Consultants and consulting firm leaders are still trying to secure appointments with their prospects as if they’re in the stagecoach era. There’s a better way.

Remember when people would travel from town to town in a stagecoach? I don’t either, but I’ve seen it in the movies. A team of horses driven by a coachman would slowly pull the bumping, lurching carriage, while the passengers inside would (presumably) canoodle behind the closed curtains. That’s so old-school it’s Little House on the Prairie.

Nowadays people drive quickly from place to place in their own car, or their Tesla (which is like a car). Soon we’ll have cars that drive themselves, giving us time to go back to canoodling. Sounds fun. I’m ready to enter the new era, are you?

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When it comes to booking meetings with consulting clients, are you in the stagecoach days or have you entered modern times?

The old-school consulting approach to soliciting meetings with prospects, sounds something like the following (particularly in emails):

“Let’s connect next week to talk through your issues. What times work for you?”

Or, if you’re a “sophisticated” (a.k.a. salesy) old-school consultant, you might try the two-time method:

“Let’s connect next week to talk through your issues. I’m available Tuesday at 10:00 and Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. Which works better for you?”

The two-time method is supposed to separate the pros from the amateurs. Frankly, I’m not sure it’s ever worked.

The slippage rate—i.e., the percent of consulting prospects who completely ignore old-school solicitations—is alarmingly high. As a result, the new business pipeline has leaked at every juncture that involves a meeting request.

Fortunately, quite a few automated, online scheduling services are now available that integrate seamlessly into your calendar. When it comes to booking meetings with consulting prospects, those services make all the difference in the world.

Examples include Calendly, Appointlet and Vyte.in. Personally, I’ve been using ScheduleOnce for years and love it.

Now, when I want a prospect to book a time with me, I write (or say),

“Let’s connect next week to talk through your issues. Pick any time that works for you by clicking on this link (http://davidafields.com/scheduler)  and grabbing an open time slot.”

Using a link and automated scheduler slashes the slippage rate by 80% or more. That’s been my experience and the experience of many consultants I coach.

Your consulting prospects like closure, control and easy solutions. They also like to click on links. An automated scheduling tool delivers all four.

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Rather than back-and-forth emails that promise open-ended stress (“Can you do Wednesday at 11:00?” means that time slot has to be reserved until I hear back from you), prospects decide on a time that’s perfect for them in a matter of moments.

Using an online scheduling tool isn’t a grandiose, esoteric consulting strategy. In fact, it’s a simple, mundane step. Nevertheless, it’s extremely effective and will make a noticeable difference in your ability to book meetings and close new business.

By the way, you can block time on the online scheduler for canoodling.

Have you used an online scheduling tool?


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Text and images are © 2017 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.