On the assumption that your prospecting is about something other than lowering the cost of health insurance or Affordable Care Act compliance, the quality of your appointments should be very high — making closing the sales somewhat easier.

Now that you have an appointment, the next challenge is setting yourself up to win. In today’s marketplace the sale is actually won or lost by the end of the first sales appointment. To be more precise, even before you show up for the first appointment the prospect has made a preliminary decision about you. The question is this: Are you taking steps to influence that decision, or do you still think that you will win the sale when you actually present?

If you still believe that you will win the sale based on the presentation, you probably also believe in the tooth fairy. If you have any doubt about this you need only look at your last 10 proposals to new group prospects. If you closed six to eight of them, then whatever you are currently doing is working. If you are like most of the agents that I talk to and you only closed two to four of them. Follow these pre-appointment steps and you will see an immediate improvement in closing ratios

Immediately after securing a first appointment follow these steps:

1) Send a snail-mail card thanking the prospect for talking with you and stating the time and date of the upcoming the meeting. This step establishes you as different from everyone else and positions you as a professional. It also eliminates the no-show or the person who forgets to put you into their calendar. I use a great online tool that makes this step easy to implement.

2) Send an invitation to connect on LinkedIn. Like the card this positions you as different and professional.

3) Send a link to a stand-alone website containing nothing but client testimonials. If you have done a good job of collecting testimonials, this website will provide proof that while everyone promises great service you actually deliver.

The reason that these steps are so effective is that I am willing to bet that you do not do any of these steps — and neither do any of the thousands of readers of this magazine. While you are all sending an email follow up, I am creating the impression that I am different from everyone else. It is critical that you recognize that everyone, including the incumbent, has always promised the same things. Therefore, the prospect sees no reason to think that you will be different. And when you do exactly what everyone else does the belief that you will be just like the incumbent is strengthened.

Next month, I will share the techniques for managing the first appointment that will insure success.

Schlesinger is an independent consultant focused on helping benefit professionals double their income. Reach him at (336) 777-3938 or through getmoregroupclients.com.

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