How to Receive Incoming Enquiries and Sell Appointments

By Jeremy Blake on October 13, 2017

In a scene from the 80’s film ‘Tin Men’ (about salesmen selling aluminium cladding to gullible home owners) a lady starts to ask two men (pretending to be working for Life Magazine writing a feature on home improvements), if they know how she could get a quote that evening for her to buy this cladding for her own home, their response is, “well, that’s if there’s even a salesman available this evening....”

If you’re still confused see the whole scene on You Tube – Tin Men, Life Magazine – it’s a classic.

They are selling on false scarcity, trying to raise the desire of the prospect even more by making the limited availability of the salesperson the single obstacle to remove before she can enjoy ownership of her new ‘cladding’.

The availability of the salesperson came into question on a project I began last week with a company offering a high-end service.

The current system is for sales support people to take enquiries, get a few details and put the customer through to the salesperson. The salesperson is told by sales support their name and the service they are interested in and perhaps a few more details such as what has led them to enquire. The salesperson then begins to ask questions and either proceed or not with the enquiry. A percentage are serious, others are looking for top line details and don’t want to engage, and that’s what begs the question, should they only be allowed to speak to the salesperson once they have been filtered and then they can have an appointment? Would it be more effective to create scarcity?

The ringing telephone with a new enquiry, the customer walking into the store, the new ping of the email enquiry at first seem shinier and hotter than whatever else the salespeople are working on but so often are not.

Why not train your sales support people to ask questions and filter and ultimately test intention then you may be more likely to not interrupt/disrupt salespeople who are working on proposals for current enquiries.


  1. Filtering Start with filtering questions such as, “Have you bought from us recently?” ‘Recently’ is more effective than ‘before’, as you’ll be able to then thank them for coming back with a new enquiry or thank them for considering you. If it has been a while since they experienced your service you can tell them what’s changed.

Imagine if pubs and restaurants did this:

“Have you had dinner with us recently?”

“Er, not that recently, my wife and I came in July.”

“Well thank you so much for coming back, a couple of changes you might like to know, our Autumn menu is in full swing with a new rump steak, a pumpkin pie and the chocolate fondant is back on the menu, we’ve also got four new wines from Spain too.”

Yes, and pigs might fly one day too.

  1. Investment level – Your salespeople may be concerned that some of your prospects are tyre kickers, time wasters, hobbyists, do it yourself merchants and more. So instead of asking the horrendous, “what’s your budget?”

You can ask:

“What stage are you at in your research?”

“After price, what’s more important, the quality of what you buy or the service you’ll receive from us?”

“What would you expect to invest in your first 6 months/year to have this in your organisation?”

“What would you like us to be able to provide that might mean you invest a little more than you have currently considered?”

  1. Match and Diarise –Consider what you now know about the prospect and diarise an appointment with the salesperson that you feel is the best fit by personality, knowledge, skills and attitude. (This assumes that your sales support people are clear on those attributes.)
  1. Prep both parties – Now you can prep the salesperson and even give the prospect some pre-work. It might be that some of your marketing gets them more focused on how you can help and add value. Or they might need to get other stakeholders or decision makers involved and need to ask some more questions so they can fully share with your salesperson what their objectives are.


For more information on how you can create this time-saving, and money-making connection please email