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How to Set Appointments that Stick

How to Set Appointments that Stick

“When cold calling, how can our sales team make strong appointments that stick?”

Setting sales appointments have two common problems:

  • Initial interest (“No, thanks, we already have someone that takes care of that,” etc.)
  • Cancellations / No-Shows.

These two common sales challenges aren’t a byproduct of sales. They are a result of using improper sales techniques, methods, and strategies.

In short, the salesperson set the wrong goal for the sales call before picking up the phone, and, therefore, has guaranteed themselves a high failure rate.

When we set a goal or a “purpose” for a sales call (in this case, to set an appointment), we tend to go directly to that point to try and achieve it.

A BAD BUT COMMON example of a sales call for setting an appointment might go something like this:

SALESPERSON: Hi, this is (your name) with (your company). We provide (blah blah blah), and I’d like to see if I could get on your calendar sometime this week. Is Tuesday or Thursday better for you?

PROSPECT: Uh, I don’t think we would be interested. We already have a company that does that.

One of the biggest mistakes appointment setters make is they have the wrong purpose/goal or objective of the call, to begin with.

The only way to increase the odds of a prospect wanting to meet with you and keep the appointment once they set it is for the prospect to want to meet with you more than you want to meet with them.

And for that to happen, they will need to have a big WHAT’S IN IT FOR THEM understanding.

3 Steps to Setting Appointments that Convert

Step #1: Build a Highly Pre-Qualified Prospecting List

This would seem obvious; however, I continue to hear sales reps say, “we can sell to anyone” when asked who their targeted audience is.

You want to build your prospecting list around your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile).

One of the fastest ways to burn out in telesales is by making high-volume calls to people that would never buy from you.

When it comes to outbound cold calling, your prospecting focus should be deep, not wide. Narrow in on the prospects that have the characteristics that resemble your best clients.

You need to know how to pick your zebra out of the herd, to be a successful salesperson, let alone an appointment setter.

Step #2: Have the Correct Mindset

Your objective is not to set the appointment. Your aim is to see if you can help them. Take the pressure to arrange an appointment off of you by focusing on calling to see if you can be part of a solution.

Instead of going for the “close” of setting the appointment in your opening sales call, focus on piquing interest to ask them a few questions to see if a meeting would even be beneficial for them.

To set more appointments that stick, use an opening value statement that piques your prospect’s interest and then ask a few of the right sales questions that focus your prospect’s attention on an area that will uncover a problem.

Step #3: Have a Sales Cadence Plan

I like the “three strikes, and you are out” rule.

There are tons of studies of how many attempts it takes to get someone on the phone; however, 25+ years of successfully selling as a straight-commission sales rep, the one consistent best practice that has helped me earn top dollars is never to chase a prospect that doesn’t want to be caught.


  • Day 1: Call, Leave Voicemail, and Send an Email (CALL/VM/EM) followed by:
  • Day 2: CALL/VM/EM and
  • Day 3: CALL/VM/EM

I know that if I follow the above sales cadence and still have not heard back from the prospect after the 3rd attempt, continuing to chase them will pay less and fewer dividends. I would much rather move that prospect out to a drip marketing campaign and move in a fresh new opportunity into the mix.

(Of course, you can also do Day 1, Day 3, Day 5, etc., or any combination you would like)

There are other sales cadences to follow, as well. You have to find a system that works for you and execute it.

It’s not the number of attempts that is the magic formula. It’s building the right prospect list, crafting, and delivering the right message and timing.

Nail that down, and you will have to make fewer calls while setting more qualified appointments.

Do those things correctly, and you will meet, if not exceed your appointment quota, and your prospects will be happy you called.

Michael Pedone

Michael Pedone teaches inside sales teams how to pick up the phone and close business. He is the CEO/FOUNDER of SalesBuzz.com – An online sales training company.


How to successfully sell by phone – On-demand Sales Training from Michael Pedone

  • Eliminate “No, Thanks,” “Not Interested” & “We’re All Set” Responses
  • Learn a step-by-step process for Cold Calling and Warm Calling
  • Neutralize Gatekeepers & Get Voicemails Returned
  • Ask Engaging Questions Instead of Probing
  • Improve your Qualifying Skills
  • Learn more effective Sales Questions to ask (and ones to avoid)
  • Give Stellar Presentations & Handle Objections
  • Close Follow-up Calls and Get Targeted Referrals
  • How to Set & Achieve Your Toughest Sales Goals
  • Improve Your Time Management Skills