The Pitfalls of Appointment-Only Lead Generation Services


appointment only lead generation

When searching for outsourced lead generation services, one of the most popular results is “appointment-only” or “pay for performance” firms that promise to make the calls and return with a list of appointments to hand off to a sales team. 

As an entrepreneur or sales manager in need of a healthy sales pipeline, these services can be enticing, especially since they fall at the lower end of the spectrum of upfront cost for outsourced services.

While it’s tempting to choose a service with a lower price tag, in the long run, it may be costing you more.

1. Low ROI

“It’s not about having the right opportunities. It’s about handling the opportunities right.” -Mark Hunter, author

The up-front cost of appointment-only lead generation options can be tempting; many assume that once the appointments are set by a low-cost service, their internal sales team has the talent and experience to close the deal. But when all is said and done, a lower cost option can end up being the more expensive choice. 

Transactional appointment setting can be accomplished with an inexperienced team that will make quick work of your prospect list, but the actual results are likely to be lacking in qualified leads. 

The goal of a team of callers that get paid to set appointments is to obtain as many appointments as possible with little to no information about the business pains of the prospect, or where they are in their buying process. 

The resulting list of “sales opportunities” that is handed off to your sales team may look impressive, but under the surface, the actual leads will most likely be a small fraction of the leads submitted.

The next step is conducting appointments with some prospects who have no potential to lead to a sale,  wasting your own team’s valuable time. Suddenly your lower up-front costs are looking like a bad investment.

An experienced outsourced B2B lead generation team has a completely different goal: to uncover opportunities and qualify leads.

When the number of appointments set is not the driving force behind the sales calls, this results in higher quality leads, a lower cost per “qualified lead” and a higher return on your marketing investments.

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2. Misrepresenting Your Brand

It’s an old saying but bears repeating: “You get what you pay for.” 

Appointment-only lead generation firms are able to offer low-cost calling programs because they do not pay for experienced callers. Instead, they hire entry-level employees who rely on scripts to make a pitch and keep the conversation to a minimum.

If you have inexperienced, low-level callers on the phone, there is a real risk that those callers will not represent your brand accurately—or worse, diminish it.

Appointment-only services value quantity over quality and are not concerned with how a prospecting phone call will affect your company’s reputation in the long-term. 

Many companies spend a significant portion of their budgets building a brand that customers trust and rely on for quality and value. When you outsource to a B2B lead generation firm, you are trusting the callers to speak on your behalf and represent your business and your brand directly. 

A caller who has the business acumen to engage in a real conversation, answer follow-up questions, and represent your brand professionally sets the tone for any future business that may come out of the call. 

A cold call is often the first contact or interaction that a prospect will have with your company. Is the first impression you want to give them a bad one?

When an experienced executive is the first touch one to contact a decision maker sends the message that you value their time, helping to establish a strong foundation for a business relationship.

3. Poor Customer Service

“High expectations are the key to everything.” – Sam Walton

Customer service is increasingly becoming a high priority across all types of businesses. A 2017 report from American Express found that US customers are willing to “spend 17 percent more to do business with companies that deliver excellent service, up from 14 percent in 2014.”

Customers are willing to pay more for a service to ensure a great experience.

A cold call is the very first experience a potential customer will have with your business; it is a client-facing role that sets expectations for what could be a long-term relationship. It just doesn’t make business sense for it to be an area in which to cut costs and risk a bad first impression. 

An appointment-only service is hired to do one thing: lightly qualify leads and move them along to the next step in the sales cycle. If the prospect is not a good fit, this will be revealed in the subsequent call or appointment with a more seasoned salesperson who will ask the qualifying questions that uncover business pains. 

If the fit isn’t right, it is a waste of time for both the prospect and the salesperson – is this the kind of experience you want to create for your customers?

Investing in the sales interaction at the top of the funnel will not go unnoticed by potential customers. In fact, it is likely to make you stand out from the crowd in a positive light. It’s no secret that decision-makers and executives are frequently on the receiving end of B2B cold calls, many of them terrible. 

By investing in better callers at the front-end of the sales cycle, you have the chance to set the tone for a great customer experience, something that will not go unnoticed and possibly give you a leg-up on the competition.

Invest in Your B2B Lead Generation Program

Outsourcing to a B2B lead generation firm that promises qualified leads rather than a list of appointments is a long-term investment. Investing in the top of the funnel results in better leads, protection of your brand, and a reputation for excellent customer service.



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