B2B appointment setting is one of the most challenging and important aspects of sales and marketing. Before your sales team can close a deal, you need to get in front of the prospect: you need a sales meeting, an online demo, a face-to-face conversation. This is where professional appointment setters can add tremendous value for your business. With a strategic approach to appointment setting, you can get more sales meetings, keep your sales pipeline flowing, and move your sales process in the right direction.
Appointment setting is such a valuable skill because it helps set the stage for one-on-one interaction with a prospect. Before any business executive agrees to buy from your company, they are going to want to meet your sales team, learn more about your solution, and get their questions answered. The B2B sales cycle can be long and uncertain; it might take 1-2 years for the most advanced B2B solutions to move from initial outreach to deal close. With talented appointment setters, your sales team can get support for the upfront work of researching, contacting, and scheduling meetings with executives.
Appointment setters are part of a broader range of B2B lead generation services that your company might need. When you work with a professional appointment setting team, you are getting additional support and capacity to make calls, contact prospects, and schedule those all-important sales meetings.
Appointment setters typically work for lead generation companies and are trained to represent your company professionally and to start the process of building a relationship with your prospects. They are often entry level sales reps or experienced customer service pros; they are skilled at building customer relationships, keeping track of customer details, and doing the disciplined, repetitive work of reaching out to customers by phone and other channels.
Appointment setters don’t have to know all the technical aspects of your product or solution on the same level as your in-house sales professionals; they’re not expected to be experts who can close the deal alone. But by working from a calling script and getting some upfront training, appointment setters can achieve breakthrough results to get your sales team onto the daily calendars of your top prospects.
Let’s see a few examples of B2B appointment setting tips – and how they can help your company get more sales meetings to boost your sales results.
B2B appointment setting is often considered to be just cold calling. And although the phone is still an important tool for appointment setters, it’s more complicated than that. Appointment setting includes usage of numerous marketing channels such as websites, direct mail letters, voicemails, and emails, personalized notes and packages, messages via social media, text messages, and more.
Why do appointment setters use multiple channels? Because in today’s busy, over-communicated world, business executives are swamped and hard to reach. Prospects often are not interested in sales messages; many of them will ignore the first (or second, or third) attempted contact. This is why it becomes crucial for the lead generation team to contact the prospects as many times as possible. The best appointment setters won’t go overboard and annoy your prospects, but they will be persistent and disciplined to keep up the outreach until they can get through.
Top-ranking business executives rarely work “regular business hours.” Appointment setters are always looking for creative ways to get in touch with executives outside of the usual nine-to-five window. By timing their calls across different time zones, and by scheduling emails for optimum timeframes, appointment setters can be more likely to catch their prospects at a moment when they can be available and pay attention to an incoming message.
Appointment setters often try to call executives on their business phones in the early morning, before 8 a.m., or late in the evening after 6 p.m., or during the lunch hour. Following up via email or social media messages (like LinkedIn InMail) can also be a good strategy to use to complement your phone outreach..
Referrals are a gold mine. When someone gives you referrals, the trust your prospect has for the referrer shifts to you – it’s a form of social proof, just like a trusted friend who recommends a great restaurant or vacation destination. Getting referrals can help your appointment setters save time and get better results: that’s because the prospect is already open to hearing from your company, on a level that a typical prospect might not be. The referred prospect is not a “cold call,” they are a “warm call.”
When setting sales appointments with referred leads, it’s important to maximize the advantage. Appointment setters should not be careless or casual with referrals: treat them like VIP customers. Do research ahead of time, make sure you know how to pronounce their names correctly, get any details as far as preferred mode of contact, best time of day to contact, and try to make the first conversation as smooth and friendly as possible.
The best place to ask for referrals is within your own network, especially among your existing customers who are already happy with your solution or service. Referrals can also be helpful when selling to big companies and navigating within a larger organization. When calling an organization for the first time, the appointment setter might have to steer through the gatekeeper and find the buyers and decision-makers in the organization. And this can be done best by asking for an internal referral. The executive assistant to the president or CEO can give a wealth of information and will often show you the right way. However, all this can only happen if you ask for it. Appointment setters might often need to find an internal “ally” (often via referral or networking) before they can get on the phone with the ultimate decision-maker that your company is hoping to reach.
The process of setting sales appointments takes time, hard work and determination. So when appointment setters achieve success and can actually get a meeting booked with a prospect, it’s important to make the most of this opportunity and confirm the appointment details.
While on the phone with the prospect, be sure to slow down and reiterate the important information about the meeting: date, time, email, phone number or video call, and any other key details. Make sure the prospect understands the reason for the meeting – such as your company name, and a few details about your solution.
The appointment setter should also ask a few pre-qualifying questions, similar to the process for inbound lead qualification, and take notes. Is this prospect eager to buy? Does the prospect sound excited? Does the prospect understand the solution that we offer, does it sound like a good fit? Is the prospect already asking questions? These notes will help classify the prospect as a high-priority lead who is eager to buy, or a longer-term lead that needs additional lead nurturing.
The B2B sales process is long and time-consuming, and it can be a big help to get professional support with the early stages of the sales cycle: setting sales appointments and starting conversations with prospects. Appointment setters can be a valuable addition to your team. They can do the upfront legwork of introducing your company to prospects and getting on the radar of the decision-makers that you’d love to meet. Professional appointment setting support can help accelerate your sales pipeline. Then it’s up to your sales team to take the next steps in the B2B sales journey.