The Role of Emotional Intelligence in Successful Appointment Setting

Young woman with headset in office

Prospect-centred appointment setting is a vital part of the sales process. Utilising emotional intelligence, empathy and building rapport with those whom you are speaking to will inevitably lead to better conversion rates. Having the skills to overcome objections and the resilience to handle rejection are essential traits for an appointment setter and salesperson.

In this article, we consider all the elements required to achieve great appointment-setting results.

What is appointment setting?

Appointments are typically the first meeting a sales representative has with a prospect. A first detailed conversation to delve into their specific needs and priorities, allowing time to distinguish how you may be able to help them. Sales professionals are typically excellent at closing the sale and gain great satisfaction in doing so. However, they can find identifying leads and engaging with prospects to secure that first initial appointment tiresome.

Appointment setters carry out the time-consuming pre-sales calls, emails and other correspondence, finding out the prospect’s needs and priorities, and generating leads and sales appointments. This enables the sales team to focus on taking the sales appointments and nurturing the prospect through to sale. This is often the best use of time and resources for a business.

Seasoned salespeople utilise a number of techniques and skills to secure an appointment, including our own Fast Track Solutions team. In this article, we explore some of the skills and attributes that can help increase positive sales outcomes.

Understanding emotional intelligence

Emotional Intelligence is the art of being aware of, controlling, and using emotions in an effective way. It is not possible to do this without the ability to first identify emotions in others and manage your own emotions. It is often mistakenly thought that empathy and emotional intelligence are the same thing. Empathy is the ability to understand others’ feelings, whereas emotional intelligence is recognising their and your feelings.

In business, being able to empathise with clients and potential clients is key to obtaining appointments and business in general. Having the skills to adjust your communication to the needs of the person you are speaking to will pay huge dividends when appointment setting. As an aside, emotional intelligence is also hugely valuable when managing teams, for the same reasons.

By increasing the level of emotional connection with people, it will improve the engagement that they have with your brand and business as a whole, invariably leading to more sales. Not only will sales increase, but the loyalty of clients who are emotionally connected and engaged with your brand are more likely to recommend you to others.

Empathy in appointment setting

So how can someone demonstrate that they have the gift and skills of emotional intelligence when setting appointments? Some of the skills needed are fairly simple, but need to be done consistently, these include:

  • Listening more than you talk – don’t interrupt
  • Taking notice of what is being said – don’t rush in with what you may want to say next
  • Answering the underlying message – is the prospect really saying no to your proposition, or are they just busy, distracted, or currently have other priorities?
  • Be upfront – Show the prospect you value their time by explaining the reason for your call and being succinct
  • Show vulnerability and be yourself – Whilst sales can be a pressured environment don’t be afraid to be yourself, using a friendly tone and genuinely laughing if your prospect makes a joke, we are all human and people warm to someone being real
  • Summarise what has been said to you to ensure you’ve understood and highlight to them you have been truly listening

Utilising empathy and understanding does not mean that you roll over and accept defeat. It is important to be able to overcome objections or delaying tactics. Ensure that you still confirm a suitable way forward. Some examples could be:

“I can’t talk right now, I’m picking the kids up from school”.

Your prospect has been respectfully upfront with you and doesn’t have the time to speak. Ensure you match their brevity and acknowledge that it’s a difficult time to talk by saying you’ll call back another time. This shows respect to your prospect. Ask when it may be a good time to speak with your prospect.

“Thank you but we have this covered in house as this is too technical/niche for someone external to help with”

Your prospect has given you a specific barrier, this may be fuelled by limiting beliefs, or it could be that they have considered outsourcing previously. Ensure they understand you have truly heard their objection but sharing that you often hear this and it’s an understandable concern. Ask a question to get your prospect thinking.

For example: “If a different kind of expertise could complement your own expertise to better your results, would you be open to looking at it?”.

These are just two of the many situations where emotional intelligence is needed to navigate prospect barriers or typical responses.

What is neurolinguistic programming (NLP)?

Neurolinguistic programming (NLP) helps sellers and marketers understand the way clients organise their thinking, feelings, language and behaviour. Techniques that can be used enable you to react differently to thoughts and emotions and help you to adapt how you communicate in particular situations.

Whilst there are many methods to help improve NLP, here are some of the most used:

Imagery training

Also referred to as visualisation or mental rehearsal, this technique helps the appointment setter to consider a successful call with a prospect. You picture yourself and the prospect in great detail during the best possible scenario – body language, energy, excitement, comments made, satisfaction felt etc.

NLP Swish

Similar to imagery training, when using the NLP Swish technique, you create a detailed scenario of something that you don’t want making it big and bold in your mind. Following the negative scenario, replace it with a small, dull representation of the best possible scenario. The swish occurs when you switch the scenarios – making the positive one bigger and brighter, perhaps with a celebratory fanfare and fireworks. The negative scenario image is then put far in the background, getting duller, greyer and smaller. Carrying out this reversal three to five times will begin to train your brain to amplify positives in related scenarios.


Based on the law of attraction, it is suggested that you surround yourself with others who have achieved success and model your behaviours on theirs. Being in a team of successful appointment setters enables the sharing of ideas; learning by osmosis and gives the ability to take notice of how others carry out their role.


Mirrors reflect, and this technique considers how you do this with body language, your words and intonation. It is highly effective at building rapport and assists if issues occur. By matching energy levels and body language with the person you are liaising with, they will immediately be more connected to you and consider you more trustworthy. Adjusting your language to their speech is also valuable.


Considered the big brother of affirmations, incantations include utilising physical gestures and movements to accompany the verbal affirmation. Ensuring that the verbal affirmation of what you want to achieve is said with intensity and passion, together with the physical actions will have a greater influence on your mindset.

Advocates of NLP believe that using these, and other NLP techniques, can assist in reprogramming the brain and engender a growth mindset. It also enables positive reflection on any failures or disappointing feedback, helping to reframe such scenarios, and preventing and overturning limiting beliefs.

Building rapport and trust with prospects

Building rapport assists with appointment setting as you are getting to know the person you are talking to. Having a picture of their priorities, responsibilities, aims and ambitions will enable you to better understand how to talk to them. Utilising emotional intelligence assists greatly with building rapport and trust with your prospects.

Professor Albert Mehrabian’s communication theory confirms that the words you use equates to only 7% of the feelings and attitudes felt by the person you are talking to. 38% of the feelings and attitudes felt from a message, however, relate to how the words are actually spoken. In contrast, 55% of the feelings and attitudes they experience will result from facial expressions.

For appointment setters working on the telephone, where facial recognition is not possible, it is even more important to ensure that the words used and how they are said is honed as one of the most important skills. Building rapport links very much into this skill set.

By understanding the issues your customers face, every conversation, email or other communication needs to be relevant to them. This enables trust to be built and agreements to meetings more likely, with purchases to follow.

Handling objections and rejections

Being able to overcome objections is one of the key attributes of a quality appointment setter. There are many ways in which it is possible to handle objections and rejections, many of which have been covered.

There are many mnemonics to remember processes for handling objections and a common one is Carew International’s LAER: The Bonding Process®. LAER involves four steps — Listen, Acknowledge, Explore, and Respond.

The first two actions are fairly self-explanatory, but to explore the situation requires skill, tenacity and usually a lot of empathy. Often people will use one objection to act as a smoke screen for the real reason they don’t want to agree to the appointment. Careful questioning and careful listening to the answers will delve deeper to get to the real reason. Once you understand the real reason, it is possible to respond with clear actions and choices for the client.

However skilled you are at overcoming objections; an appointment setter will experience rejection. It is a good idea to utilise your team, manager or mentor to discuss the scenario to ascertain if it could have been possible to obtain the appointment. It might be that others would have used different wording which can be tried during the next call. A rejection can be used in a positive manner, and by learning from each rejection, and carrying out the suggestions above, such as imagery or NLP Swish techniques, appointment setters will continue to provide excellent results.

How can Fast Track Solutions help with appointment setting?

We have a team of specialist appointment setters which ensure that every conversation, email or other communication is relevant, value-driven, and delivered in the tone of your business and brand. Using our proprietary and uniquely time-conscious methodology, our success rate approaching overstretched decision-makers is excellent. Dedicating specialist third-party resources to the hunt for new business will free up your business development specialists to do what they are best at – closing deals.

Contact Fast Track Solutions to find out how we can generate a flow of qualified sales appointments for your team.

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