One of the most important steps in closing a deal is landing that initial sales call.
While there are many methods to secure this first contact, sales appointment setting is a key part of many B2B sales strategies.
Dedicated B2B appointment setting can make sales reps more efficient by allowing them to focus on pitching and closing. It also makes the sales process more efficient, bridging the gap between top-of-funnel lead generation and converting prospects.
This article will explore techniques for more effective appointment setting, how it helps B2B lead generation, and how effective appointment setting can help your sales teams bag more meetings.
What is appointment setting in sales?
Appointment setting is a sales strategy that focuses on securing appointments between sales reps and potential new customers.
Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) often carry out this role, leaving top-performing sales reps free to focus more of their time on pitching and closing deals.
That sounds like a no-brainer, right? Make a call, book a pitch, go home happy.
But there’s more to appointment setting than simply calling people up and booking sales pitches.
When setting appointments, SDRs should be qualifying and disqualifying prospects, with only the most engaged and relevant prospects being qualified for an appointment.
It’s the last step in the lead generation process, after which it’s down to the salesperson to provide value and get that prospect to convert.
What’s the difference between appointment setting and lead generation?
Lead generation attracts potential customers and brings them into your marketing machine.
These people might have downloaded something on your site or signed up to your email list. Which is great, but just because they’ve shown interest doesn’t mean they’re close to buying.
Sometimes, lead generation means playing the long game.
Appointment setting directly engages and qualifies prospects to move decision-makers through the buyer journey – with the goal of shifting them ever closer to conversion.
Often, appointment setting is the final stage within the lead generation process, taking contacts from your marketing efforts and helping to get them over the line.
Although for some it’s a separate process – cold calling a list of purchased contacts.
The function can be undertaken by a Sales Development Representative (SDR) or an appointment setting service.
Not every business will treat appointment setting as a separate function within their sales process, while some will outsource it to B2B appointment setting services.
B2B lead generation methods
While you can generate leads without making a distinction for appointment setting, you can’t have sales appointment setting without lead generation.
Lead generation is the first stage at the top of the sales funnel. Here are some of the most common ways of generating B2B leads:
Unsurprisingly, email is our favourite method of contacting potential customers and beginning a sales conversation with them. We’ve sent millions of emails on behalf of our clients, and we keep up with all the relevant tactics and trends to make you successful at prospecting.
With more than 600 million users worldwide, LinkedIn is a great way to tap into your target market and reach potential clients. You can use Sales Navigator and write a great outreach template. Just don’t be that person who pops up with a pitch 30 seconds after connecting.
Hosting a webinar can drive brand awareness and nurture warm prospects in your database. It also helps position you as an authority in your particular market space.
Regularly publishing targeted content, that answers questions your target audience are searching, makes you more visible to the right people at the right moment.
A referral from a satisfied customer has a better chance of converting a lead, and if it’s a simple process with a reward for them at the end of it, your customers are more likely to get involved.
Appointment setting best practices
- Be prepared
An SDR’s day can be hectic, and every call can be different. Be prepared, do your homework, and don’t assume you can roll out the same pitch every time.
Nobody wants to be on a call with an SDR who has not bothered to do their own research beforehand. If you have done your homework, you can ask targeted questions, and will get more from the call.
It also means you can pass that information on to the sales rep once you’ve secured that sales call.
- Build rapport
SDRs should find pain points, ask the right questions, and listen properly, all while conveying the value of the product or service.
Being approachable and friendly from the outset – rather than robotic and transactional – helps build trust with your prospects and tackle objections before they arise.
- Tackle objections
Objections will arise during the process. Knowing how to handle them is a crucial skill for a good appointment setter.
Come to a call equipped with evidence, data and social proof to prove your product or service is the right solution, and make sure a prospect never leaves with unanswered questions.
- Ditch the pitch and solve problems
Your prospects have a problem. Your product/service should be the solution.
79% of buyers say they want a trusted advisor who adds value to their business – not a salesperson.
So when setting an appointment, ask relevant questions to place yourself as a consultant or partner, not just a rep.
- Keep them engaged
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because a call’s in the diary, it’s definitely going ahead.
No-shows and last-minute rescheduling are a part of the SDR life, but there are things you can do to avoid your sales meeting heading for the calendar graveyard.
Automated reminders are always a winner, and if you include value-add content it’ll get your prospects nicely warmed up for the call.
B2B appointment setting companies
Hopefully, you’re now more accustomed to the concept of appointment setting, how it complements lead generation, and how it can impact your business.
Lead generation and appointment setting working in tandem will give you a stronger sales strategy and help boost your conversion rates.
But before you pick up the phone, you may want to think about an alternative solution.
GPG is a B2B sales engagement service, helping you drive new sales enquiries from your ideal customers, and our sales engagement teams are packed with experienced professionals, there to optimise your outreach and nurture your leads.
We build a totally unique B2B database for your business, focusing entirely on your ideal target audience. We write engaging, relevant, and on-brand outreach emails and send them on your behalf.
When prospects reply to a sales email, they’re already qualified as a good fit, and they outline their interest in your company.
Your dedicated team will be on hand every step of the way to ensure you smash your targets.