The world of B2B sales is highly competitive and distinctly different from conventional B2C engagement. For a company to find success in the B2B marketplace, it’s essential to develop lasting relationships with other businesses through B2B appointment setting via qualified leads. During a B2B appointment, you will need to convey why your product or service is superior to the alternatives and what makes your company the best choice as a partner.
In the U.S., over 25% of all e-commerce sales are related to B2B products or services. These transactions typically involve large order volumes or a contractual agreement over an extended period of timeline. Since the stakes are higher with B2B sales, appointment setters focus their efforts on scheduling meetings with highly qualified leads to give sales team better chances at closing deals
If you’re looking for guidance on B2B appointment setting, there are several great steps you can take to get results in the future. Take a few moments to learn more about the fundamentals of B2B appointment setting, why it matters, and how you can become more effective at setting up meetings with qualified leads.
What is B2B Appointment Setting?
B2B appointment setting is the process of cultivating leads so that you can eventually schedule a meeting or product demo. Individuals responsible for appointment setting will acquire leads largely through cold-calling or emailing businesses. B2B appointment setters will then coordinate a formal meeting between the sales team and the most promising leads.
While some companies prefer to handle B2B appointment setting in-house, others find that outsourcing the task to a third party is more effective and less expensive. Sales representatives involved in scheduling B2B appointments tend to have a knack for communicating value, evaluating market trends, and understanding the needs of their potential customers.
The purpose of a B2B appointment is to meet face-to-face with prospective clients interested in learning more about your offering. These meetings often include a product demo and a detailed presentation of how your company works and what they can do to fulfill an unmet need of the target company.
Why Appointment Setting is an Important Part of B2B Lead Generation
While it’s possible to communicate a great deal of valuable information over the phone or via email, it’s essential for a lead to see the product or service you’re offering firsthand. During a formal meeting, your sales team will outline exactly what your company brings to the table and how it compares to the competition. B2B appointment setting is a crucial component of successful lead generation for numerous reasons, including:
Appointment Setting Builds Relationships
An in-person meeting helps prospects trust your company, opening the door to a long-lasting business partnership. Appointments allow sales reps to dive into the details of their product or service, often accompanied by interactive demonstrations. A B2B appointment is also an excellent time to discuss any reservations your leads might have about the proposal before proceeding. These interactions are the cornerstone of B2B success, resulting in referrals and free word-of-mouth advertising.
It Conveys Value
Appointment setters know how to generate interest by touching upon pivotal selling points, and, after setting up an appointment, the sales team will have a chance to deliver your company’s unique value proposition to key decision-makers. Your value proposition plays a critical role in ensuring your prospective client understands what makes your product or service superior to the competition.
Appointment Setting Increases Visibility
Appointment setting is especially essential for startups or newer businesses seeking to gain a foothold in the industry. Even if an appointment doesn’t end with a sale, holding a face-to-face discussion is a critical first step to building your company’s reputation. Word of mouth will spread as appointment setters arrange more meetings and other leads will begin to take notice. In addition, successful sales may give rise to opportunities in the future with other businesses that have partnered with your lead.
It Reduces Costs
With a dedicated team of appointment setters, your company’s closing sales team can focus on pursuing the customers that are most interested in making a deal. Narrowing down leads to the most qualified candidates can save an enormous amount of time, energy, and money. As appointment setters handle the B2B lead generation legwork, your closers can concentrate their time and resources where it’s most needed, which minimizes your unsuccessful sales and maximizes profitability. Many companies choose to outsource their appointment setting work to outside professionals to further drive down costs and improve the effectiveness of outreach campaigns.
Appointment Setting Saves Time
Without appointment setters, B2B lead generation can easily become a time-consuming and painstaking process. For smaller companies with fewer employees, finding qualified leads that are willing to meet in person requires an enormous amount of labor, and it doesn’t always lead to enough sales to offset costs. Knowledgeable sales reps who understand the intricacies of appointment setting are quick to identify the most promising leads so other members of your team aren’t preoccupied with cold calls or emails throughout the workday.
How to Book an Appointment
Setting up appointments with qualified leads is a multi-stage process that is typically handled by a dedicated team of sales development representatives, or SDRs. These specialized sales professionals know how to leverage technology, like automated scheduling software or other tools, that make it easier to organize correspondence and arrange meetings. Here are the six main steps to effectively setting up a B2B appointment:
1. Identify your Target Customers
Successful B2B appointment setting starts with defining your target customers, understanding how they think, and knowing what they need. To make lead engagement more effective, companies will often generate one or more BPs (Buyer Personas) that define a large portion of your qualified leads. Buyer personas often contain specific descriptors related to a decision maker’s educational background, professional experience, psychology, demographics, and values. With a BP in mind, appointment setters can begin to compile leads who are likely to schedule a meeting.
An ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) can also help define your target customer base. ICPs should define the type of business that will need your products or services, as well as consider the size and age of a business, the volume they're likely to buy, and whether or not the target business is privately owned or part of a larger corporate enterprise. Appointment setters should use this data to focus engagement. Precisely defining your target audience is a vital part of connecting to prospective customers, so take your time to build unique BPs and ICPs based on a specific set of criteria.
2. Conduct Research
It’s important to conduct thorough research before reaching out to set up an appointment. Take the time to find out who the decision makers are and customize engagement to them. For instance, you should consider the overarching challenges facing the target business and how your company can help to overcome these obstacles. Evaluating broader trends in the industry may also reveal useful insights that can further personalize lead engagement through email, phone, or social media messages.
Thorough research should also include reviewing the history of the target, including the length of time they’ve been in business, the size of their workforce, and how the company has changed in recent years. All of this information is vital to building an ideal customer profile that helps appointment setters find quality leads. Research is also useful in generating additional relevant talking points to discuss during an appointment. Consider mentioning industry statistics relevant to the proposed sale, or bringing up supporting evidence that shows your company can improve upon the status quo.
3. Start Sourcing Leads
Once you’ve identified your target customer and conducted enough research, it’s time to begin sourcing leads. Aside from cold-calling, appointment setters should also try to find leads through platforms like LinkedIn or other social media. Once the target customer has expressed interest in your business or offer, they become a viable lead.
While sourcing leads is largely a numbers game, the quality of the lead is equally important. Once you’ve established buyer personas and ideal customer profiles, devote your time to engaging businesses that closely match the criteria you’ve established. Remember, a high volume of leads doesn’t always guarantee more appointments or conversions. What’s most important is the quality of the leads and the relationships you build with them. While spending more time on nurturing top-tier leads will produce more sales, focus on generating general interest first before narrowing down the list.
4. Acquire Contact Information
Next, collect some basic contact information about your leads so you can prepare for a conversation over the phone or through email. Check the company's website and look at social media. Many leads respond best to email or social media message, but that's not always the case. For more formal proposals, it may be best to discuss matters over the phone. If you're unable to find a phone number, you'll need to focus on drafting an engaging appointment invitation in writing.
For additional contact information, you can also look for content like white papers or press releases regarding the target company. No matter where you start, you should search for news about the business to learn more about their current affairs and the actions of their decision makers.
5. Message or Call to Generate Interest
At this stage, appointment setters are ready to begin engaging with the potential customer. This starts with a simple phone call, email, or social media message that provides a broad overview of your company’s offering. The purpose of the initial conversation is to cultivate the lead's interest.
According to one study, nearly 80% of individuals surveyed said they prefer email over phone calls when discussing opportunities with sales representatives. With a written message, targets can respond to you at their leisure with very little time commitment required. Only call the prospect when necessary, or after they’ve reached the end of the sales funnel and are ready for a meeting.
6. Book the Demo
Once your prospect becomes a qualified lead, it’s finally time to book a demo. It’s not unusual for some target customers to reschedule the appointment several times before committing to a meeting, so it’s critical to follow up and find a date that works best for them. When setting an appointment, listen carefully to any concerns or questions raised by the lead and be sure to relay that information to the sales team ahead of the meeting.
Don’t forget to send a reminder to the potential client a day or two before the appointment. Write a brief email that clearly states the time and place of the meeting accompanied by a statement of gratitude for their interest in your company.
Proven Methods & Tips to Set More B2B Appointments
In an ideal world, every prospect will express interest in an appointment right away and never reschedule. In reality, B2B engagement is much more nuanced, and the success of your company often depends on the volume of appointments generated by sales development representatives. Increasing the success rate of B2B appointment setting takes time to master, but several effective strategies can help you book more meetings with qualified leads. We’ve compiled a few valuable tips and techniques that our appointment setters use to make their job easier. By employing a few of these methods, it’s possible to drastically improve your follow-through rates.
Those who have experience with setting up appointments don’t give up after the first or second attempt. Whether a lead was hesitant to commit in a previous call or rescheduled multiple times, feel free to reach out if you have interesting updates to share or value to add. Remaining persistent with outreach ensures you never miss out on an opportunity to close.
Keeping a positive attitude is vital. Leads can detect discouragement over the phone or through text, so make it a point to keep the conversation light and professional. Instead of ruminating over a lost lead, stay focused on the next one and learn what you can from your failures.
Successful SDRs understand that cultivating leads takes time. Not every target will commit to an appointment after a single conversation. The truth is that the length of time between initial lead engagement and conversion takes up to 84 days on average. Try to keep the big picture in mind during your conversations and don’t feel compelled to see immediate results. It's especially important to be patient when setting appointments with larger companies that have many moving parts, longer time horizons, or more decision-makers involved in the sale.
Track and Evaluate KPIs
Keep a consistent record of Key Performance Indicators, like your appointment setting success rate or the number of meetings that concluded with a sale. Tracking KPIs is also useful for determining which outreach strategies are most effective at generating interest. Analyzing these metrics improves the accuracy of tracking ROI for appointment setting while ensuring you allocate resources to the most productive lead sourcing endeavors.
As time passes, KPI data will reveal where your company’s strengths and weaknesses lie so you can determine at what point in the sales funnel customers are converting or opting out. If you suddenly see a spike in the number of set appointments, you’ll know exactly where the leads are coming from and which mode of outreach achieved the best results. When meetings begin to fall, it could be time to adjust your approach.
Find Ways to Increase Lead Generation
Setting appointments comes down to finding more qualified leads, and that relies on attracting new interest on a rolling basis. Expand into diverse outreach strategies and evaluate which methods work best to attract your target customer. For instance, if cold calling only generates a small percentage of your total leads, consider allocating more resources to inbound engagement strategies like content marketing or growth hacking techniques like contests, discounts, or free trial support.
Another way to increase lead generation is to expand your company’s online presence. Leverage social media to expand your reach and improve your website to include mobile-optimized functionality. Be sure to fill out your website with plenty of relevant content so Google will have an easier time matching your business with its target audience. Given time, the addition of SEO optimized blogs and landing pages with increase the likelihood of quality leads finding your content, increasing lead generation and the number of appointments scheduled.
Things to Avoid with B2B Appointment Setting
Pitching products or services to an established business can be especially challenging due to the highly competitive nature of the B2B market. If you’d like to improve the success rate of your conversion efforts, here are a few things to avoid:
As mentioned earlier, persistence is key to setting up B2B appointments. With that said, there’s a fine line between cultivating a lead and wearing one out. Too many calls, messages, or emails in a short time frame can convey a sense of desperation that will undermine how a business responds to your outreach. It may be best to allow some time to pass between the first conversation and the follow-up before attempting to set an appointment. Remember, your potential clients have their own businesses to run, and being bombarded with calls or messages can cause some leads to lose interest.
Letting a Warm Lead go Cold
It can take time to transition from a cold call to a warm one, so be sure to reach out to leads you haven’t heard from in a while to keep the conversation going. Neglecting to nourish leads who are already interested in learning more about your business is a big mistake many new appointment setters make, and it can hurt your success rate in the long run.
Disregarding Customer Questions or Concerns
It’s critical to practice active listening when setting up an appointment with a potential client. Try to facilitate an authentic conversation where the target feels comfortable opening up about his or her industry challenges, objectives, and expectations. Understanding the needs and concerns of a lead is essential to providing them with the tailored solutions they’re looking for.
Guiding a lead to an eventual B2B sale isn’t always easy, but there are numerous ways to make the job less challenging. By employing the aforementioned tips and techniques when setting appointments, SDRs can achieve a higher conversion success rate with outreach campaigns, contributing to more sales and consistent growth for the company.
Look into Outsourcing B2B Appointment Setting
If you don’t have the bandwidth to source and set your own appointments, you can outsource the task to an experienced group of sales development representatives. By relying on a third party to do the legwork, your internal sales team can devote all their resources to preparing and presenting product demos. Aside from keeping costs low, deferring to outside professionals to set appointments also improves the targeting and efficacy of your outreach campaigns. Professional SDRs use a wide range of digital tools to generate a steady stream of qualified leads, ensuring your sales team remains focused on closing deals instead of scheduling appointments. For any sales professionals looking to learn more about B2B appointment setting, booking a free consultation with Cleverly can be a great way to introduce you and your team to valuable approaches and strategies.