To schedule, or not to schedule, that is the question.
There are several opinions concerning the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of setting up tentative appointments. Some companies vigorously train their sales teams to schedule appointments with every potential client, while other companies prefer their sales reps to solidify each sale before reserving an appointment. From my perspective as a door-to-door salesman, here are the pros and cons for scheduling tentative appointments:
- Teaching sales reps to reserve tentative appointments helps them to become better closers. Rather than needing the red carpet rolled out to complete a sale, sales reps who are always looking to close will inherently improve their closing skills. They become more confident in the process of closing customers under less than ideal circumstances.
- Sales reps who set up tentative appointments get more practice completing service agreements which helps them to more efficiently complete a sale. Similarly, completing service agreements for tentative appointments can help to free up the mental block of only using the service agreement when a customer is 100% solid.
- There are certainly a good number of tentative appointments that become long-term, solid customers.
- Tentative appointments involve sales reps removing themselves from solidifying the account, thus leaving it up to others (spouse, roommate, etc.) to make the sale. In most cases it would prove to be more effective to set up a return appointment so that the sales rep is the most influential individual in the decision making process.
- Reserving tentative appointments from the daily route (especially prime spots such as morning and evening times) that cancel their appointment may cause solid accounts (sold by the sales rep or other sales reps) to be scheduled for another day or time.
- Technicians that are paid per service can become frustrated if tentative appointments consistently cancel. Granted, in some industries, same-day opportunities may become available, but oftentimes these go unused, especially if they are appointments made during the morning hours. And we all know that frustrated technicians can oftentimes lead to unsatisfactory services.
Ultimately, each sales rep and office must determine if setting tentative appointments is an effective tactic based on weighing the pros and cons. There may even be a happy medium that could satisfy both options.