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Our previous blogs reviewed the List and Best Practice levers, now onto lever number three. The third lever to pull in order to improve performance is all about the skills of the caller.

No matter how good the opening script—no matter how perfected the art of cold callingthe first response an appointment setter hears when they ask for an appointment is some variation of NO. It is certainly not ‘Yes, I will set an appointment with you.’

This initial NO is actually a conditioned response. This is because when the target realizes this is a ‘cold call’ they become totally focused on how to get you off the phone. There is no logic at play in the first 15 seconds of the call. That said, with specific skills and inside sales techniques an appointment setter can change that negative attitude into a positive conversation and improve the probability of setting the appointment.

The most common reason callers under-perform (or fail) is because they use skills and techniques that are not appropriate. The skills to set an appointment are much different from the skills to run an appointment because the environment is very different; especially in the effort by the target to end the conversation quickly.

This chart lists differences in the environment that point out why separate skills are needed to set appointments than the skills used to run an appointment.


The skill to handle an objection at an appointment is a totally wrong skill to handle a NO response in the conversation to set an appointment. This is why field sales reps do poorly at setting appointments; their ‘selling skills’ are actually counter-productive to setting appointments.

The appointment setting skill is pretty straightforward, because, typically, a NO response comes in one of 5 flavors. A ‘non-confrontational’ technique to handle each of these can be developed in advance.

  1. Too busy
  2. Not Interested
  3. Happy Now
  4. Send me some literature
  5. What can you do for me?

Some industries have a NO response that is not one of these core 5. For instance, ‘I am not the right person’ is common when you are calling C-Level executives about issues they believe is best handled by someone else – technology, personnel or those handled by a User Buyer.

It is also common that the initial NO response given is the same one 80% of the time. And, in some companies the opening script is specifically designed to enlist a specific NO response – one for which the caller has honed a highly successful technique.

This relatively short list of techniques, plus the rapid nature of the first 15 seconds of the call, is why ‘role play’ to learn the skill is so important. The caller’s response to a NO must be automatic, natural and confidently delivered. One cannot wing this and win and it is much ‘less-expensive’ to learn during practice sessions.

You may believe that cold calling is dead, but the truth is, it just needs to be revived. Whether the calls are to marketing leads, networking contacts, referrals, or a cold list, improving this skill with techniques specific to handling the NO response will increase appointments set and therefore increase the flow of prospects into the pipeline. Contact Science can help you get there!