The Appointment Making Formula™:   The next web-based workshop for 2011 will be on June 28th

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The Appointment Making Formula™ Sales Training   


What is The Appointment Making Formula?

The Appointment Making Formula™ (The Formula, for short) is our methodology for the challenge of setting more appointments in today’s business environment.  It is holistic in nature and template based in application.  It is based on years of feedback from many different approaches to setting appointments to jump-start activity and sales, whether it is for face-to-face or telesales selling environments.  We believe that the appointment making process is just another management challenge that can be broken down into its component parts, monitored, measured and then incrementally improved from both an effectiveness and efficiency basis.   This is addressed through a combination of ‘Art’, which is the methodology, messaging and techniques of the process; ‘Science’ or the mechanics of the process; and ‘Best Practices’ which is a combination of both applied uniquely to your situation.

What makes The Formula it different?

The difference is our thoughtful approach to a holistic view of the challenge. Tackling just one piece of the puzzle will not solve the puzzle.  For instance, just attempting to make your reps (or you) more efficient by installing automation won’t do it. Being able to make more calls (Science) when your success ratio is very poor still leads to an environment of disillusionment at best; and failure and turnover at worst.   Just improving your team’s skills at turning a conversation into an appointment (Art) won’t do it either.    Having to make fewer calls because of increased effectiveness certainly helps, but too often enough time to make the calls is as big an enemy as a lack of effectiveness.  In addition, a lack of automation leads to an ineffective organization.  When turnover in a territory occurs, it is very common to have the same targets called over and over again and targets that actually ask to be called later never are.  These are the hidden costs of calling campaigns.  And lastly, the definition of a working and repeatable process (Best Practices) is not transferred effectively between reps.  Each rep is left to discover the ‘secret to success’ on their own: also a very expensive process.

The ‘Art’

To address the effectiveness challenge, most appointment making methodologies address only the effectiveness (Art) portion of the challenge.  These traditional approaches to the techniques of appointment making, although they once worked, no longer are as effective as they once were.  That is because, for most of us, the environment we’re selling into has changed.  Traditional techniques have you concentrate the majority of your effort on your message and then teach you to handle those first objections you receive with logic.  The problem with that approach is that it doesn’t work as well as you think it should.  That is because of two operative laws of appointment making that virtually always apply:

  1. The law of the ‘Status Quo’ – our research indicates that less than five percent of your universe of suspects is currently in the market for what you are selling when you call them… so they don’t think they need you
  2. The law of ‘Workus Interruptus’ – no matter when you call, you are interrupting that person from doing something…so they don’t want to talk to you

Until you get them beyond the initial ‘knee jerk’ reaction of saying anything (including lying) to get you off the phone, logic has no place in their thinking.  The Formula teaches how to get the suspect to stop thinking about how to get you off the phone for a moment, open their mind to a short conversation, and then use a set of proven, logical methods and techniques to counter their responses more effectively.

The ‘Science’

To address the efficiency challenge we strongly recommend the incorporation of an automated tool called Klpz to help to help in the process, and although it is not required for application of The Formula, its inclusion provides four key advantages: 

  1. It either allows for the doubling of the number of calls that can be accomplished in a set period of time or cuts in half the time necessary to make the same number of calls.
  2. Because the tool was designed specifically for the task of setting appointments, the time and effort involved in using the tool is so minimal that sales professionals see the value immediately, take to it quickly, and then actually use it.
  3. It automatically provides management (and the sales professional) with the key metrics to isolate specific areas for improving performance.
  4. The pursuit of each suspect is recorded, providing the sales professional and the organization with a history of each pursuit so that the investment of time and energy are not lost when the inevitable turnover in a territory occurs.

The ‘Best Practices’

This is the combination of ‘Art’ and ‘Science’.  It is how we define the most effective way to pursue one individual target effectively, and in a way that the ‘Best Practice’ becomes a repeatable process. I believe it was Bank of America that used to run a commercial stating something to the effect that it processed ten million checks per day without error by processing one check perfectly, ten million times. That is the idea of ‘Best Practices’. Some examples are:

  1. How many times will you call a suspect before the law of diminishing returns kicks in?
  2. What should the interval between calls be?
  3. What will you do when you give up this time? Will you recycle them, and if so, what is the number of times you’ll call you them this year? When will you remove them from your list, and under what circumstances?
  4. What kind of voice-mails will you leave?
  5. Will you just call them, mix in e-mail, or use direct mail prior to beginning your calling sequence?
  6. What are the best times to call?
  7. Where will you get names to call?
  8. What will your value proposition be in your script?
  9. What kinds of questions are most effective to get targets to stop thinking about how to get you off the phone and into a conversation? 
  10. How many leads can each rep handle during a year?
  11. Will you be asking for a face-to-face meeting, a ‘Webex’ or a phone call initial meeting?
  12. Do you want to qualify during the appointment making call, or do that during the initial meeting?
  13. What does your ‘sweet spot’ suspect look like? Don’t waste your time on suspects that don’t fit your model or are at the wrong level.


Why is The Formula needed?

The Formula addresses the all important first half of the buying process – the appointment setting process. (See Diagram No. 1 below.) Why do we call it all important? There are two reasons. First, there is no better way to proactively control your own destiny than to make more effective appointment making calls. There is a direct correlation between the number of dials made and the size of one’s commission check. Second, it is the one stage of the buying process that can act as a fulcrum and dramatically impact the results of rest of the process. In other words, an increase in the number of initial meetings provides a larger foundation for more sales, even if you are no more efficient in the subsequent stages of the buying process. Some of this advantage is pure math, but some also impact your business in subtle, yet substantial ways. For instance, how would your margins increase if you were in a stronger negotiating position because you had a full sales funnel when trying to close deals? How would the atmosphere around your office improve if the discussions changed to those of how to better qualify the many more prospects you have, creating better proposals and closing deals instead of the negative vibes that accompany the ‘we need more activity’ and ‘we can’t afford to lose this deal’ type discussions you’re probably having now?

What’s the return on improving the process (ROI)?

There are three measurable steps in the appointment making process; the Dial made, the Conversation had and the Appointments set.  Increasing the number of appointments set can only be improved in three ways:  Increasing the number of dials made (usually a time bound issue), increasing the ratio of Dials to Conversations (the Conversation Ratio) or increasing the ratio of Conversations to Appointments (the Appointment Ratio).  As an example of the value of improving the process, we’ll just examine the impact of improving only the Conversation Ratio.  To do that in The Formula, we could improve the ‘Art’ (voicemails left, finding the right person skills, and handling gatekeepers, for instance), ‘Science’ (leaving automated emails and pertinent attachments to dovetail with the voicemails, or just tracking the results of what works best), and ‘Best Practices’ which might such things as what are the best times to call, list procurement measurement, or how many attempts should be make before the law of diminishing returns kicks in.

In the table below, if you look in the Expected Improvement column, you’ll see that all we did was move the Conversation Ratio (Dials: Conversations) needle 20% upwards from 10% to 12%. (This ratio, by the way, is now the toughest to move because so many calls are answered by voicemail.) If you’ll then look to the Results from Expected Improvements column, you’ll see that this modest increase in the Conversation Ratio resulted in the obvious increase in conversations, but also positively impacted appointments attained, and the most important result, sales; with a 20% increase if all of the other ratios stayed the same. (The reason the number of Dials, or Steps [all of the preparation and recording activity necessary prior to, and after a Dial] stayed the same was because the time we dedicated to the task of appointment making remained the same in this example.)

Strategies behind The Formula

Until you accept the fact that the person you are calling is playing by a totally different set of rules than you think they are (or you think they should be), you will not set near as many appointments as you will if you accept those rules and play by them.

Here are the underlying strategies employed in The Formula to leverage the rules of the game by which your suspects play:

1.   Because you are interrupting them, be respectful of their time - keep it short and to the point;

2.   Because you are interrupting them, the purpose of an appointment making call should be to set an appointment and additionally build just enough value to make them look forward to the Initial Meeting -  not to sell;

3.   Be professional, yet upbeat and enthusiastic because the majority of the impact you will make, at least at the beginning of the call, is from tonality;

4.   Even though only seven percent of effective communication results from content, and less than five percent of your suspects are in the market for what you’re selling when you call, it still does make a difference as to what you say. Once past the ‘Knee Jerk’ reaction stage, you’ll still have to have a good reason for them to invest time to meet with you. 

      To accomplish that, you should offer to share benefit oriented information that is of value to them in the form of the result of how your solution has helped others in their position (not, how you think you can help them – a subtle, but important difference).  

5.   They don’t believe they need what you’re selling, and because you are interrupting them, their first reaction will almost always be to toss out their favorite Conditioned Knee Jerk Response to get you off the phone. 

      By controlling the flow of the conversation, using a consistent script, and then following the process as laid out in The Formula, you will be able to predict the expected Conditioned Knee Jerk Responses you’ll hear so that you can;

a.     Be prepared to handle them –  they’ll be very consistent if you deliver the same message every time, and if you can predict those responses you can be prepared to Counter them effectively and automatically;

b.     Act as if the first Conditioned Knee Jerk Response is not true because most of the time it is not (if it is, the techniques of The Formula will still work)  – and use our Counter and Bridge techniques to refocus the direction of the conversation so you can;

c.     Use the techniques of The Formula to get past the Conditioned Knee Jerk Response and start a short conversation about what they are currently doing and how you’ve helped others do the same thing, only better.  It must be done in such a way that will turn off the autopilot and get them to think about your solution from a perspective that will benefit them and provide you the opportunity to once again:

     d.  Ask for the appointment again without hesitation – leave dead air and they’ll throw up another flavor of Conditioned Response or a question for you to handle.


We believe that the small investment made in The Formula more than pays for itself, and usually within the first buying cycle after implementation.

You can read more about the concepts behind The Formula and return on investment calculations in our two ground breaking White Papers: Is Cold Calling Really Dead? Searching for the Elusive ‘Silver Bullet’ and The Appointment Making Formula™ Four Steps to More Effective Appointment Setting. 

For a more thorough description of the Face-to-Face 1 1/2 day workshop, click here...

For a more thorough description of the Web-based workshop, click here...

For more information on the details of the Art, Science, and Best Practices, please visit our sister website ColdCalling101.com.



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