What is B2B Appointment Setting?

B2B appointment setting is an often-misunderstood part of the B2B sales and marketing process. Sometimes business owners don’t put enough effort and attention into how sales appointments get made; they assume that it just happens, or that it’s just “cold-calling.” But the truth is more complex. B2B appointment setting is a professional business discipline that takes practice, skill, and focused effort.

B2B Appointment Setting

If you want to get the best results from your B2B lead generation activities, it’s important to improve your processes for booking sales meetings with prospects. B2B appointment setting is not just an afterthought or an add-on to your marketing strategy; it’s an essential business skill that can put your company on a stronger foundation for future success.

Let’s take a closer look at what B2B professional appointment setting means and why it matters for your business results.

B2B Appointment Setting Explained

B2B appointment setting is the process of booking sales meetings with prospective buyers and clients. This is a “sale before the sale” activity: B2B appointment setters help to generate a list of sales leads that are ready to talk to your sales team and willing to schedule a meeting or online demo about your solution. To do this, the appointment setters need to be able to quickly build relationships, assess the buyer’s level of interest and “business pain points,” answer a few initial questions from the buyer, and start to build trust and credibility.

To understand what is appointment setting B2B-style, it’s important to remember that appointment setters are doing a different job than salespeople. They don’t have to do all the same tasks or have the same competencies as the sales team. They’re not expected to close the deal or know every technical detail about the solution being sold. Instead, B2B appointment setters help to kickstart the sales process. They are often the first point of contact with a buyer’s organization and help blaze a trail for the sales team to follow.

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B2B Appointment Setting Tips: How the Process Works

A typical B2B appointment setting process goes through several stages:
  • Initial Persona Research
  • Identifiying Stakeholders
  • Building A Contact List
  • B2B Cold Calling and Cold Outreach

What Is B2B Appointment Setting

Initial persona research:

B2B appointment setters need a well researched list of prospective buyers. Some companies provide this to their B2B appointment setting firm upfront, while other firms might include research as part of the consulting fee. Before you can start contacting people and asking for sales meetings, you need to know the ideal personas – job titles and roles – that would be interested in your solution.

The exact job title or role might be different depending on the company. For example, if you sell software to insurance companies, your potential buyer might be the Head of Information Technology, Director of IT, or Chief Technology Officer – or at smaller companies, the buyer that you want to reach might be the CEO.

Identifying stakeholders:

Along with buyer personas, it’s important for your appointment setters to understand the larger landscape of “stakeholders” within the buyer’s organization. These are people who might not have the final decision-making authority over a sale, but who are affected by the sales decision.

Especially if you are selling to big companies, the first person your appointment setting team talks to might not be the CEO or a C-level executive; it might be a lower-level stakeholder. Sometimes a stakeholder can be a good first point of contact for an initial sales meeting. They won’t be the final decision-maker, but they can help influence the decision. If you get the stakeholders on your side, they become your ally within the organization.

For example, let’s say that you sell a productivity tool that helps the Shipping department save time on repetitive tasks. The ultimate decision maker might be the Head of Logistics, but some good stakeholders might be the lower-ranking managers at the shipping department. These lower-level managers are close to the problem and are feeling the pain of being short staffed and overwhelmed by too many low-value tasks; they’d love to use a solution like yours to make their lives easier.

B2B appointment setting services help get your company’s foot in the door and build relationships at the lower levels of the buyer’s organization. If department-level managers and stakeholders, also called “executive sponsors,” want what you sell, they can help your team get introduced to higher-level executives.

Building a contact list:

It used to be easy for B2B marketers to buy a list of contact information for B2B sales prospects, but with the rise of Work From Home, it’s gotten harder. Some B2B appointment setting teams will need to spend time searching for contacts on LinkedIn, creating a database of email addresses and business phone numbers. Sometimes the executive decision makers you most want to reach are working from home and only using their cell phones; it’s not always easy to find publicly listed phone numbers for B2B appointment setting calls. Investing some time and effort into building a strong contact list will improve the efficiency of your B2B appointment setting.

B2B cold-calling and cold outreach:

This is where the best B2B appointment setting teams can really earn their keep and demonstrate their value. Once you have a list of prospects that you want to contact, it’s time to start cold-calling, sending emails, and reaching out to people via LinkedIn.

It’s called “cold outreach” because this is often the first point of contact that your buyer’s organization has received from your B2B appointment setting team; they might not have heard of your company before. The best B2B appointment setters use concise, well-written email templates and short, precise sales calling scripts. The goal of cold outreach and B2B cold calling is simple: you just want to start a conversation and build trust. You need to quickly introduce your company, explain how your solution can help, and ask the person at the buyer’s organization to agree to schedule a sales meeting.

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The Ultimate B2B Appointment Setting Skill: Persistence

B2B appointment setting is not easy, and it requires a special skill set. To be successful at this work, B2B appointment setters need to be self-motivated, energetic, focused, and above all: persistent.

Higher-ranking business executives have gatekeeping administrative assistants, voice mail, and crowded email inboxes that prevent them from taking sales calls. You might need to contact several people within the buyer’s organization before you can speak to an actual decision-maker. You will have to overcome lots of hang-ups, objections, and rejections.

But despite the challenges, B2B appointment setting continues to be an essential strategy for B2B sales and marketing. It’s the first step in a larger process. By making those B2B cold calls and building relationships upfront, the B2B appointment setting team is like an Opening Act that “warms up the crowd” for the sales team. Before you can get into a higher-level sales conversation, you need to get on the calendar for a sales meeting. That’s what B2B appointment setting is all about: starting the sales process, sparking a conversation, and setting up the foundation for a larger sales relationship.

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