What are the challenges of appointment setting at senior levels?


To start with, let’s establish a definition of senior-level appointment setting. When I refer to senior decision makers I’m talking about board-level executives and managers with companies of substance. These are typically mid-sector and large corporates where the executive with always have a personal assistant or PA.Setting up appointments with these contacts is tough mainly due to a number of challenges they present:Firstly, they are hard to actually reach and speak with by phone. On top of that, they are extremely time poor. And finally, they have a lot of “noise” that you have to break through, since they get approaches from vendors every day trying to get an appointment with them.Given these challenges, you can understand why appointment setting at senior-levels is so difficult.So, what appointment setting strategies can you employ to cut through the noise and secure a meeting with these executives?Here are 3 appointments setting tips you can use:1)    Keep it short2)    Think strategically3)    Work with their PA1) Keep it shortAs I’ve said earlier, senior decision makers don’t have much time and get too many approaches every day. They therefore “filter” all approaches and make quick decisions on relevancy. Don’t expect them to read a 5 page report unless they can understand within the first 5 seconds that it’s of value. Emails should be short and concise with bullet-points to pick out key messages as they scan the content.If you do get them on the phone then, again, keep it short and to the point. Get your reason for call out there up-front and be clear what you want from them. Contrary to what some people think, the higher up you go in an organisation the more willing they are to be pitched with an idea. Just don’t waste their time.2) Think strategicallySenior-decision makers are interested in strategic issues that affect their executive mandate. Once the strategy is set then they will delegate tactical actions to their team. Therefore, if you are appointment setting at this level you need to appeal to them with a strategic issue.In line with the first point about keeping it short, think about offering an executive briefing on a strategic issue affecting their industry or departmental function. Demonstrate the value they will get by meeting with you. Insight into areas such as competitive trends, emerging technologies and industry research work best at this level.3) Work with their PAThis final point my seem heretical for many salespeople who think of “gatekeepers” as people to get around but, realistically, if you are appointment setting into the C-suite you will struggle to get an executive on the phone. For a start they are always in back-to-back meetings. Also, even if you did get one on the phone they will never book an appointment with you, instead they will refer you back to their PA. Why? Because the PA handles their diary.This is why you need to work with the PA. Don’t pitch them, just work with them to get your offer in front of their boss. That could mean making sure they review an email or presentation or it could be scheduling a time for you to speak with them on the phone  for 15 minutes (remember, keep it short).Either way, unless you work with them you will not get very far.Keep these 3 appointment setting tips in mind and you will position yourself to succeed in opening doors with senior executives in mid-sector and large corporate companies.Whilst it’s probably one of the hardest appointment setting jobs, the rewards can be significant.

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David Regler is the owner of Maine Associates, a specialist appointment setting company focused on appointment setting services for clients seeking to reach  senior-level decision makers within targeted mid-secotr and large corporate companies. For more information visit, http://www.maine-associates.co.uk/
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