If you’re not already familiar with B2B appointment setting and how it can benefit your business, you should be. In the sales world, B2B appointment setting is a sales development activity in which a trained sales development representative (SDR) calls, emails, follows up with, and nurtures qualified sales leads. The goal of B2B appointment setting is for SDRs (aka appointment setters) to schedule sales pitches for account executives (AEs). It is then the job of the AE to deliver a more detailed sales pitch and hopefully close a deal.
Before you can successfully run your own B2B appointment setting program, you must know the different appointment setting techniques. Here are the eight best B2B appointment setting techniques to grow your business.
Table of Contents
- Defining your target audience
- How to master cold calling and traits successful appointment setters need
- Email marketing automation platforms in B2B appointment setting
- Building an appointment setting process
- Defining your sales funnel
- Starting a lead nurturing campaign
- Dividing your SDR team and sales team
- Know what a qualified appointment looks like for your business
One simple yet critical step in any B2B appointment setting program is to define your target audience. Before you start the appointment setting activity, you need to know who you’re targeting. Clearly defining your target audience will not only help you kickstart the sales prospecting process, it will also help you effectively execute other parts of the appointment setting process.
Here are a few reasons why defining your target audience helps you run a more successful B2B appointment setting program:
- Personalize your messaging. If you know your target audience, you already know things about them prior to your first conversation. For example, if you’re a managed service provider (MSP) and almost every IT lead you target is a business, you can use messaging such as, “Protect your team members with cyber security while they work remotely.” Or if you also target schools, you can use messaging like, “Headed back to school soon? Make sure teachers are set up for success in the classroom with high-speed internet.” If your target audience is too big, your sales message will sound boring and won’t capture the attention of a potential customer as easily.
- Create custom marketing collateral. If you know your target audience and its needs, you can create high-impact marketing collateral. Creating marketing collateral is always a good idea if you want to give your B2B appointment setting efforts a boost, but custom and personalized marketing collateral is even more powerful. If you know your target audience, create case studies about past clients who are similar to them. If you sell more of a particular product or service, create a sell sheet. If you know your target audience’s needs, use the right language and verbiage in your corporate brochure.
- Know your value proposition. Knowing your ideal customer’s business is just as important as knowing your own. Why? Because if you know your target audience well enough, you know exactly what value you bring to the table. You know how your product or service could be of value to them. When your value proposition is clear, setting appointments becomes easier.
The more time you spend figuring out your target audience, the easier all the other parts of the sales process become. Prospecting is easier because you know exactly how to build lists. Cold calling and talking to potential customers is easier because you know why the partnership makes sense. And closing the deal is even easier because you know exactly how you can provide immediate and long-term value in the partnership.
Once you know your target audience and you’ve performed strategic prospecting to create a list of targets, it’s time to start contacting people. This all starts with cold calling. If you don’t pick up the phone and start talking to people, you’ll never build a sales pipeline. A cold call is the first touchpoint and it moves prospects into your sales funnel. From there, you can nurture leads to stay top of mind and provide valuable information that converts them into customers.
But wait, is cold calling dead? Many companies make the mistake of omitting cold calling from their sales process because they think it isn’t effective. Two humans having a conversation will never be dead. If your company isn’t incorporating cold calling into your sales program, is it just because it’s difficult and no one in your company wants to do it? If you cold call at the right time intervals and ask the right questions, cold calling can be extremely effective.
Successful cold calling takes the right team. What makes B2B appointment setting so special is that it enables you to split up your sales team into two groups—one group of sales development representatives (SDRs) focuses on setting appointments while another group of AEs focuses on closing deals. It’s the job of an SDR to manage the sales pipeline. This means they qualify leads, nurture leads, and track every opportunity through every stage of the sales cycle. When the SDR sets an appointment with the key decision maker, it’s the AEs job to close the deal.
These two groups of salespeople have varying skill sets and different responsibilities. Not everyone is meant for a job as an appointment setter. Here are a few traits of top salespeople on your appointment setting/SDR team:
- Grit and resilience
- Great active listening skills
- Competitive by nature
Appointment setting isn’t just about building two separate teams to handle different parts of the sales process—it’s also about finding the right people. Look for B2B appointment setters who have traits of great salespeople and you’ll be more successful when scheduling sales appointments.
Email marketing is another key component of any B2B appointment setting program. It’s another way for you to communicate with prospects and stay top of mind as you move them through the sales funnel. While email communications are powerful, using an email marketing automation platform will help you build even stronger relationships.
Email marketing automation can be used as part of your lead nurturing program. Automated lead nurturing is powerful because it allows you to communicate with the right prospects at the right time to close more deals. And since an automated email saves a sales rep time, they can focus more on providing excellent customer service to warm, qualified leads in their pipeline.
Identifying your target audience, building the right team, and using the right communication methods to reach you prospects is important. But if you don’t build a process, it was all for nothing. If you don’t have a process, your program will ultimately fail.
Ask yourself the following questions to start building your appointment setting process:
- How do our appointment setters get access to prospect data? Do we need to invest in tools? Should we have a separate team dedicated to this activity?
- What is the first step in the appointment setting process? A cold call? An email? Both?
- What information are our appointment setters looking for in the first few touchpoints?
- How will appointment setters go about the data cleansing process? How will they determine who the decision maker is and gather critical data about target customers?
- Where will sales development reps store information about the leads in their pipeline?
- What CRM should we use as a company?
- Once an appointment setter determines who the decision maker is, what should their messaging sound like? What kinds of questions should they ask?
- How will my appointment setters nurture prospects? What kinds of personalized, valuable information can we send to qualified leads?
Long story short, the appointment setting process should accomplish three things: (1) it should tell you how you find data on your target customers, (2) how you go about contacting those prospects, and (3) how you move them through the sales funnel to get the appointment.
If you don’t build a process, you won’t be able to successfully generate leads using appointment setting. It’ll be a mess. You’ll find yourself agreeing with Chris Harrison:
You can’t move leads through the sales funnel if you don’t even know what your sales funnel looks like. Define your sales funnel so that appointments setters are fully aware of where every lead currently sits in the process and so that they know what their goal is with each prospect.
Defining your sales funnel is also important because a lead who is in the consideration stage is closer to becoming a customer. These leads may require more personalized, targeted, frequent messaging, whereas a lead who is in the awareness stage can be nurtured still, but maybe you only reach out once a week. Understanding your sales funnel is critical if you want to be successful at B2B appointment setting.
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A lead nurturing program is a key part of B2B appointment setting. Starting a lead nurturing process is just as important as figuring out how to set the appointment. In fact, the two go hand in hand. If you’re not nurturing prospects, you aren’t building a relationship with them. If you just call a prospect once and give up, you may never set an appointment.
The lead nurture process never stops, because even if the partnership doesn’t make sense now, that could change at any time. Let’s say a potential customer loses their provider for something that you offer—who are they going to look to as a replacement? A random company down the street, or your company that has been constantly communicating with them for the past several months? Establishing a lead nurturing strategy is extremely important if you want to manage a pipeline and close more deals.
The most successful appointment setting teams have a clear division between appointment setters (aka sales development representatives) and closers (aka account executives). If you have one person trying to manage a pipeline AND deliver pitches all day, you won’t be successful. The clear division allows both sales teams to focus on what they’re best at.
Here’s what a sales development representative and account executive do, and the key differences between each:
- Sales Development Representative (SDR)—An SDR, also known as an appointment setter, is responsible for prospecting, qualifying, and nurturing leads. They are the sales reps who manage a sales pipeline, move prospects through the buyer’s journey, and pass qualified leads off to account execs who then deliver a more detailed pitch.
- Account Executive (AE)—The AE is responsible for closing the deal. They spend their entire day pitching leads with a high likelihood of becoming customers. This allows SDRs to continue focusing on working their pipeline and scheduling appointments.
This clear division is required for a successful B2B appointment setting program. Don’t forget, your team should also master the SDR to AE handoff. A seamless handoff will help the process run more smoothly.