How hard can developing an appointment setting process be? It’s just putting a list together, making cold calls, and sending emails. Sounds easy enough, right? WRONG.
While it may seem like a no-brainer to just put an appointment setting process together, it’s not as easy as it sounds. A common misconception about building a predictable appointment setting process is that it runs itself. However, this is far from the truth.
A predictable appointment setting program doesn’t just appear out of thin air; it takes a team of dedicated sales experts to develop a sustainable process. Additionally, there needs to be defined metrics and a driven sales process to keep the business opportunities growing.
In this blog, we’ll highlight the following:
What Is B2B Appointment Setting?
B2B appointment setting is a business growth strategy where sales teams cold call, email, and nurture relationships with leads in the sales pipeline. Overall, the goal of an appointment setting process is for a sales development representative (SDR) to schedule a sales appointment between a qualified lead and a member of your internal sales team. During these sales appointments, your internal team can present a targeted sales presentation to convert qualified leads into valued customers.
While many people like to use “appointment setting” and “lead generation” interchangeably, they have some notable differences. As mentioned above, appointment setting is a business growth strategy where SDRs routinely contact and nurture relationships with leads until they’re ready to make a purchase. On the other hand, lead generation is a growth strategy that aims to spark customer interest. Many businesses practice lead generation digitally by promoting ads on Google and social media, distributing customer-focused marketing collateral, and optimizing their website with SEO-focused content.
Why Is an Appointment Setting Program Important?
When you implement an appointment setting program into your day-to-day business growth strategy, you have the opportunity to:
Build Top-of-Mind Awareness
An appointment setting process allows your company to build top-of-mind awareness with leads in the sales pipeline. Even if a lead isn’t ready to schedule a sales appointment yet, at least they established brand awareness and know who to call when they’re ready to make a switch in B2B product and service providers.
Generate High-Quality Leads
A common challenge sales teams encounter is that while they may be pitching prospective businesses, they may not be pitching businesses that meet a company’s customer criteria. With an appointment setting program, sales reps have the opportunity to filter out prospects that have little to no value to the business, ensuring they’re only pitching companies in the sales pipeline that could result in a significant ROI.
Set Qualified Sales Appointments
When it comes down to it, the overarching goal of an appointment setting program is for sales reps to set sales appointments with qualified leads. With an appointment setting process in place, sales reps have the opportunity to set your internal team up with appointments that are likely to result in a closed business deal.
What Does It Take To Develop a Predictable Appointment Setting Process?
Honestly, any company can develop and implement an appointment setting process. However, very few know how to create an appointment setting process that yields predictable results. If you want to establish a predictable appointment setting process for your B2B company, it’s essential to follow these steps:
Step 1: Establish a Goal
Before you jump into the meat of it, it’s essential to set an overarching goal for your appointment setting process. Consider asking yourself:
- What is my end goal with appointment setting?
- How long do I want to practice B2B appointment setting?
- When do I want to yield results?
By setting an overarching goal for your appointment setting process, you have the opportunity to set smaller goals to help you reach the results you want. Asking yourself these questions also enables you to determine if appointment setting is your company’s best business growth option. If you’re looking for a quick ROI, an appointment setting process may not be your best business growth solution.
When you outsource your appointment setting processes, you have the opportunity to collaborate with a knowledgeable team that helps you determine what success looks like for your appointment setting program. During the onboarding process, an implementation manager can help you set long- and short-term appointment setting goals. At Abstrakt Marketing Group, our implementation managers and sales experts work with new clients to put together the perfect cold calling strategy, email marketing strategy, and marketing collateral that guides leads to the end of the sales cycle. This ensures that a company’s brand messaging is on point and represented in how they want to be perceived by their target market.
Step 2: Start Building a Sales Pipeline
Once a goal is established, it’s time to build a sales pipeline. Since prospects in the sales pipeline don’t appear out of thin air, how do you gather potential business opportunities?
While there are many ways to find prospects for the sales pipeline, it all depends on how you want to approach it. One way you can find prospects is by researching businesses in your target market online through search engines. LinkedIn is another great platform for finding prospective businesses because you can discover a company page or potential key decision-maker’s (KDM) professional profile. Using LinkedIn as a lead generating tool can help you find a KDM and determine if they’re the best point of contact for your company’s product or service. If their job title is the same or similar to most of the businesses you currently work with, this could be a solid starting point. Even if they’re not the right person to contact, at least they may be willing to steer you in the right direction.
Many sales development teams use third-party contact databases to find prospects. Sales tools and technologies like ZoomInfo and D&B Hoovers are great for finding contact information and businesses that meet your lead qualifications. These tools and technologies provide potential lead qualifying information, including:
- Company names
- KDM names
- KDM job titles
- KDM email addresses
- KDM direct phone lines
- Number of employees
- Square footage of commercial space
- And more
A third-party database is an incredibly efficient way to gather prospects for the sales pipeline because they provide sales teams with hundreds (even thousands) of businesses that meet your company’s ideal customer criteria. However, it’s important to remember that these prospects don’t equate to potential business opportunities. It still requires a lot of grunt work from sales development teams to convert these prospects into leads and leads into qualified sales appointments.
Step 3: Cleanse Leads
Now that all the prep work is complete, it’s time for SDRs to start cold calling and building relationships with prospects in the sales pipeline. During the lead cleansing phase of the appointment setting process, SDRs confirm who the KDM is, verify their contact information, and gather critical sales data. Lead cleansing is an essential component of building a predictable appointment setting program because it ensures that SDRs are only following up with leads that are qualified for your company’s products and services.
While the terms leads and prospects are often used interchangeably, it’s important to note their differences when it comes to a sales pipeline. Prospective businesses in the appointment setting pipeline are referred to as prospects before sales reps cleanse them. This is because while the database may show they’re qualified, it’s essential that you hear it first-hand from the gatekeeper or KDM themselves. Once a prospect is cleansed, they become a lead because they’re confirmed to be a good fit for your business.
At Abstrakt, our SDRs cleanse leads by discovering KDMs and confirming their lead qualifiers. If a prospective business doesn’t answer or an SDR can’t identify a KDM after the first eight phone calls, the prospect is suspended from the sales pipeline. This ensures that they don’t waste their time on prospects that may or may not be a business opportunity for a client.
Step 4: Introduce Your Company
While it’s possible for a prospect to turn into a sales appointment after the first conversation, it’s a once in a blue moon scenario. Once a lead is cleansed, it’s time to connect with the KDM and introduce them to your company. The goal of the first conversation is to establish brand awareness and open the door for a potential business relationship in the future. An SDR should confirm all the information gathered online or through the gatekeeper during this conversation.
At Abstrakt, our SDRs introduce leads to our client’s product and service offerings, establish brand credibility, and discover what a KDM may be looking for in a B2B service provider. After the initial conversation, our SDRs connect with the KDM through the client’s LinkedIn profile. By connecting with leads in the sales pipeline, our SDRs have the opportunity to share relevant industry content that aligns with their product and service needs.
Step 5: Nurture the Relationship
Since leads in the sales pipeline rarely commit to sales appointments after the first conversation, it’s essential to nurture the relationship until they’re ready to make a purchase. During the lead nurturing process, SDRs should routinely warm call leads to ask about their current B2B situation and uncover potential pain points with their provider. Ideally, SDRs should ask open-ended questions to encourage the KDM to open up about their current provider. It’s important to avoid close-ended questions because this can limit the depth of the conversation.
“The most important thing businesses should know about building a sustainable sales pipeline is that it’s never complete. It’s an ongoing process that must be tended to on a daily basis to continue to get results consistently.” – John Schwepker, Vice President of Sales, Abstrakt Marketing Group
When you outsource appointment scheduling services, appointment setters have the expertise to overcome sales objections and schedule appointments with high-quality leads. During the lead nurturing phase, appointment setters send personalized emails to potential buyers about products and services they may be interested in, guiding them to the end of the sales cycle.
In lead nurturing emails, it’s crucial to send relevant marketing collateral to B2B leads. The best sales enablement materials for the lead nurturing phase of the sales journey include:
- Case studies
- Sell sheets
- Promotional videos
When B2B companies partner with Abstrakt, they have access to personalized, high-quality marketing collateral. Our creative graphic designers work with clients to design sales enablement assets that help them set sales appointments and close business deals. Since marketing collateral plays such a significant role in the sales process, it’s essential to align with a company’s brand voice while catching the interest of potential buyers.
Lead Nurturing Success Story
Since June 2020, an SDR had been chasing a lead in the sales pipeline for a commercial roofing company in Pennsylvania. After 11 months of nurturing the lead, the SDR finally set a sales appointment with our roofing client. In January 2022, our roofing client closed business with the lead, securing a reroof deal of $265,000! Additionally, this reroof deal made 30% of the client’s net margins, equating to $79,500 new net revenue. Without our SDR’s trust in the lead nurturing process, this deal wouldn’t have been possible.
Step 6: Set Sales Appointments
It’s important to remember that an appointment setting process is not a “quick fix” to generate business opportunities. It takes a while for leads to trust you and believe in what you have to offer them. While there is no sure-fire way of understanding how many calls it takes to get an appointment, there are industry standards your sales team can follow to use for guidance.
After weeks or months of nurturing leads in the sales pipeline, it’s time to convert those leads into qualified sales appointments. As mentioned previously, the overall end goal of an appointment setting process is to set sales appointments between a qualified lead and a member of your internal sales team.
When you outsource your appointment setting process, you spend less time setting sales appointments and spend more time crafting the perfect sales presentation, allowing your team to close more deals. While sales outsourcing gets a bad rap, it takes a lot of tedious sales responsibilities off your plate.
When our SDRs set sales appointments for clients, the following actions take place:
- Quality assurance managers grade the quality of the sales call
- A calendar invite sent to the lead from your company calendar
- An appointment email with sales call recording is sent to the account holder
- An appointment email reminder is sent to the prospect to reduce no-show rates
- A brochure is emailed to the lead for them to review before the meeting
What Sales Tools Are Needed for a Sustainable Appointment Setting Campaign?
While an appointment setting process is necessary for predictable sales growth, you need to have all the necessary sales tools and technologies to streamline communications and provide a better user experience to each sales team member. Here are a few of the most important sales tools and technologies you need to develop a sustainable appointment setting campaign:
Customer Relationship Management Platform
If you had to choose a single sales tool and technology for your appointment setting process, a customer relationship management (CRM) software should be your go-to solution. A CRM platform helps streamline procedures and communication from one individual or department to another. CRM software, like Salesforce, offers significant benefits to a company’s appointment setting process, including:
- Improving a client’s experience
- The opportunity to tap into new markets
- Saving time and money
- Streamlining strategies
- Overseeing every initiative
When you choose Salesforce as your leading CRM solution, you have the opportunity to implement Salesforce products that align with your company’s operations. Here are a few Salesforce products your sales and marketing teams can use to accelerate everyday appointment setting efforts:
- Salesforce Sales Cloud: Sales Cloud enables your sales reps to streamline workflows, track metrics, and drive business growth from a single platform.
- Salesforce Marketing Cloud: Marketing Cloud allows your marketing experts to quickly execute marketing campaigns and manage various projects at once.
- Salesforce Pardot: When integrated with Marketing Cloud, Pardot enables your sales team to track and analyze a lead’s journey through your email marketing assets.
At Abstrakt, we help clients streamline their appointment setting processes with Salesforce and other cloud-based solutions. During monthly results meetings, we present client results on Klipfolio, a business intelligence platform that helps clients visualize their appointment setting success. Clients can access these dashboards 24/7 to review the success of their outsourced appointment scheduling services, providing customers with complete transparency into their outsourced appointment scheduling program.
Data Enrichment Technology
As mentioned previously, data enrichment tools are ideal for finding hundreds and thousands of leads for your sales pipeline. With data enrichment tools like ZoomInfo and D&B Hoovers, sales operations analysts have the opportunity to find prospects in your target market that fit your ideal customer criteria. From here, they can implement those prospects into the sales pipeline for your sales reps to call, build relationships with, and set qualified sales appointments.
Many data enrichment tools can be integrated with CRMs like Salesforce. This ensures that everything you need to access for a predictable appointment setting process is under a single platform. Integrating data enrichment tools through the Salesforce AppExchange allows different departments to work together seamlessly, providing transparent communication from one team to another.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator
LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a sales enablement tool that empowers sales teams to accelerate their appointment setting process. LinkedIn Sales Navigator offers a powerful set of search capabilities, enhanced visibility into various networks, and a personalized approach to help you find and pitch the right KDM.
Like data enrichment tools, LinkedIn Sales Navigator can be integrated with CRM platforms for advanced list building opportunities. With LinkedIn Sales Navigator, your sales teams have the chance to find and connect with KDMs in the sales pipeline and pitch your company’s product and service offerings from a unified platform.
B2B Communication Tools
You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again—communication is key. Without the right B2B communication tools, you risk low-quality calls with high-quality leads. Imagine finally getting a hard-to-reach KDM on the phone, and the line keeps cutting in and out. Sounds like an SDR’s worst nightmare, right?
With B2B communication tools like Zoom and CloudCall, your sales reps have the opportunity to have crystal clear conversations with leads in the sales pipeline. Communication tools like Zoom and CloudCall give your sales reps the extra leap they need to present the perfect elevator pitch to secure a sales appointment.
Sales tools and technologies are essential for a predictable appointment setting process. However, it’s important to remember that they don’t come cheap. Sales tools and technologies are costly and could negatively impact your bottom line. When you invest in outsourced appointment scheduling, you’re not only investing in the sales expertise but all the tools and technologies that go into a predictable appointment setting process.
Why Do B2B Companies Outsource Appointment Scheduling?
While many companies think the best way to handle an appointment setting process is to do it internally, there are many advantages to an outsourced appointment setting company. Many companies choose to outsource appointment scheduling services because it allows them to:
B2B appointment setting requires a significant amount of time and effort to be predictable. Appointment setting isn’t a one-and-done process; it requires consistent cold calling and emailing efforts over a long span of time. When you outsource your appointment setting process, you have the opportunity to save valuable company time to focus on more pressing matters—like running a successful business.
“The most important thing for businesses to understand is that sustaining a sales pipeline is not a single event, but an everyday thing and recurring event.” – Eric Watkins, President of Abstrakt Marketing Group
An appointment setting process isn’t cheap when you add up all the salaries, incentives, benefits, onboarding costs, and the costs of sales enablement technologies. The cost of hiring and retaining an internal appointment setting team is roughly $54,845 a month. If you have the financial resources to go towards an internal appointment setting process, then props to you. However, most small to medium-sized businesses don’t. And when they don’t, they choose to outsource and spend less than 7% of those overall costs.
Have High-Performing Sales Reps
Unfortunately, turnover in the sales industry is high. When you outsource your appointment setting services, you have access to high-performing sales reps throughout your appointment setting partnership, so you don’t have to worry about the lack of expertise. At Abstrakt Marketing Group, all of our sales development reps are routinely trained to ensure they’re following the latest appointment setting tips and tricks.
Building a predictable appointment setting process isn’t an easy gig for many small to medium-sized businesses. It takes a significant amount of time, money, and resources to ensure it yields predictable growth for the long haul.
At Abstrakt Marketing Group, our sales reps are trained to run a streamlined appointment setting process and generate predictable growth opportunities for our clients. When you’re ready to maximize your company’s appointment setting efforts, contact the sales reps at Abstrakt Marketing Group!
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