7 Secrets of Successful B2B Appointment Setting
B2B appointment setting is an essential part of the sales process — it’s what moves leads from showing casual interest to actually interacting with your sales team.
Further, the sales development reps (SDRs) who execute appointment setting for your business serve as a critical bridge between your marketing and sales teams, qualifying leads and moving them down the pipeline for further engagement.
If you’re looking for ways to level up your appointment setting strategy to grow your pipeline and close more deals, you’ve come to the right place. The sections that follow will cover 7 ways to boost SDR performance and improve your processes to book more appointments with high-potential buyers.
- Training SDRs ensures they can authentically represent your brand from the start.
- Sales scripts are an effective tool for B2B appointment setters, but should be used as flexible guides (vs. rigid narratives).
- SDRs need automation to execute appointment setting at scale.
- Most buyers choose vendors who show they understand their company-specific needs.
- Hiring an appointment setting service is becoming a popular (and cost-effective) alternative to building an in-house sales development team.
Train Your Sales Development Reps
Even if you hire experienced sales development reps, they won’t start their first day knowing the unique facets of your business, sales process, and target customer. They’ll need to be trained on the tools you use, processes you follow, and ways you want to engage with your prospects.
When it comes to B2B appointment setting, training your sales development reps ensures they represent your company authentically and that buyers get a true sense of your brand from the very start of their purchase journey.
Segment Your Prospect Lists
Not all prospects are created equal — not by quality standards, certainly, but also because they have different needs and reasons for seeking out solutions. Segmenting your prospect lists according to their ideal customer profiles (ICPs) and/or buyer personas is an effective way to help SDRs hit the nail on the head with messaging and personalize the buyer experience.
This kind of personalization matters — McKinsey research has found that buyers in general are less loyal (i.e. they’re more willing to try new brands and shopping behaviors), while at the same time their expectations for a quality buyer experience are elevating. Nearly three quarters of buyers say they don’t just like personalization, they expect it.
Further, 76% are disappointed when they don’t get it. That means that failing to segment your lists for your SDRs could mean you lose leads you would have otherwise won. It also means that doing it right will help you win more leads and book more appointments.
Develop and Use Flexible Sales Scripts
The jury is still out when it comes to sales scripts — should you use them, or do they make your sales development reps sound robotic and/or inauthentic? Our take is that they’re a great sales enablement tool to use when you do so flexibly.
What that means is that you do create scripts, but you don’t necessarily require them to be read word-for-word regardless of the rep, buyer, and conversation.
Human interactions don’t always (read: rarely) go exactly as anticipated. Good sales scripts serve as a reference and guide for SDRs during B2B appointment setting (and other interactions), but should also leave room for them to inject their own personality and adjust as needed based on buyer responses.
Try including guiding statements and language along with bulleted points in your scripts vs. a text-heavy narrative that’s hard to follow. During SDR training, practice using the scripts in role play scenarios so they’re comfortable using them with actual customers.
Automate, Automate, Automate
Automation may have been a differentiator even just a few years ago, but today it’s become table stakes for B2B appointment setting (and any kind of sales interaction). There are a few important reasons why. First, buyers expect you to follow up more quickly than ever before after they show initial interest — in most cases, in minutes or even instantaneously.
Second, sales development reps need automation tools to free up time to spend actually talking to prospects and providing a quality experience (vs. being bogged down by administrative tasks).
For B2B appointment setters, an automated calendar tool and AI-powered chatbots are two of the most effective tools to have in their arsenals. It ensures the buyer can book their appointment and/or have their questions answered right away, while collecting the data your SDRs need to execute high quality, personalized follow-up.
Know Your Prospect Before You Call
As we’ve said before — cold calling is dead. But sales calls are not. The essential piece to the puzzle is that your SDRs should know something about your buyers before they reach out to set an appointment.
While they don’t need to know everything about the company, they should get to know their pain points and needs, and if possible, the person who makes purchase decisions.
This industry- and company-specific knowledge is the top reason current B2B buyers say they’ve chosen current vendors over other options — 68% rate it above all other deciding factors.
Focus On the Appointment, Not the Sale
When you’re having a great conversation with a potential buyer, it can be tempting to move right toward making the hard sell. In most cases, this is a mistake. The B2B sales process usually takes weeks to months, and buyers aren’t ready to make a decision during one of their first conversations with your sales team.
Patience really is a virtue when it comes to B2B appointment setting. Your SDRs specialize in booking appointments, and they should be trained to focus on doing so (not trying to make a premature sales pitch).
Booking the appointment keeps your lead firmly in your pipeline and gives your account reps time to do the right research to move potential buyers to the next stage.
Hire an Appointment Setting Service
Hiring an appointment setting service is becoming a popular alternative to hiring an in-house team to book appointments. The benefits of outsourcing are manifold — it saves overhead costs, provides access to the right tools and expertise, and gives you a dedicated team focused on generating the volume of leads you need.
If you know your company needs a better B2B appointment setting strategy but doesn’t have the budget to build the team internally, hiring a service is definitely an option to consider.
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