Do you want to make a sale? or an appointment?

How many of you know the exact percentage of sales you close? Many companies labor under the misconception that they close 17 or 20% of their leads, but they are counting from those who agreed to an appointment.

But that’s not a real number – unless you believe that the leads who don’t want an appointment will never buy from you. If there are any real prospects in those who won’t take an appointment, then you must start counting from 1.

How many calls do you make to get that appointment? And how many good prospects do you lose because they may have a need but don’t want an appointment? or don’t know they need you and won’t speak?

Only 3% of your leads will make an appointment – usually those who are

  • already considering adding your type of solution,
  • already down the path of choosing a solution (or helping their own folks do a work-around so they can do their own fix),
  • speaking with your competition and are doing comparison shopping.

Prospects won’t want to see you just because you have a great solution unless already seeking a vendor.


Prospecting by attempting to get an appointment gives you a double sale: first you sell the appointment, then the solution. For the record, 3% of cold leads take an appointment, but 40% of all leads could potentially benefit from your solution – and you’re not getting past your request for an appointment. Let’s look at the numbers:

100 prospects – 3 will agree to an appointment. It takes approximately 2-10 calls and emails, and 2-3 months of calling and leaving messages, (not to mention the time lost) before these 3 will agree.

  • Of the 3, one quarter will cancel prior to the meeting, leaving 2.75.
  • 2.25 will meet with you anywhere from 2-7 times.
  • 75% will express real interest and possibly get to pricing, leaving 1.68.
  • Of the 1.68, 38% will close, or .64%.

.64% leads out of 100 close when you use our first contact to get an appointment.

How much are you spending to close one sale? And how many extra sales folks do you need to hire just to make up for the wastage?

By starting your relationship with a request to meet around your solution, you are ignoring what’s going on in the buyer system/environment, and what would need to happen for them to consider making a purchase. Buyers have to go through some sort of change management before they can bring in a new solution – they must do this with you or without you and the time it takes them is the length of the sales cycle. They don’t know all this when you call for an appointment.

Remember that buyers:

  1. don’t know how to buy without creating major political/relational disruption, and the disruption might be bigger than the problem;
  2. don’t know how to get the proper internal buy-in from all the folks who will touch the solution;
  3. don’t know if they can fix the problem themselves with their internal folks;
  4. are confused about options, choices, possibilities, outcomes, change;
  5. seem to be ”good enough for now’ because they have some sort of work-around that manages the problem ‘well-enough’ to be functioning.


When your first focus is to be a change agent to facilitate a prospect’s search for Excellence, you will not only be asked to come in for a visit, but they will have the entire Buying Decision Team there to meet with you.

By using Buying Facilitation®, you can begin the call by helping buyers begin to decide how or if a solution such as yours can offer them Excellence. Listen how we approached this with Wachovia small business bankers: Our opening question was:

How are you currently adding new financial resources for those times when your usual bank can’t give you what you need?

Using that question and additional Facilitative Questions, the ‘hit’ rate went from 10% agreement for an appointment (and eventually 2 closed sales after 11 months of follow up), to 37% request for an appointment and 1/2 of those closing within 2 months.

Instead of focusing on getting appointments, start with helping the person you’re speaking with – whomever it is, at whatever level of the company they are in (including gatekeepers) – discover how/if they are seeking Excellence in the area your solution supports. Remember they have other obligations, other training vendors, other training priorities; a whole string of people to buy-in, budget agreement, and a change management model.

Don’t use your body as a prospecting tool. Start off by helping prospects  manage their change and buying decision issues so they can invite you in. Buying Facilitation® will teach you how to do that, and get the members on the Buying Decision Team together so when you do make your visit, they will all be there waiting for you.



Sharon-Drew Morgen is the NYTimes Business Bestselling author of Selling with Integrity and 7 books how buyers buy. She is the developer of Buying Facilitation® a decision facilitation model used with sales to help buyers facilitate pre-sales buying decision issues. She is a sales visionary who coined the terms Helping Buyers Buy, Buy Cycle, Buying Decision Patterns, Buy Path in 1985, and has been working with sales/marketing for 30 years to influence buying decisions.

More recently, Morgen is the author of What? Did you really say what I think I heard? in which she has coded how we can hear others without bias or misunderstanding, and why there is a gap between what’s said and what’s heard. She is a trainer, consultant, speaker, and inventor, interested in integrity in all business communication. Her learning tools can be purchased: She can be reached at ; 512-771-1117.;

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