The emergence of inbound marketing using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques to bring in new leads has been revolutionary for businesses of all sizes. A business with an optimized website and robust, keyword-rich content strategy can continually rake in new leads that an experienced and savvy sales team can convert. All that said, there’s simply no technical advancement that will replace the good old-fashioned face-to-face, shoe-leather, press-the-flesh approach of an outbound sales strategy.
Outbound lead generation is the process of actively reaching out to potential customers and engaging with them. Within this broader category specialists gain skills in researching prospects, building ideal buyer personas (IDP), executing cold calling campaigns, lead prospecting, and setting sales appointments with key decision makers.
When deployed correctly, an outbound strategy can help a business generate brand awareness, increase visibility, remind existing customers of a business’s presence, help identify customer needs, and develop trust and loyalty with customers. The role of an appointment setter within the sales process is key to understanding the sales funnel and building a strong pipeline.
The Appointment Setting Process
Appointment setting is distinct from other forms of prospecting and requires training beyond a simple sales call. The key to successful appointment setting is understanding the primary objective. From the perspective of marketing your business, the appointment setter closes the first sales.
No matter how well planned and researched, every outbound lead generation begins within an introduction of your products and services to a new prospect. Unlike inbound marketing, cold calling focuses less on the sales pitch and far more on demonstrating how your business solves the unique pain point of the prospect. Thus, the appointment setting process is most successful when the appointment setter operates as an ambassador for your brand. In essence, a highly skilled sales representative working with inbound leads using a persuasive pitch is likely to be successful; whereas, an expert appointment setter must blend persuasion with a high degree of demonstration.
Converting a cold leads to set appointments is the ultimate goal and requires appointment setters with a high degree of training, tact, and patience. Setting appointments is a great way to build those important relationships and generate new business. Every outbound marketing campaign must include representatives who are well-versed in the art of how to properly set outbound appointments.
Step 1: Pre-Appointment Planning
A potential buyer is not breathlessly waiting for your sales team to call and email. This is why most businesses struggle to greatly benefit from the skills of appointment setters. Most companies build strong sales teams who can clearly persuade inbound customers to purchase your product or service. By the time most sales people speak with prospects, the decision maker is a bottom-of-the-funnel (BoFu) prospect. Once the sales is closed, most sales professionals build rapport and prospect new clients for more sales opportunities. Building trust over time through phone calls, emails, and networking your salespeople have more chances to repeat the sales cycle with existing clients.
For professional appointment setters, this process works in reverse. Top-of-the-funnel (ToFu) prospects often do not know about your product or service. Many B2B cold calling campaigns are designed to simply introduce your brand to new prospects. The role of an appointment setter is to build rapport first, guide prospects through the sales process, and finally set sales appointments for your sales team.
Thus, the appointment setting process begins with research. Before setting up an outbound appointment, it is important for your sales team to have a clear idea of who they are targeting and why. Identifying your target audience appointment setters craft a sales pitch that will be most relevant to the potential client and pique their interest. Crafting your message is also a crucial part of the pre-appointment planning process because this will likely be the first impression that you make and can lead to more qualified appointments and sales opportunities.
Another key reason research is so important to the appointment setting is reducing effort. If you are selling baseball gloves, your sales reps would never waste effort talking to football teams. Setting appointments can be a long term strategy so research assures your campaigns are reaching the most qualified leads.
Step 2: Setting Up Appointments
Now that your appointment setters have done their background research on potential clients, it’s time to craft your campaign. In order to set qualified appointments, marketing companies use state of the art technology and time tested strategies to build campaigns. The appointment setter should consider the appropriate channel in which to send the initial touchpoint. Some audiences appreciate cold calling, others are most active and responsive when contacted via email or social media. Make sure your appointment setters know the best practice for each channel and use the right value proposition for that particular potential customer. For example, an email is a good option for longer messages, while phone calls or social media messages are better for shorter, more direct messages.
Ongoing training and testing is vital to understand when appointment setting is successful and what tactics failed to cultivate qualified appointments. Thus when prospecting for leads, an appointment setter is always prepared to change tactics, adapt to objections, and creatively pinpoint the unique value proposition during every phase of outreach.
Step 3: During The Appointment
Once you have set an appointment successfully, it is important to make sure that you are prepared for the meeting. Do some more research, so you have all of your bases covered and you won’t feel uncomfortable when you go into the sales call. The best way to get a particular company into your sales funnel is by recognizing its key needs and finding a way to meet them. Building rapport with a potential client can also help with lead generation because many businesses talk to one another, and a positive experience with one company could lead to more appointments with more potential buyers. Additionally, it is important to be aware of any potential objections that your prospect may have and to be prepared to address them.
Step 4: Post-Appointment Follow Up
After the appointment has taken place, it is important to follow up with a thank you note. This can serve as a reminder of what was discussed and a way to show your appreciation for their time. Following up is also essential because this is a key part of building relationships and generating new business. Additionally, it is important to keep track of any conversations and opportunities that arise from your appointment because this can help you build a deeper understanding of your prospects and their needs.
Trust Your Appointment Setting Partners at Valve+Meter
The value of being able to successfully set up outbound sales appointments is incalculable because a tailored, personalized sales process can lead to other benefits besides the conversion of a sale including more potential leads, customer testimonials, and personal recommendations. Outbound marketing controls the flow of prospects through your sales pipeline. This reduces inefficiencies, increases the quality of leads within the pipeline, and leads to greater revenue.
Still nearly every business struggles to build a powerful engine of prospecting professionals. For small to medium sized businesses, there are wide ranging reasons why employing an appointment setter is not practical. Most notably, the cost of outbound lead generation and full in-house marketing is prohibitive. Outsourcing with a trusted partner can be extremely effective and affordable.
When you outsource lead generation the costs and scalability result in transformation of your sales pipeline. At Valve+Meter, we have built a highly skilled team of business development representatives who execute custom campaigns for your business. Through qualified appointment setting, we can help you find the right prospects, conduct outreach, set appointments, build trust with new customers, and help you grow your business. With the right approach and a bit of effort, Valve+Meter can help you use outbound sales to create opportunities for growth and success. Contact us today to learn more.