25 September 2017 Category: Blog


Selling complex B2B products or services requires the ability to influence and persuade, and to communicate in a compelling way. To achieve high value sales, upsell and cross-sell to existing clients and move them from ad-hoc purchase to enterprise-wide adoption, needs meaningful human interaction, either face-to-face or over the phone.

Securing appointments with senior decision makers can be an uphill struggle in terms of getting through and persuading them to give up their valuable time. But, it is worth persevering - a more personal approach always pays dividends:

    • Strong communication and rapport is essential in B2B selling. Human dialogue allows you to make an emotional connection and use your communication skills and powers of persuasion to the full.

    • A personal touch can differentiate your brand and help you reach high value prospects you can’t get to via other channels. Individuals are feeling overwhelmed by digital communications and it is increasingly difficult to get their attention.

    • Human engagement is dynamic and interactive and allows you to tailor your proposition on the fly, based on immediate feedback and response - tone of voice or body language. By reading and reacting quickly to buying signals, it is possible to guide a prospect and progress to purchase in a relatively short space of time.

    • A phone conference or face-to-face meeting allows you to engage with multiple stakeholders at one time, exerting influence across the broader decision-making unit. You can also involve your own team - product or industry experts that can facilitate or support the sales effort.

This deeper level of engagement and interaction not only gives your sales reps a better opportunity to convert a prospect, it provides a solid foundation to establish if there is a good fit and nurture the right relationships going forward.

However, getting a prospect to commit time and energy to an appointment is far from easy; it requires a direct and persuasive approach. In this respect, an invasive channel, such as telemarketing, targeted at the right prospects, can really drive response. A phone call to a senior decision maker, combined with the persuasive skills of a seasoned telemarketer, persistent and undeterred by gatekeepers, can get you the attention of individuals you can’t reach through digital channels. Whilst this type of appointment setting service may be more expensive than other lead generation channels, when used strategically, it can deliver a much higher return on investment.

To secure that ROI, some key elements need to be in place:

1. Targeting

The exercise must be directed at the right individuals - those with decision making authority in the right organisations, who have a need for your products and services. Scheduling appointments with poor prospects is a woeful waste of your sales team’s time, and your budget.

Once you have defined what a good prospect looks like, invest in high quality data that matches that profile. That might mean cleansing and enhancing your existing database, sourcing new data or, if you can’t buy the right list, building a new list from scratch, so that you have a solid foundation for your marketing efforts.

2. Research

Carry out research so that the sales person attending has advance insight into the pain points and issues that the prospect is grappling with. This could include pre-call research on LinkedIn or incorporating open questions on the appointment-setting call to tease out the business challenges faced by the prospect. The more insight the sales rep has into the interests and buying mode of the prospect, the higher the likelihood that the appointment will convert to a sale.

3. Voice of the Customer

Even if, when you reach the prospect, the call doesn’t result in an appointment, finding out why a prospect does not want to engage with your sales team can still add enormous value. Real conversations with your exact target audience give you the true voice of your customer. You gain precious insight into how your proposition is perceived, learn about your competitors’ offers and how you can better tailor your message. A prospect who says ‘no’ may still convert to a high value opportunity, if you can understand and address their reservations.

4. Agenda

“Nearly 57% of B2B prospects and customers feel that their sales teams are not prepared for the first meeting.” (Source: IDC)

A phone call shortly before the appointment takes place will help ensure the prospect is focused on the day. This helps hone in on current issues faced by the client, enabling you to pull together a focused agenda that will result in a more productive meeting.

5. Tailored Proposition

With the insight gleaned, it is possible to tailor the offer and put together a targeted presentation. The client’s time is precious so get to the point quickly and, if meeting face-to-face, don’t make the client sit through ten generic company slides before talking about their issues and how you can help. Present a unique and compelling case, tailored to their specific requirements, and through an open and benefit-led discussion highlight what differentiates you from your competitors.

6. Outcomes

Set goals for the appointment and ensure you focus on exactly what outcomes you need. Recap key points before you close the meeting and agree actions to be taken. Send a follow up email with a summary of points agreed, advising timescales for next steps. AND, do what you said you would do. Having established a relationship, nothing will undermine trust more than not delivering on your promises.

7. Follow Up

“80% of deals require 5 follow-up calls after a meeting. 44% of salespeople give up after 1 follow up” (Source: The Marketing Donut)

Your job is not over when the appointment has taken place - continue to nurture the prospect, send relevant updates, or invite them to events that would be valuable for them. Based on the intelligence you now have, ensure communications are appropriate to their interests and stage in the buying process. They may not be ready to buy immediately, but they are a well-qualified prospect in your target audience, who has invested time to learn more about your offer – continue to nurture that opportunity.

Whether to outsource

Identifying and reaching decision-makers is a time consuming task that needs a resilient approach. If you sales team is not adept in this area, it is an expensive use of resource, that would be better employed elsewhere.

 “The absolute bare minimum number of attempts to contact at least 50% of your leads is six.” (Source: InsideSales.Com)

“The average salesperson only makes 2 attempts to reach a prospect.” (Source: Sirius Decisions)

Skills: Your team is expert at selling, they are not necessarily resilient in systematically calling to reach prospects or immune to the barriers presented by an experienced gatekeeper. They may have in-depth knowledge of your proposition but not the ability to grab attention and get their point across effectively in the short window of opportunity at the start of any call. A specialist outbound B2B telemarketer has those skills.

Efficiency: Depending on the level of decision maker you are trying to reach, the organisation size, and sector, a certain volume of calls is essential to drive results and profitability. A standard phone system will not provide the same level of productivity as an agency’s bespoke calling platform, custom-made to efficiently manage high volume outbound calling and nurture programmes, with inbuilt metrics and reporting.

Diary Management: there is always an administration overhead when managing appointments. An outsource agency can take that work off your sales team’s hands – confirming the appointment via email, sending collateral, setting the appointment up in the sales person’s diary, booking travel time as appropriate. And, they can also carry out reminder calls to ensure meetings aren’t cancelled.

A steady stream of selling opportunities for your team

Face-to-face or phone appointments provide a powerful and persuasive environment in which to sell a compelling, value based proposition tailored to the specific needs of each prospect. An interactive setting where your sales person can respond dynamically to input from the customer and guide them to the optimal solution for their needs.

Not only does this give you a better conversion for new prospects, it provides the perfect opportunity to build relationships and influence existing customers, increasing profitability through higher retention and extended life time value.

An outsource agency can provide a regular feed of high value appointments to your team, freeing them up to focus on selling and generating revenue for you. If you are looking to increase the quality of sales opportunities available to your sales team, contact us today to find out more about our dedicated B2B appointment setting service.

Appointment Setting Infographic

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