© 2011, Michael A. Brown

One of the “hot” marketing strategies nowadays is appointment-setting for field sales or a channel partner. Marketers are making lots of calls to lots of prospect companies, trying to convince them to agree to an in-person meeting. Unfortunately, some marketers are going about it in the wrong order! They pitch the appointment right off the bat, rather than first seeking the two prerequisites:

•  A likely business matchup, ascertained via good questioning and qualification.
•  Agreement by the prospect that there will be genuine value in a meeting … that it will not merely be a “grip ‘n' grin” session or a “dog and pony show.”

Absent the prerequisites, bad things almost always happen, such as …

•  The prospect refuses an in-person meeting, viewing it not as a valuable event, but rather as a vendor-centric pitch, or a geography-motivated (“our rep will be in your area”) drop-in.
•  The prospect agrees to meet but cancels before the meeting.
•  The sales person shows up but the prospect is not available or not even there! S\he “forgot.”
•  The meeting happens, but the participants are not authorized to act, so no sale results.
•  Marketing's credibility with sales drops sharply.

Best Advice: Resist the urge to meet prematurely. Refocus campaigns on establishing credibility, then viability, then desirability. Leverage your combined marketing … phone, e-mail, webinars, etc. … to the hilt. Then, when you do secure a meeting, it will have substance and a much greater likelihood of success. Because sales' time and prospects' attention are so precious, meet only with viable prospects who are excited about meeting.

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