December 28, 2015
A Tool That Makes Sales Way More Efficient
Our marketing team loves content suggestions from other teams at Autopilot, but they can be cynical when sales comes up with one, especially about a specific company. (I’m a sales guy. I’ve tried to tell them I’m not always buttering up prospects.) This one made it through the vetting process because it’s legitimately cool. Every so often you come across a product you can’t stop telling others about; this quarter, my product has been Calendly, a tool that lets prospects book meetings on your calendar without going through you. The main reason I like it is that it saves me a ton of time. Below, I’m going to go through five ways booking meetings this way has changed my sales process for the better (by doing things such as giving customers autonomy over meeting duration and requiring them to give me a callable number). Note that this tool is useful as a sort of Genius Bar for inbound prospects, giving people who have already shown interest in your product easy access to your sales team. It’s not going to bring in leads if you don’t have them yet – or get people to schedule meetings who wouldn’t otherwise do so.
Benefit #1: I get meetings without doing a thing
My meeting scheduling process used to go something like this: Email from me to prospect: How about a call on Friday at 2pm? Email from prospect to me (five days later): Sure! Me: Sorry, I’m already booked! How about next Wednesday at 3pm? This would go on for a while until we agreed on a time, or one of us would stop responding. Either the prospect would lose interest, or I’d forget they existed because I had so many of these conversations going on in tandem. It became hard to keep track. Now I add a link at the bottom of my emails that gives them direct access to my calendar, and it turns the above back and forth into a one-step process. The lead picks a time, a meeting shows up in my calendar, and we sync up on that day. It actually couldn’t be easier, unless we were doing it through mental telepathy or something. The other great thing – and you’ll see this theme echoed throughout the post – is that it gives the prospect autonomy. Some people click on the link in my emails before I’ve even suggested a meeting, which means they’re instantly qualifying themselves by saying “Hey, I’m ready to talk to a salesperson.”
**Benefit #2: I never make make a time zone mistake **
Finding a mutual time can be hard if you’re in different time zones. I’ve gotten used to most of the differences between Australia, the UK, and the US, but beyond that it’s honestly a crapshoot. Central Europe gets really hairy. I’ll be busy and trying to nail down meetings with multiple prospects and realize later that I was an hour off with that one in Germany. If they book a meeting through Calendly, I don’t have to think about it. It gives them the openings on my calendar in their time zone – and then the meeting shows up in the corresponding time block on my calendar in my time zone.
Benefit #3: Giving the prospect partial control of meeting duration saves time
I’m sure most salespeople reading this have scheduled hour-long demos with prospects who really only wanted an intro call, or vice versa. Calendly allows me to pick meeting time options, like 15, 30, or 45 minutes, and then empower the prospect to choose between them. This is helpful because most of the time I don’t know which specific problems the lead is trying to solve with our product. They have a much better sense than I do of how long their questions will take, which means I’m not arbitrarily blocking out 45 minutes of time for someone who only has 10 minutes worth of questions. They also have to include what they want to talk about in the meeting description (it’s a required field). Granted, most people say broad things like, “I want to grow revenue at my company,” but every once in a while someone will say, “I need a product that helps me track forms,” which is a specific subject I know to address on the call.
Benefit #4: I get a phone number or Skype ID from every prospect
Every single prospect has to enter in a direct phone line or Skype ID. This is huge. As most of you know, the standard now is to send over a conference line we can both dial into, which doesn’t do me any good in terms of collecting contact info. With Calendly, I get contact information that allows me to follow up with the lead after our meeting, or months down the line if necessary. And with the new Calendly-Zapier integration, it should be really easy to keep track of which contacts in Autopilot have booked meetings through Calendly. The one thing that would be great is if Calendly integrated with Salesforce, and shuttled the information directly into leads’ profiles, but it’s easy enough to do this myself after the call.
**Benefit #5: Prospects love it ******
About 70 percent of the leads I correspond with use this link to book meetings, and that number is increasing. A few have even started using this tool at their own companies because they’re so delighted by the experience. And I don’t know how many of you salespeople reading have to go through support tickets every so often to respond to leads there, but we do. With Calendly, nobody goes on Twitter to complain that you didn’t schedule a call fast enough, because it’s on them to book it. You also don’t have to start some long email chain within a support ticket about when you’re going to meet.
A few minor caveats with this tool
One potential problem is giving prospects the ability to book your entire calendar all day, every day. To guard against this, I block off personal/working time, so that I have clear periods they can’t schedule that allow me to do the other stuff I need to do. It also helps that the leads coming to me are already partially qualified. Prospects below a certain size never touch a salesperson at Autopilot, so I don’t have fringe accounts who aren’t likely to convert booking time on my calendar. And like I said before, if you don’t have inbound prospects who want to book meetings, it’s not going to fix that problem. But if you have leads who are interested in learning more about your product, this is a great tool for any salesperson who’s trying to simultaneously become more efficient and prospect-friendly. Check it out.