I do not train the things I do because it sounds good only in my mind. I train the proper way of setting appointments with inbound sales callers because I too have been a customer. Today’s shoppers have perceptions about salespeople (often undeserved) and expectations about their preferred buying experience (deserved). By adhering to the Golden Rule of setting appointments goes a long way to winning them over and feeling good about yourself while doing it.
It is acceptable to assume availability of your product while on the phone with a caller. You cannot know with 100% certainty of any inventory’s accuracy. Not when our own website’s are only 95% accurate given how long it takes some inventory to come off our sites. It must be said, though, if you know something is no longer in-stock, DO NOT LIE and say it is. I shouldn’t have to educate salespeople with my ‘Don’t Lie’ mantra, but alas, it is a necessity for some to hear.
Now, let’s say you’ve assumed the availability and have set appointment with the prospect to visit and see your merchandise. The moment you hang up the phone, confirm availability. Whether that means checking with a sales manager, inventory manager, walking through a warehouse, or literally finding it and placing your hand upon it, you want to know it is in-stock for real. If it isn’t available, and you assumed incorrectly (or misspoke), don’t let them come in just to learn otherwise. Spend a few minutes researching comparable inventory, and find similar products that may also work for them. Then pick up the phone and call. The prospect deserves a call back with this new information. This is the Golden Rule of Appointments, and why setting appointments are made in the first place. It is your duty (nay: your responsibility) to contact that customer back and alert them to this new information, while simultaneously presenting them other options to consider.
After providing them those alternatives, do your best to maintain that appointment. Many will say “yes”, and some will say “no”. Either way, the shopper deserves the respect of being told truthful information and they will appreciate you updating them. (As a matter of fact, at any time after scheduling the appointment, if the inventory they hope to see is sold, make that call. Text them the update. Bring this to their attention.)
Imagine you set an appointment to see your doctor. You take a half day off work, drive 15 minutes to see them, walk up to the desk past all the sick people, and sign in, only to be told “The doctor isn’t here today. I can have you meet with the gyno instead if you’d like to see a tongue depressor though.” You’d be upset.
Setting appointments with the Golden Rule is customer service 101, and goes a long way toward being a credible sales department. If instead you choose to let them come in anyway, and allow them to learn they’ve been brought in under false pretenses, the results will not be positive. “Bait and switch” is written in far too many consumer reviews online.
To paraphrase the Golden Rule for salespeople, if you don’t ever want someone to screw you over, it’s not right for you to screw someone over. Knowingly lying to someone doesn’t make you a good salesperson. It makes you a liar.
And liars help their companies get reviews like this…