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The scheduling solution

Gina Pellegrini

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Develop a process for calls that keeps prospects coming.

What’s the No. 1 activity truly needed in the business? A scheduling process! Be it yourself or a team member, someone needs to make calls daily to keep your calendar full. When you have the right number and type of appointments you want, the business will grow.

It doesn’t matter if you want three or 23 appointments per week; a routine system makes it happen. The first step? Delegate all scheduling!

The advisor needs to be in front of prospects and clients — not trying to get them scheduled. Your scheduler can make daily outbound calls, be available when someone calls back, continue to call the person until they are reached and keep your calendar consistent.

I know what you may be thinking: The scheduler will not be as effective as you. However, with proven experience as a scheduler, and now as a trainer, I find the reverse to be true.

By being consistent on the phone, the scheduler can form a relationship with referrals, prospects and clients and not be looked at as a salesperson, even though they are selling the most important thing — an appointment! Do doctors or dentists call you to schedule your appointment? Absolutely not. They focus on being in front of their patients just as an advisor should be in front of their clients.

If the schedulers average about 23 calls per day, they will make 20 appointments per week.

As a scheduler for 17 years, I learned the importance and impact scheduling has on the business. When I first started making calls, I only called existing clients. In a short amount of time, I was making all the appointments: clients, referrals and prospects. It makes sense that the scheduler, not you, is attached to the phone.

Here are some ideas to create a systematic scheduling solution:

Have a routine system to work the client base

To eliminate cherry-picking, a routine system to work the client base is crucial. Ideally, the prospects and clients will pop up regularly. With the Granum One Card System, everyone in the system is called at least twice a year: once on their birthday and again six months later. This prevents prospects from falling through the cracks and builds a deeper connection with clients. Everyone on the list, client or prospect, will receive a call for an appointment or to touch base.

Scheduling becomes the No. 1 priority

For the calendar to be consistent, calls need to be made daily, first thing in the morning. With daily calls, the scheduler will only need about one hour a day. Yes, client service, interruptions, answering incoming calls, etc. are important. However, if calls aren’t made, all the other work won’t be there.

We all procrastinate on the tasks we don’t like to do, or we may not like dealing with rejection. For successful scheduling, we need to shift our mindset. Having a scheduler on the phone by 9 a.m. every day will increase results. Look at each call as a new challenge to build a relationship and easily overcome any objections thrown your way.

Increase returned calls

Schedulers should leave a short message to drive someone to call back. If they don’t call back, call again three days later to create a sense of urgency, and don’t give up. I’m a firm believer in a process to call every three days, and after three messages, sending an email or a text. Again, a consistent process to connect with people is as important as creating a list of names to call.

The three things to review are: the number of dials per week the percentage of reaches and the conversion of reaches to appointments. The average is usually 35% reached and 50% or more of reaches to appointments.

Have accountability

Since scheduling is so important, it becomes one of the key areas for accountability in the office. And believe me, phoning accountability will equal results. The schedulers should be tracking their dials daily: calls, reaches and appointments. It doesn’t take much time to make the calls.

As an example, if the schedulers average about 23 calls per day, they will make 20 appointments per week, excluding any type of cold calls. They also need to know the impact scheduling makes to the business. There have been countless times I’ve heard a scheduler say, “I don’t have time to make the calls.” My response has been, “I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but appointments drive the business. If the calendar is empty, you won’t have anything else to do.”

When tracking, you can make the appropriate changes to get results. The three things to review are the number of dials per week, the percentage of reaches and the conversion of reaches to appointments.

The average is usually 35% reached and 50% or more of reaches to appointments. If reaches are low, the schedulers might need to increase their dials until they reach more people. And if the appointment percentage is low, they probably need more training to creatively overcome the objections to get the appointment.

Many years ago, when I started as a scheduler with my agent, he had only been in the business for 1 1/2 years. Within five years, he quickly became a top producer in our agency because he let go of the scheduling and trusted in my abilities. So, let go of scheduling so you can be in front of people, close new business and ask for new referrals.

Now that’s business growth! 

Key strategies to follow regularly when making calls

When leaving a message, be brief. The goal is to drive the person to call you back.

“Hello, ______________ , this is Gina with John Jones. Please call me at _______.”

“Hello, ______________ , this is Gina; is a client of ours and suggested we connect. I am with John Jones at _______.”

Call every three days to create a sense of urgency, mixing up the message.

“Hello, ______________, this is Gina again. I know you’re really busy. However, I need a couple minutes of your time. Please call me at _______.”

Track the dials, reaches and appointments.

When overcoming objections, let prospects and clients know they’ve been heard by overcoming the objection with words of compassion: “We didn’t assume.” “I understand.” “I can appreciate that.”

Ask open-ended questions: “How does your schedule look?” “When would be a good time for you?” “What time of day is best for you?”

Gina Pellegrini is the owner of Pellegrini Team Consulting, a Minneapolis-based firm specializing in leadership training, staff development and practice management. Contact her through her website at pellegriniteam.com.

 

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