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Appointment Setting: How to get Hard to Reach Decision Makers on the Phone

Today’s outbound sales advice seems to be focused on two things:

Yet, a lot of sales reps are still struggling to hit their numbers.
And by numbers, I mean their REAL numbers.
If you run an outbound sales team you’ll only be employed for so long by having great open rates or call volume.
Sooner or later however, you need to produce revenue or you’ll be on the wrong side of a pink slip.
It’s that simple.
So, let’s first talk about the whole “PERSONALIZATION” thing.
It’s my opinion that most of the advice out there regarding this subject, misses the mark.
Trying to “warm up” the lead by mentioning you saw them in the news recently and “congratulating them on their recent funding” or whatever is simply a waste of time in my opinion.
The “PERSONALIZATION” should simply be you pressing a pain point / hot button that the prospect would have to have in order for them to be interested in your services.
One of the secrets to prospecting successfully is realizing that your business is only in business because it solves problems and produces better results for specific individuals and companies.
You need to know what those “markers are” and how to identify those prospects that fall into those categories and then craft the right message to pique interest.
Calling (or emailing) a targeted prospect and saying something like:


Isn’t going to cut it.
Instead, you want to hit a hot button.
Let’s say you offer sales training and your target audience is B2B companies in the USA / CANADA, with employees of 10 or more people and you normally speak with the Owner or VP of Sales.
Instead of saying:

“we provide sales training and I’d like to get on your calendar… blah blah blah”

A better approach would be:

“We show outbound sales teams in the U.S. how to overcome call reluctance. Our clients average a 22% increase in appointment setting and there’s a possibility we may be able to help you do the same”

Here’s a fill-in-the-blank template for you to try:

“We show ___________ in the _____ how to (PAIN POINT). Our clients average a _____% increase in (DESIRED RESULT) and there’s a possibility we may be able to help you do the same”

Here’s the point to the first part of this lesson on how to get hard to reach decision makers on the phone… You have to talk their language.
Meaning, you have to hit pain points / hot buttons that they have and that you can help solve.
Do that, and your number of callbacks and set appointments will rise.
The second part is CADENCE.
Everyone is looking for that perfect, magic formula of call, voicemail, email, social outreach cadence.
What works for one person in one industry will get disastrous results for someone else in a different industry or setting.
But here’s what I can tell you…
Chasing the wrong target is an expensive mistake.
So let’s focus on fine tuning what you need to do to produce better numbers.

Know Your Sales Prospect Profile

Last thing you want to do is chase prospects that aren’t a good fit.
One of the biggest mistakes I see sales reps make is going after anybody and everybody.
Narrow your focus.
You should be able to look at a lead and quickly determine if they have the basic necessities to pre-qualify as a suspect.
Here are some basic factors to look at:

  • Industry
  • Employee size
  • Location
  • Title

Once you know who your audience is and have the right messaging, you want to use your own experience to build out a cadence that works for you.
With that being said, I know everyone still wants to hear from others what “works for them” so I am going to share the one I get the best results from.
It’s really simple.
I’ll reach out three times in 72-hours and if I don’t get a response after that, I will do one of two things…

  • Set up a 30-day call task or
  • Remove the lead from my name and let someone else work it.

If on day one, I call, leave voicemail and send an email and don’t hear anything back, I will call and or email on day two and again on day three.
After that, I know the prospect has gotten my message and it’s either bad timing or no need. So why keep chasing them? I’m confident in my message and my pre-call research.
With that said, trigger events do happen and so if it’s an account that is right in my wheelhouse, I will schedule a 30-day callback task. Each month I will decide if I should continue outreach or let the lead go.
NOTE: If you can’t cycle through your lead list with a call once a month, it may be a sign that you have too many leads slowing you down.
Narrow your focus on your top prospects and fix your message and you’ll start setting more appointments with those hard to reach decision makers.

– Michael Pedone
Michael Pedone teaches outbound sales teams exactly what to say to get sales conversations started with hard to reach decision makers. He is the CEO/FOUNDER of SalesBuzz.com – An online sales training company.


Register for Our Next 8-Week OUTBOUND SALES Improvement Program – Live Online

  • How to Warm Up and Close Cold Leads
  • Eliminate “No, Thanks”, “Not Interested” & “We’re All Set” Responses
  • Neutralize Gatekeepers & Get Voicemails Returned
  • Ask Engaging Questions Instead of Probing
  • Improve your Qualifying Skills
  • Give Stellar Presentations & Handle Objections
  • Close Follow-up Calls and Get Targeted Referrals
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  • Improve Your Time Management Skills

Duration: 1 hour per week for 8 weeks
Where: Online @ your desk, conference room or home
Presenters: Michael Pedone