B2B appointment setting involves a pay-for-performance model that many outsourced lead generation firms adopt. Using this model, sales teams make initial sales calls to top-of-funnel prospects and return with a list of appointments to hand off to a company’s sales team.
Not all appointment setting services are the same.
Many appointment-only lead generation services work quickly to lightly qualify leads and get paid per appointment made, making their ultimate goal about lead quantity instead of lead quality.
These services can seem enticing as they tend to be on the lower end of the cost spectrum, but when it comes to lead generation, you get what you pay for.
Focusing solely on the number of appointments that are made often results in connecting with low-quality leads that are not ready to buy or are a poor fit for your company, essentially wasting time for all parties involved. It also decreases the chance of getting a positive return for your investment.
If you are letting inexperienced, quantity-driven callers represent your brand to potential customers, appointment setting is not an effective strategy to rely on. With B2B buyers already 57% of the way through the decision-making process before they even engage with sales, it’s important for your sales reps to set the right impression when they come into the picture because that could be the make-it-or-break-it moment.
However, there are ways to approach the B2B appointment setting model that can prove successful, and ensure a positive outcome and ROI.
3 Keys to Successful B2B Appointment Setting
While setting an appointment is a positive next step after a cold call, the ultimate goal should be to acquire qualified leads that are real opportunities. Outsourced callers should be experienced enough to ask the right questions, speak with the highest level decision maker that they can reach, determine if the prospect is a good fit, and decide if your product, service, or solution is truly the best fit for the prospect.
If an appointment is made with higher-level executives in attendance regarding a deal that has no potential, no one will be happy.
Consider the goals that are set up by the company you are hiring:
Are they promising numbers only, or does it go beyond simple quantity?
- Going by numbers only will procure a long list of contacts, but many of those will end up as failed leads because they are not properly qualified.
Do their goals outline specific and valuable criteria that must be met in order to consider a lead properly qualified?
- A properly qualified lead should have more than a surface-level interest in your products or services.
What kind of information are these salespeople going to turn over to you for each “qualified” appointment?
- Callers who focus on quality over quantity will have a wealth of information about prospects because they take the time to establish a relationship and go deeper than the surface of a prospect’s needs.
As an outsourced company with very satisfied customers (93% of whom continue to engage with us after our initial programs), we don’t promise numbers or dollars. We deliver qualified opportunities and don’t consider it a lead unless strict criteria are met.
When we work with clients, our goals are made very clear from the beginning. Those goals are not considered “met” until the client has properly qualified leads in hand that offer real potential.
Alan Littman, CMO at Agile Frameworks and one of our longstanding clients, has noted that our company is “not just looking to give you a lead, but they have a rigid process around scoring the lead. They do a great job of qualifying the lead… and there is continuous qualification going on. That can be the difference between securing a lead who is anyone and securing one that is a decision maker.” This is the right way to carry out B2B appointment setting in a way that will prove successful.
Setting an appointment is great, but it has less of a chance of resulting in a closed deal if it is not with a key decision maker. We have had experience working with companies offering extremely specified products to niche audiences, and we know that getting to the heart of the right prospects makes a world of difference. Otherwise, the people who would benefit from the product the most are not made aware of its existence.
Have your callers spent enough time exploring all of the options available to reach the right prospective customers?
Many appointment only lead generation firms will want to produce a list quickly and therefore only go after low-hanging fruit, so to speak. For example, Uncovering “C leads,” or those who may not be ready to purchase a product or service at the moment but may still hold an interest in your offerings. These prospects can take a little more effort than working with A or B leads, but are worth the time and may even be overlooked by your competitors.
C leads often know what their business pain is, but might not know what solution they are seeking or that there is even a real solution out there. Pursuing leads that don’t yet have a defined initiative allows you to approach them sooner in their buying cycle and provides you with the chance to be involved in and influence their evolution. Reaching a prospect earlier on in the buying process means less competition and more opportunity.
In addition to pursuing C leads, quality B2B appointment setters will take the time to look for leads where others don’t (or can’t). Reaching out to current clients or those with whom you’ve conducted business recently are often an untapped resource. They may not even be aware of one facet of your company, and reaching out to make them aware of this could open their eyes to your offerings.
Plus, if you already work or have worked with them, they are more likely to show interest in your offerings because they are already familiar with your brand and are therefore highly qualified.
3. Asking the Right Questions
When experienced callers talk to the right person within an organization, they can gain useful information. Callers who know how to ask the right open-ended questions and continue to inquire even when the initial answer is “no” can be extremely valuable.
Experienced callers are able to uncover business pains and learn about the competition when they engage and establish a meaningful interaction with a prospect. If the goal is to gain this information, then it has more of a chance of leading to a sale when an appointment is ultimately made.
It’s impossible to offer a proper service or product if you aren’t able to fully understand a prospect’s business pains. B2B callers that are equipped with the right experience are able to engage a prospect by asking open-ended questions.
The right queries will prompt prospects to offer up the information you need to comprehend what it is they would truly benefit from and if your company is the right fit. Questions like, “How are you currently handling ‘x’?, How long has this system been in place?, and What aspects are unsatisfactory?” can all help to uncover the root cause of business pains and pave a way to offer your company’s solutions.
Approaching B2B appointment setting with these three aspects in mind can turn the model into much more of a successful tool for sales, and utilizing top-of-the-line salespeople to conduct calls on behalf of your business will ensure that your B2B appointment setting efforts do not go to waste.
Outsourcing B2B Appointment Setting
If you are considering outsourcing your B2B appointment setting to a “pay-for-performance” firm, first consider what the “performance” is. Is it a list of names and dates? Are there lead sheets with actionable information that go along with those names and dates? Is there a summary of lead qualification—i.e. timeline to buy, business pains, competitor they are using now, goals for the next quarter, and year?
The answer to B2B sales success often lies in the lead sheets, and comprehensive lead sheets are completed by callers who can establish conversations that fully uncover a lead’s story.
Adding all relevant information into lead sheets, such as defining company needs and even including some personal information, shows that a connection was established and provides a way into the next conversation. Constructing lead sheets with all of the information that is needed to advance the sale is what leads to closings and a positive ROI.
Successful B2B Appointment Setting Begins with Experienced Callers
Properly qualified leads are more likely to convert into customers, so why would you waste a moment getting in contact with those who are not truly interested in what you have to offer? Answer: you wouldn’t. And why would you apply cold calling representatives who can’t accurately represent your business and brand, uphold your reputation, and get qualified leads in the door? Answer: you wouldn’t do that, either.
If 82% of B2B decision makers think sales reps are unprepared, putting sales reps who only go so far as to get their toe in the door on the phone with those decision makers will do even less to convince prospects that your services can work for them.
Like complex B2B sales, a quality B2B appointment-setting program requires expertise if it is to prove successful. If you are interested in discussing the details of a quality-run B2B appointment setting program and the benefits of outsourcing, please do not hesitate to contact us.