B2B selling is a long process. Closing the deal gets all the glory, but there are days, weeks, or months of conversations that happen before the sale depending on your product or services sales cycle.
Without those conversations, you'll never get to closing. Especially if you never set an appointment for a sales call.
Setting B2B sales appointments can be an arduous task. Your prospects are busy. They get a ton of calls, emails, and LinkedIn messages daily. And they have no idea why they should give you any of their valuable time so you can pitch them on your product or service.
But if you can't get them to agree to an appointment, you'll never make the sale.
We've rounded up a list of 10 B2B appointment-setting tips that have stood the test of time that you can also test right now throughout your process to get more sales appointments:
Bring the Right Attitude to Appointment-Setting
Larry Myler makes this point very straightforward in his article for Forbes: "You don't NEED this deal."
This doesn't necessarily fit with the modern B2B sales mindset: you're supposed to always be hustling and sell like your life depends on it.
Bringing that attitude to your appointment-setting outreach can actually backfire.
"When prospects sense fear in your voice (fear of losing the deal), they instantly pull back," says Myler. So play it cool. There are lots of other potential customers out there. Just because this customer doesn't set an appointment doesn't mean you're failing at your job.
Keeping that in mind can make a huge difference in the tone of a message or call. It seems like a minor change, but you might be surprised at how much of a difference it makes.
Prepare a Relevant, Timely Pitch
In a high-pressure sales environment, you might be tempted to make as many touchpoints as possible as quickly as possible with your high-qualified SQLs and MQLs. But if you jump from email to call to LinkedIn message to email too quickly without preparation or research, you're missing out, says The Center for Sales Strategy.
Every tip in "6 Tips to Help You Secure a B2B Sales Appointment" is about preparation. Here are the six sources of information the Center suggests drawing on:
- Your prospect's website
- Industry news
- Consumer behavior trends
- Social media
- Seasonality and Google Alerts for timing
- Research data
The emphasis here is on making your product both relevant and timely to your prospect. Ask yourself why the prospect should meet with you right now. What makes this a good time for the appointment?
If you don't have a good answer, you need to prepare more. Find out if their company is in the midst of a transition. Maybe you can help. Are industry laws changing? Did someone release a new research study? Does your prospect's social media accounts point to a particular need?
Spend time figuring out why now is a good time for your appointment. Then tell your prospect.
Open With Your Value Statement
It shouldn't take your prospect several minutes to figure out why buying from you is a good idea. They should know right away. Which is why Michael Pedone, founder of SalesBuzz.com, recommends opening with your value statement.
"Appointment Setting 101: Your First 10 Seconds" has a great example of improving a mediocre appointment-setting opening. And it's entirely focused on presenting the value of the service being sold.
If your prospect doesn't know what's in it for them within the first few seconds of the call, they're going to tune out. You need to know what your value statement is and why it appeals to your customer. Then put it to use.
Use Case Studies to Generate Interest
As humans, we are captivated by a great story. And when we see a story about an amazing result, trend, or a way to make our jobs easier...we can’t help it, we are curious and want to know more.
Nicole Mertes, VP of Weidert Group, says case studies are a top 5 effective tactic for generating sales appointments. She says, “Case studies appeal directly to what they’re looking for: proof of what you can do [...] Focus on telling the story of how a project went, what the results were, and how improvements were implemented.”
By bringing up a case study early in the conversation, you get your prospect curious about how you managed to drive those results.That curiosity can keep prospects engaged longer and lets you use the other tactics on this list to get the appointment.
Spend some time before the call figuring out which case studies will be most relevant to your prospect. The more relevant the case study, the more convincing and valuable it will be.
Exactly when you bring up the case study in the outbound sequence is up to you. Key would be to test, and then test some more, on multiple prospects to see where you are getting the most response (clicks, call backs, or verbal affirmation) to introducing the case study.
Ask for the Appointment
Some sales professionals—especially those new to the field—tend to talk around what they want instead of addressing it head-on. But if you want to set appointments, you need to come out and ask for them.
Steve Stauning makes this point clear in "The Secret to Setting Appointments That Show." This article stands out from the ones we've looked at previously: it doesn't focus on B2B appointment setting. It's actually about getting appointments to sell cars.
But stick with me.
Stauning brings up a lot of great points that are applicable to B2B appointment-setting. For example, he emphasizes the importance of a sense of urgency. Your prospect needs to know that they don't have all the time in the world to make a decision. Maybe you have a sale going on, or a busy season is coming up.
He brings up the importance of overcoming objections, getting a firm commitment for a specific time, setting a specific goal for the appointment, and how to use a recap to get a strong mental commitment.
This tip was intended for car salespeople. But it's highly applicable to B2B appointment-setting.
Sell the Appointment
Your value statement tells customers why they should consider buying your product or service. Case studies convince your prospect that you can help them. But early outreach isn’t about selling—it’s about setting appointments.
So you need to make sure your prospect sees the value in setting the appointment. "Think about the last time someone called or emailed asking for a few minutes of your time," says Steli Efti from Close.
"If you said yes, it was probably because they proved to you the ROI of taking the meeting. That’s exactly what you need to do when you’re trying to set more appointments."
Before you make that call or draft that first message, take a minute to think about what return you're providing on your prospect's investment of time. Then make sure they know what they're getting.
Automate What You Can
Ok - so maybe this one isn’t “timeless.” Automation entered the sales world only over the last decade or so. However, it’s still an important strategy to consider.
While sales can never be fully automated, you can use automation to your advantage in setting appointments. Chatbots are becoming increasingly valuable in setting B2B sales appointments, says Matt Duczeminski in his Apruve blog post, "The Best Tactics for B2B Appointment Setting in 2018."
At the very least, chatbots can connect interested prospects to the right reps so you can make those appointments quickly. But improved technology means that advanced chatbots can take over inbound appointment setting completely. They can qualify prospects and find a time that works for one of your sales reps and the prospect.
Automating outbound appointment setting is possible too. You can take advantage of technology and service providers to reduce the time burden on your team - shout out of course to Leadium appointment setting services.
Reach Out Using Different Methods
Outbound appointment setting is traditionally done via email outreach and phone calls. But to stand out from the huge number of sales pitches people get every week, you'll need to do something different.
RAIN Group's Bob Croston recommends mixing things up:
- Leave a voicemail
- Send an email (with a great subject line)
- Post a package - using Sendoso is always a solid choice
- Send a handwritten note - Wupp will do it for you!
- Mark up an article and send it
You could also reach out on social media, try to catch someone at an event, send a carrier pigeon . . . the possibilities are nearly endless. The point is to be creative and stand out. Not everyone responds well to calls and emails. Switch things up to get better responses.
Don't Reconfirm the Appointment
This one might be surprising, but there's good logic behind it. If you set an appointment a couple weeks out, you might be tempted to send an email reminding your prospect of the meeting.
It seems like a reasonable thing to do—you don't want them to forget, right? But ZoomInfo points out that this gives your contact an opportunity to reconsider and cancel the meeting. You want to avoid this.
With good calendaring integration using Outreach, you shouldn't have to worry about someone forgetting about your appointment. Don't open up a chance to cancel when you don't have to.
Find What Works for You
No piece of advice works for everyone. Every company, product line, and sales professional has their own strategies that work. Test out the advice above throughout your own sales process to figure out what works for you and stick with it.
And be sure to read our case study on how our appointment-setting service got over 150 appointments with companies like Apple, Tiffany &Co., and PepsiCo for one of our clients! It might give you even more ideas on how to set more B2B sales appointments.