Setting appointments is crucial to landing new clients, establishing an excellent client experience, and growing your business. Use this guide to set and manage appointments efficiently.
Appointments and meetings are the life’s blood of most businesses. By setting appointments, you give your employees and yourself the opportunity to sell your services, and scheduling meetings makes it possible to foster a long-term relationship with your clients.
At first glance, this all seems quite simple. However, there’s an art to the process of scheduling and meeting with clients. If you get good at the art, you’ll likely notice a significant increase in revenue as you close more deals and your relationships with your clients become stronger.
Follow the guide below to master this art and use our appointment-setting tips to grow your company.
- Why you need a plan for appointment setting
- Tools for setting appointments & meetings
- Setting the stage for your appointments & meetings
- Take steps to avoid no-shows
- Preparing for client meetings
- Separating meetings & paid appointments
- Make your appointment setting process more effective today
Why you need a plan for appointment setting
Within your business, you might use appointments to qualify your leads, make the sale, onboard your clients, and touch base on important project milestones. You might also use paid appointments for consultations, sessions, and more.
Because appointments have so many different use cases, it’s crucial to set a strategy for scheduling them.
When you plan the appointment-setting process, you can consider each of these different scenarios. For example:
- New customers are more likely to purchase your services when they get to know you on a face-to-face level.
- Existing customers may be more comfortable with a virtual meeting that offers the convenience of being able to talk to you wherever they are while making it possible to maintain a face-to-face feel.
- Your vendors likely don’t mind either way, but the most efficient option for these meetings is over the phone.
However, the need for an appointment-setting plan goes far beyond that. When you create a plan for setting and tracking appointments, you’re less likely to double-book yourself or your employees. You can also significantly reduce your no-show rate, setting the stage for continuing opportunities.
Tools for setting appointments & meetings
Could you imagine a roofer showing up to your house without a hammer or a dentist trying to fix a cavity without a drill? As with any process, it’s important to have the tools for the job when you set your appointments and meetings.
At first glance, you may think the only things you need to set appointments are a pen and some paper. But without the right tools and systems, you’ll get stuck in endless back-and-forth emails when trying to find a time that works. Furthermore, a lot can slip through the cracks (think meeting reminders, agendas, and more).
Here are the tools that can make it easier to book appointments, share time with your team, and integrate seamlessly with the rest of your business processes.
Shared calendars are digital versions of traditional calendars with tools to make scheduling faster. You can share these calendars easily with other members of your team – making it easy to organize your time without having to jump back and forth between multiple calendars.
Today’s most effective calendars are available online and as mobile apps, so you can use them even when you’re on the go. These calendars are typically easy to share with employees, clients, and others who might need access to your schedule. Consider using one to improve the efficiency of your appointment setting and management process.
Round-robin scheduling is a type of scheduling that ensures everyone has fair opportunities and an equal workload. This scheduling style assigns each task to the next person in line, giving no priority to which person receives the assignment. When all team members have received an assignment, round-robin scheduling circles back to the beginning of the list and starts the process again. This is effective in both sales and client management. Here’s how:
- Sales: In sales, each team member gets an equal shot to make a sale and earn commissions. Round-robin scheduling leaves no opportunity for lead favoritism.
- Client management: Round-robin scheduling is also an effective way to equally share client management responsibilities with your team since each member gets an equal number of tasks.
Business scheduling apps
Business scheduling apps make it possible for you to set appointments without any manpower at all. That’s because these apps give you a front-facing webpage where your clients can book their own appointments. The process is simple:
- Populate your scheduling software with the sessions you offer.
- Your clients visit the scheduling app to book time with you or your employees.
- They look at your schedule and find the open slot that works best for them.
- They book the slot online.
- You receive a notification that you’ve received a new booking.
In most cases, you’re able to sync your business scheduling app with your shared calendars. That way, when a client books an appointment, it is automatically added to your calendar.
Online booking calendars
If you offer paid appointments through your business (photo sessions, consultations, and workshops, for example), you need an online booking calendar to make it easy for clients. With this type of tool, clients can do the following in one place:
- Find and book open time slots in your schedule
- Send payment for the session
- Sign a contract for the services (if applicable)
Because all of these tasks are managed automatically with online booking calendars, they give you more time to focus on other, more pressing areas of your business.
Client relationship management software
Your client relationships are a key factor in your company’s success. The better your relationships are, the more successful you can expect to be.
Once you’ve booked initial meetings or appointments with prospects, you need to track their place in your pipeline.
Client relationship management (CRM) software gives you the ability to track your clients through their entire relationships with your company. That means you and your employees will know where in the sales or client process each customer is and how to address and manage conversations with them.
The best CRM tools should sync with your scheduling tools so new clients’ data are always tracked throughout their experience with you.
Complete client management solutions
The final tool you should consider for scheduling appointments and meetings is a complete clientflow management platform like HoneyBook. When you think about scheduling as a piece of your clientflow, it’s easy to see how it connects to so many other processes.
For example, you still need tools necessary for booking (invoices, contracts, and payment processing), as well as project management.
HoneyBook comes with a wide range of these tools to make your job easier, like:
- Payment processing: Give your clients a way to pay for their sessions as they book appointments.
- Automation: Automate tasks and send emails, such as reminding your clients about upcoming appointments to free up more of your time.
- Contracts: Create and execute contracts online to increase your closing rate.
- Proposals and invoices: Build and send proposals and invoices to your prospective and current clients with the click of a mouse.
Setting the stage for your appointments & meetings
The atmosphere is important in many types of situations. When you go to a romantic dinner, you expect low light. When you go to the dentist, you expect bright white lights. However, there’s no ideal setting for meetings. In fact, it’s important to make this decision based on your services and your client.
Some client meetings are best held in person, while a virtual meeting is best in other cases. In some cases, you may decide that a telephone call is the most advantageous way to go. Read on below to learn more about setting the stage for your appointments.
People are generally more comfortable doing business with someone in person than they are any other way. There’s something about the human connection that makes buying decisions easier to make. Moreover, if your product or service is one that needs a visual demonstration to close the sale, in-person meetings may be the only way to go.
On the other hand, these meetings don’t fit the bill 100% of the time.
The recent COVID-19 pandemic is still fresh in people’s minds, and many would rather not have close contact with people they don’t know. Moreover, if you have a large coverage area, in-person meetings may be impractical.
Virtual meetings are another stage that makes it easier to demonstrate visual products. They also give your potential clients a similar level of comfort as in-person meetings when making buying decisions. So, if the in-person option really isn’t an option, you may want to consider going digital with your appointment setting.
As is the case with in-person meetings, there are some cases when virtual meetings aren’t the best option. Some of those include:
- When you work with on-the-go clients who don’t have the time to sit in front of a camera and meet with you.
- When you work with clients who aren’t comfortable using computers.
- When you work with clients who have a weak internet connection.
Phone call meetings
Phone call meetings are the least personal option. There’s no hand shaking or visual feeling that your clients experience with in-person or virtual meetings. Moreover, they can be a difficult option when it’s important that you provide a visual demonstration to your clients.
However, in many cases, phone meetings may be your best option. Some of those cases include:
- When you have clients with limited mobility.
- When you have clients that can’t make it to your office or an internet cafe.
- When you have clients with weak internet connectivity.
- When you have on-the-go clients.
- When you have clients that simply prefer meeting over the phone.
Take steps to avoid no-shows
No-shows are costly. When you set aside time for meetings and the other party doesn’t show up, you’ve given up valuable time you could have been using to make a sale, focus on cost reduction, or even spend time with your family.
That’s why it’s important to actively avoid no-shows.
There are a few things you can do to reduce your no-show rate:
- Document a commitment: Send your clients invitation emails for the appointments you set and walk them through confirming the invite digitally.
- Send reminders: It’s also a wise idea to send reminders to your clients a few days before their appointments and one hour before their appointments. Always include the date and time so they have it readily available.
- Give your clients a way to cancel appointments: Make it easy for your clients to cancel appointments if necessary. If your appointments are paid for, create a policy that defines when your clients can cancel for a refund or re-book and how the cancellation notice is accepted.
Preparing for client meetings
When you plan meetings, you can take one of two approaches:
- You can set the meeting time and date and call it a day.
- You can take the time to create a plan for your meetings so you have a roadmap to follow when the appointment takes place.
Of course, the second option is the better way to go. After all, any process is likely far more efficient when you have a plan. Follow the tips below to prepare for success with your clients.
Know your clients
Before you meet with your clients, it’s important to know who they are and why they’re considering your services or using them.
Part of this preparing for clients meetings means doing your due diligence to gather this information. If you offer B2B services, look at your clients’ websites to understand more about what they do as well as their mission and goals.
If you service individuals, you can send questionnaires during your lead qualification process or onboarding process to gather more information. Ask questions about how they like to work, how they’ve worked with similar service providers, and what their expectations are.
People are more likely to do business with people they know, so laying a foundation for your client relationship is important even before you meet.
Prepare a script for the beginning of the conversation
No conversation should be completely scripted. When they are, it feels like you’re talking to a robot instead of a human being. On the other hand, it’s a good idea to create a script for the beginning of conversations and prepare answers to common questions before meetings start.
Consider everything you learned from researching your audience and your particular client and create a short script for the beginning of the conversation. Your script should guide the conversation to the topic you want to discuss. From there, have a human-to-human conversation, using your prepared answers and rebuttals if you get stuck.
Separating meetings & paid appointments
It’s also important to create separate systems for meetings and paid appointments. Paid appointments are your bread and butter, but meetings often lead to paid appointments. It’s also a good idea to separate the teams that take care of these different styles of interaction with your customers.
After all, some employees who are incredible at sales may not be the best in terms of customer care, and vice versa.
Make your appointment-setting process more effective today
Appointment setting doesn’t have to be a point of contention for your business. Consider using a tool like HoneyBook to make the process more effective with a mix of calendars, scheduling technology, automation, and more.