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Help! My Reps Can't Land Appointments!

It's amazing how clueless some people are when it comes to selling things. I recently received the following email:

We sell employee benefit group insurance. We have purchased the Judy Diamond List and the latest and greatest email list from Dunn and Bradstreet. I have two licensed, educated, marketing employees calling to set interviews for insurance analysis. The most common negatives we receive are "just renewed" (even though we call 3 months before renewal so its a lie), "have a broker" (we understand that but we are pretty great) and "don't have time, call next year." What can we say or do to get to the next level and arrange an interview?
Let's start with what you've done right. You've managed to get real leads, because the people you call aren't just hanging up. The fact that you're actually getting to some objections (they're not "negatives" -- more on this later) means that you're playing the right ballpark.

Here's what you're doing wrong.

First, you hired marketers to do a sales job. You don't need somebody who's licensed (whatever that means) or educated (whatever that means) to set appointments. Most marketing professionals can't sell; you need to hire people who can sell.

Second, your marketers don't know how to answer objections. Like most professionals who lack sales experience and training, they think an objection is a "negative" -- a firm no.

As any sales pro will tell you, a deal isn't real until you hit your first objection. People don't bother to come up with reasons not to buy things if, at some level, they don't want to buy them. People who aren't interested (for real) just hang up.

So what you really have is a tactical problem of answering objections and moving the sale forward. Fortunately, all three objections are easy to overcome:

  • "We just renewed." Kill this objection before it comes up by saying, in the opening statement, that you understand they'll be coming up for renewal in three months. Problem solved.
  • "We already have a broker." The correct response is: "No problem! Just out of curiosity, what could he be doing better?" (Or some other leading questions) Then you can do better. Problem solved.
  • "I don't have time." The correct response is: "I understand completely. I'm not calling to sell you anything. I'm calling to set up an appointment..." Problem solved.
Those are pretty standard objections, BTW. I suspect that if you had hired the right people in the first place, they'd already know this kind of Sales 101 stuff.

READERS: Any more suggestions?

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