As sales and relationship management professionals, it seems like we are constantly setting, or trying to set, customer appointments. We schedule sales calls, networking meetings, needs assessments, presentations, demos, site visits...
When we reach out to schedule sales calls - especially cold calls - most of us find it difficult. Why? In many cases, the contact has qualified the situation based on certain assumptions about what they think we do or do not sell. Often, they just don't want to be sold to, so they choose not to meet with us. Yet it's our job to break through to them. To be successful making cold calls, we have to know just the right thing to say to that person in a short period of time to get their attention and lock down a meeting. It's challenging, which is why our hit rate on cold calls is so low.
Scheduling a research meeting is a whole different matter. In a research meeting, we are interested in gaining the individual's insight and confirming some of the things we have learned. Asking a person to spend some of their time in this way is less threatening, and in many cases, very well received. Making it easier is the fact that there are many ways to warm up this request, such as leveraging a referral or mentioning a common experience or interest.
Receptivity to this type of request is greater. Consider one of Dale Carnegie's great quotes,
"You can make more friends in 2 months by taking an interest in others than you can in 2 years trying to get others to take an interest in you."
There's no doubt he was right! For our purposes, we should change this to,
"You can schedule more research meetings in 2 months by taking an interest in others than you can schedule sales calls in 2 years by trying to get others to take an interest in you."
It's a no-brainer. It's easier to schedule a research meeting than a sales call, and we should schedule as many of these meetings as we can to expand our understanding and our network.