[Editors Note: As I was going through some of the details for my InfoNgen post from a couple weeks ago, InfoNgen’s Director of Sales, Jim Hanlon, pointed me to an online resource for setting up a mutually agreeable time to meet, in this case a phone call, called timetrade. I found it to be a very good resource, and being the “editor” that I am, I quickly conned… er, convinced, Jim to do a review of the product and post it here on 3 Geeks. -GL]
I recently started using a new online appointment setting software called timetrade.  As a salesperson myself, whenever someone calls me and can concisely explain who they are,  what they do,  why it is valuable and doesn’t sound like they are calling from the moon, I am willing to listen.  Upon taking a look at their site I realized that I actually had a problem that they might be able to solve. This is generally what I look for in a potential customer when I am on the vendor side of the table so I decided to give them a shot and do their 1 month free trial. Their offering is basically an online appointment setting tool that integrates with outlook, iCal, Google, etc. and solves the problem of having to go back and forth via email several times or more in order to find a mutually agreeable time for a phone call, meeting, online demo, lunchtime flashmob,  etc.  I think that they focus on selling to sales organizations, but I think any business person who doesn’t have a personal secretary (must be nice) will benefit from this product.

It works like this. As a user, you have a web portal where you can manage your preferences, which includes what activities you want to be able to set up- for me it is generally either a phone call or an online demo.

Although I can produce these links from the site, they have an outlook plug-in (as well as google and ical) which let me click an icon in outlook and insert the link directly into an email on the fly. The outlook plug-in actively syncs with my calendar, so that when someone opens the link they will only be able to schedule a time that I am actually available as long as my calendar is up to date.  Remembering to block travel days and such has probably been my biggest challenge with making this completely seamless.

Once the person has selected a time that works for them and scheduled it, we both get an email confirming it, and it will automatically show up in my outlook calendar. If it is a phone call, I don’t need to take any further action until the time of the call, and if it is something like a webex demo, I simply update the meeting with the webex details any time prior to the date.  One limitation is that if I sent this out to multiple people for the same meeting, I would probably get back multiple requests so it works better when you are coordinating with one person.

I was a bit skeptical on how much value this would add to my workflow, but it has definitely saved me a ton of time, and also increased the volume of things on my calendar due to higher response rates when I request a meeting from a new prospect.  There isn’t a ton of customer support, but in general I haven’t needed any, and at $49/year for a subscription it is a no-brainer.