via email. Yet it happened in a really weird way. I avoided asking for the appointment. Seriously. You should too. Instead, help the prospect self-qualify the appointment.

Through a quick exchange of short emails, prospects will become curious about your solution to their problem or goal. Curious enough to ultimately ask YOU for the appointment.

The more my clients and I practice this, the more appointments set. Can’t argue with that!

The short version

Success at making sales appointments via email is mostly about:

  1. not saying “too much, too fast” about you and NOT asking for the appointment;
  2. getting the prospect to tell you what is most important right now and
  3. sparking the buyers’ curiosity about how you might help them (not your solution).

Here’s the gist of what works: Reply to the prospect’s invitation (to talk about your “scratch to their itch”) by resisting the urge to talk about your product. Instead, help the buyer reveal “the conversation already going on” in their head.

Their real concern.

A proven cold email template (an example)

Here is a real life example and a proven cold email template.

One reader of this blog named Connor took advice from this blog and turned it into a response. I love when that happens 🙂

Here is the exact first touch / cold email template Connor used to earn the first response. 

Subject Line: Is this a fit for you, ___ [first name]?

Savings accounts, bonds, and CD’s are currently earning less then 1% while the cost of living rises at 1.7%. There are other places to allocate your resources that offer a competitive rate while retaining a low risk mindset for your savings and also provide tax advantages.

In the interest of time would a short email conversation makes sense? Let me know what you decide, _____ [first name]?

Thanks for considering,

The prospect responded with,

“Yes that is something I would be interested in discussing. What type of investment options do you offer?”

Why this worked:

  • Subject: Used trigger word (“this”) & provoked curiosity by being a bit ambiguous
  • The ask was not too large (he avoided asking for too much, too fast … no meeting request)
  • Message focused exclusively on prospect, not Connor’s value proposition 
  • Time to read was minimal (could be read & acted on via a mobile device)

What to say—so prospects will reply again?

Since then, Connor has been using a set of effective templates we developed.  He emailed me recently…

“Your technique for getting permission to have a longer conversation is working great, Jeff. What angle I should take once permission is given… or the curiosity has sparked a response? Do you have a proven approach to moving this situation forward and getting the appointment … or should I explain what the product I was referring to in my response?”

Short answer:

  • Beware, do not start talking about your solution/product… even if invited to.
  • Instead, ask a question to your prospect that is not biased to selling to them.

In other words, ask a neutral question… one that does not make customers vulnerable to a possible sales pitch when answering you. Focus attention on them.

This effectively earns another response (keeps the conversation going).

Example: Instead of Connor describing investment options he can offer Connor allows the prospect to continue describing why they just became provoked. Here is an 

Glad to talk about the options, Susan. First, what is causing your interest? Savings? Tax advantages? Is something happening with family life?

You cannot rush a sales appointment via email. It won’t work. Instead, spark the prospects’ curiosity. Again. Just like you did in your cold email template. However, now is also the time to over-focus on your prospect’s pain, fear or goal.

This often means resisting the urge to pitch even when invited to!

They will tell you how to respond

The idea is to help the potential buyer to guide you … so you can make the best response. Here’s how it’s done. In your first reply, ask them to talk about their situation a bit more. Also, if needed, reveal “just enough” about what you have in mind to keep them curious about what (exactly) you’re thinking about recommending.

This helps build a conversation about what is most important to them—not what you’re selling. Show the prospect you only want to talk about them (for now). Write in a way that helps the other side feel safe. Help them to vent frustration, fear or excitement about what’s important to them—at this exact moment.

This helps the buyer become more open to being curious about your solution. Even if they may not (yet) realize they need what you’re offering.

Want to see this in action? Join us in this live, online workshop.

Over-focus on a pain/goal (not the appointment)

In Connor’s case, the prospect responded by asking about investment options. That’s what Connor sells. He used a “near-term buying first-touch” approach. And the buyer is curios about his solution to the problem. Success!

However, this can be a dangerous situation.

The best way forward in the “second touch” email is over-focusing on the prospect. Here’s what I mean.

In Connor’s case, the buyer is opening the door to talk about his solution, the product. However, it’s best to resist this temptation. And never ask for the meeting via email.

Instead, attract the appointment to you. This is how to make email work for you. (not the other way around!)

To earn another reply, ask one brief but purposeful question. Two max. This will prompt your reader to reply in a way that qualifies the lead. It also helps you know how, exactly, to respond and move the discussion forward.

For example, Connor should reply,

“I will be glad to talk options, ___ [first name]. But I need to know more about you, please, to help. Are you invested in CD’s, bonds (low rate options) now? Are you doing everything possible to protect yourself from outliving your retirement savings?”

Also, notice above how Connor plants a seed of doubt in the mind of the prospect in the final sentence. This helps the prospect want to hit reply without delay—telling Connor what is on their mind right now about protecting themselves.

Take it slow. This may feel un-natural at first. But that’s why we practice it… using templates and guides. A few of us also get together in twice monthly workshops … to perfect our techniques at earning sales appointments via email.

Trigger an avalanche

New customer prospects will actually tell you what will (eventually) trigger them to buy. Sometimes in the second email you receive from them. Choosing your words carefully will trigger what I call an avalanche response. You’ll get a bunch of information back, fast.

The goal of your second email message is not to pitch your wares nor set an appointment. Instead, it is to:

  1. earn another reply, (keep it very short!)
  2. trigger an “avalanche” response, (allow your buyer to become emotional)
  3. pin-point the buyer’s exact pain or objective. (so you can address it)

By identifying what matters most to the buyer you’ll know exactly how to reply. You’ll do so in a way that builds credibility and curiosity in your solution. Remember: An emotional reply from a prospect validates how important a given issue may be to them. Additional curiosity (more questions) indicates the lead is a good one.

Bottom line: Your second email message should yield a response that qualifies the lead. Try to trigger an avalanche by tapping into the emotional element. Each reply a prospect sends you should be telling you exactly what to talk about in your next email message. That’s how to make a sales appointment via email!

A stream of curiosity

In your replies, always answer questions the prospect asks—but do so in ways that create more questions in their minds. Hold a little back. This helps create more curiosity. This helps you attract the appointment to you. The buyer will see the appointment as a way to short-circuit all of this emailing. He or she will want to get right to the point with you!

Structure the way you reply. Be deliberate about it.

Don’t be coy. This isn’t about trickery or dangling a carrot in a way that will annoy the prospect. Be direct and specific. Yet hold back on the details. This will help your prospect feel an urge to ask you about them.

Good luck!

Photo credit: Drew Leavy

About the Author Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander is the authority on starting sales conversations online. He teaches a proven, effective and repeatable communications process to spark buyers curiosity about what you're selling. He's a sought-after sales prospecting trainer to individual reps, teams of sellers and small businesses owners across the globe. He's an accomplished entrepreneur, having co-founded the Google Affiliate Network and what is today the Performics division of Publicis Groupe.Jeff also serves as adjunct digital marketing faculty at Loyola University’s school of business. His book, Off The Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You, is first to offer businesses a clear, practical way to create leads and sales with technology platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and blogs.

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