46 B2B Appointment setting tips for newbie appointment setters

Are you a B2B appointment setter?

Here are 46 tips that will help you with lead generation and B2B appointment setting.

These tips will reduce the time it takes for you to become an effective appointment setter.

You will be able to generate more discovery calls and first sales conversations that convert to closed accounts. 

    B2B Appointment setting: Qualified sales leads metrics to set your expectations.

Table of Contents

1. Don’t make it easy for them to lump you in with the knuckleheads.

Your targets get lots of calls from people who waste their time. If you say the things the knuckleheads do, your targets will assume you are a time-waster and you are toast. Don’t act and talk like others. Be different.

2. Focus on the buyers. Throw the rest down the stairs.

You must keep your words aligned with what “buyers” will respond to. No matter what you say, non-buyers will reject you and become annoyed.

Forget them. Say the words that give buyers “cause for pause.” Do not make the common mistake of changing your pitch to have more comfortable conversations with those who will never buy.

3. Code and segment as you prospect.

B2B lead generation and appointment setting is a sorting process. Separate those who will buy a lot from those who will buy little. Now vs. later. Widget A vs. service B. You sort to properly allocate your time and resources to maximize results. No sorting? You don’t prioritize. Way too much time spent in low probability land.

4. Know how to select higher probability prospects. Call them first.

Sad reality. Many times, callers make 60%, 70%, or 80% of calls that should never have been made at all. Even sadder reality: that time and resources could have been spent on a prospect pool more likely to make a purchase. Calling the wrong targets – no matter what else you do right – dooms you to failure and frustration.

5. Got ADD? (Avoid Dialing Disorder) B2B appointment setting can be tedious.

It stinks more when you do it wrong. If you call the wrong people with no process and speak drivel, the only thing you will get is frustrated. There is no cure for ADD, but if you do the right things, you will get qualified prospects and accounts. That will make it less painful.

6. The #1 reason why people don’t agree to meet with you.

That’s easy. Think about it. Answer? You don’t give them enough reason to meet with you. You do not communicate sufficient value that will be delivered at the meeting to make it worth their time. Communicate more value, credibility, and benefits and you will meet more qualified buyers.

7. Smash them in the head with a 2 x 4. I did.

When I was smiling and dialing my way to setting 2,000+ C-Level sales appointments, I used to imagine the phone was 3-D and I could reach through and smash my decision-makers over the head with a 2 x 4. The 2 x 4 was the value I was communicating. Your words must have that level of impact to make a difference.

8. Never care about the results of any one call.

Even when you are doing everything right and getting successful results, there will be bad calls. So what? You cannot control the actions/responses of whom you speak to. You can control what you do. As long as what you do gets the most results among the group of targets you call, keep doing it. Think in terms of groups of calls, not individual calls.

9. Communicate credibility or you are just a schmuck.

Are you #1? Have hundreds selected you? Thousands? Been chosen by great accounts with well-known names? Credibility matters a lot. Very often individuals and companies have great credibility yet don’t communicate it. So how does your suspect conclude you are vastly superior to the other less worthy schmucks who call them? You must tell them or, they will conclude you are not worth their time.

10. Know your weaknesses.

Your results will only be as strong as the weakest component of your lead generation system. You might make a lot of calls, but stink at selecting whom to call. Maybe you are good at converting conversations to appointments – but speak too few. Maybe you have a lot of conversations but can’t convert. Know the steps. Be good at every step.

11. Better discovery calls improve margins and profits.

Lousy prospects don’t make good accounts. Meeting with a consistent flow of qualified “A” prospects eliminates the need to close for a bad deal.

12. Eliminate calls to less worthy prospects.

At the core of bad appointment setting is inadequate (non-existent?) B2B target selection. No nicer way to say it. It is dumb, wasteful, and can be fixed with just 3-5 hours of effort. Identify clones of your best accounts. Call them first.

In many organizations multitudes of grade A prospects are not being called, but the drudges and the worthless are. Segment by worth. Call in priority order.

13. Probe for a follow-up date from no’s. An absolute must.

Reality check. Even if you are successful, most of the time you reach people when they do not need you. Many decision-makers you speak to, who would be great clients, will buy from competitors 3, 6 or 9 months down the road. How many times has a sales prospect told you “No,” then spent a gazillion dollars with someone else after?

If you absolutely cannot get the meeting, probe for future buying intent and when would be a good time to be back in touch.

The most successful B2B appointment setters excel at racking up qualified call backs.

14. Segment targets by potential worth.

Your process must enable you to identify and differentiate the mega type opportunities from the average or low-profit or no-profit opportunities. If you don’t know the difference, you will squander your limited resources.

15. “No’s” are good. “Maybe’s” are death.

Be adept at getting clear “Yes’s” and “No’s.” When people “get” your value and credibility, they say “Yes” or “No.” “Maybe’s” are death in prospecting. They doom you to dwell in low-probability land. Time spent wandering in this wilderness is time not spent calling and following up on grade A prospects.

16. Let go at your point of diminishing returns.

At what point would it serve you better to let go, stop the chase, and pursue a new target? If you don’t know, you will inevitably fail. Know your point of diminishing returns and stop there. If not, you are making a conscious choice to dwell in low-probability land.

17. How many calls does it take?

On average, studies show and my experience confirms that it takes 10-12 dials to get a specific decision-maker to pick up the phone. For top decision-makers at larger companies the average is 12-16 dials. Your call process must be consistent with this level of outbound activity. Less than that, you have no right to expect a conversation.

18. Communicate what benefits will be delivered at the first sales conversation.

Why should someone book a discovery call with you? To get a benefit at that sales meeting. They give time; you deliver benefits. You want them to think, “Even if I don’t buy, it sounds like I will learn something on a discovery call.” Learn to communicate worthwhile benefits that would be worth their time.

19. Book the discovery call. Never lose focus.

Your sales prospects do not control what you do. You control where you invest your time and resources. Always steer a conversation that wanders off course back to your agenda – setting the sales appointment… booking the discovery call.

20. Don’t be a “send some info” wimp.

Are you a wimp? When people say, “Send me some info,” do you reply, “Um-OK.”? For shame. By your own action and decision, you doom yourself to low-probability land, frustration, and little results. Learn how to respond so that about 1/3 of those say, “OK, I’ll meet.”

21. Assume they are buyers from “Hello.”

Don’t chase them away with 20 “qualifying” questions or ask them if “they are the person in charge of ________?” Why not just chase them away with a stick?

Assume they are a buyer. Say the things that buyers will respond to from word one. Don’t spend a second worrying about the non-buyers. Be concerned about effectively communicating value to the buyers. Since you don’t know who the buyers are when you hear “Hello,” assume they are a buyer and say the words buyers will respond to. Seconds and words are important and you have none to waste on non-buyers.

Those who have no need or are displeased by the interruption will still have no need and be displeased after they know what you might do for them.They are no worse off.

However, if you structure your sales script so that within the first few seconds you give buyers “cause for pause,” 100% of those who could be great future accounts for you, will continue to listen.

22. Three questions that cost you big time.

Do not say, “Hi, how are you today? This is Pauline Perky from Super Service Group and I was wondering if you have a few moments? Is this a good time to talk?”

Nobody cares. You do not care about how they are doing and they know it. So, any such nonsense wastes precious seconds. It also gives them time to conclude that you are like the others that call and waste their time. If you sound like them. Why shouldn’t they conclude that?

People in authority to sign big checks are busy. Why would you give them an opportunity to tell you they are busy and end the call before you tell them what you do and how credible you are?

It takes 30 seconds to cover all bases. Communicate value and credibility to buyers so they recognize you are worth their time, and unlike all the rest.

23. Voicemail scripts

Leave your name, company, and number at the end.
After the Beeeeeeeeep, start with an interruptive statement upfront, that signals to buyers that this is worth listening to. Keep the whole voicemail to 20 seconds or less. Your name and number go at the end.

24. Objection response to “We are all set,” or “We have a vendor we love.”

Two short sample answers, there are longer options. “That’s fine. Does this mean you are never going to look at new options or could you suggest a better time for me to call in the future?” Or, “That’s fine. I don’t want to be on your back, but we do an awful lot of this. Could you suggest a time I should call in the future?”

25. Your “Plan B.” Where most of the economic value of prospecting is found.

You must set sales appointments that are likely to convert to worthwhile closed deals.

But you must also have a “Plan B” to capture the highest return on your appointment setting and discovery call efforts.

  • With “major sales,” the odds of contacting someone at exactly the right time are low.
  • Many of your targets are excellent longer-term prospects (3-12 months). You must identify and nurture them cost effectively.
  • Your costs are up front. Most of the profits are in the group that will not immediately agree to meet.
  • The best prospects call you when the time is right. You can engineer that result.

Your Plan B is a permission based automated multi-touch follow-up system that communicates value consistently to high worth higher probability prospects.

When you call them back, they know you and trust you. When they have a need they call you.

26. Never try to “get through” the gatekeeper. That’s nuts.

Gatekeepers can only do two things for you.

Provide info that helps you determine the potential worth of the target. Provide info that increases the chance your target picks up the phone in the future. That’s it.

I set 2,000+ C-Level sales appointments and never tried to convince a gatekeeper to put me through. I would have rather ripped out my fingernails. Same level of pain. You need to know how to extract worth info and contact info from gatekeepers.
Never try to sell a meeting to a gatekeeper.

27. You are selling a meeting, not your product or service.

Big difference. If you try to sell your service over the phone, you get fewer meetings.

Get good at selling meetings and you get more opportunities to sell your service.

Much of what you say to effectively sell your service is self-destructive when trying to sell a meeting.

28. If you would rather eat glass than set sales appointments–DON’T!

As long as your other options deliver up a sufficient quantity of high-worth prospects that convert to great accounts, don’t bother calling. But if you need to speak to qualified prospects now, pick up the phone.

Cold calling and appointment setting isn’t for everyone, but if you are going to do it, do it right. Don’t do it all wrong, then complain it does not work. Knowing how to set discovery calls can be your “volume knob” to generate opportunities to meet your income goals.

Remember, what begins as a cold call is the initiation of a total system of sales prospecting to gain entry to high worth prospects and build relationships at the top level.

29. If you are not using a contact manager or CRM, you are not really in sales.

Would you win a race carrying a bowling ball? Can you swim fast with weights on? If you are working as an appointment setter without using a contact manager or CRM that is properly set up, that is exactly what you are trying to do, and you are doomed.

You only need to know about five basic functions to prospect efficiently. Just code, sort, profile, schedule and follow-up like a champ. But the real world is that if you don’t use a contact manager or CRM you simply will not be able to interact with enough prospects to win. Too much wasted time. Plus, you can’t code, segment and use easy group follow up strategies that are necessary for you to succeed as an appointment setter.

30. More dials is never the answer.

More dials! More dials! If your appointment setting process and scripts are not working, making 10% more calls gets you nothing. The most successful appointment setters do not make the most dials. I booked more than 2,000 C-level sales appointments and never measured dials. I teach emphatically not to measure dials.

There are three things you measure that bear a rational relationship to the appointment setting results you seek, but dial activity is not one of them.

31. You are more likely to sell a monster account if they call you.

You can engineer that response. Is it easier to sell when you have to break the door down to get in or when you are invited?

Years ago, light dawned on marble head with the realization that closing percentages skyrocketed when potential accounts initiated the contact. Not only did closing percentages increase, but those accounts tended to be the most satisfied and profitable.

You can engineer that response with your discovery call outreach system. You code and segment appropriate to your business and persistently follow up with a cost effective mix of marketing tools so that when your target is ready THEY WILL CALL YOU.

32. You are fighting gravity.

The normal, natural knee-jerk reaction to a request to schedule a discovery call is “no.”

Your target’s immediate thought when they realize they are being prospected is, “I am not going to do this.”

For you to achieve the purpose of your call, you must reverse gravity. To break free from gravity, you must project a force more powerful than gravity. What you say and how you say it must contain enough energy to overcome a decision maker’s normal natural reaction to not schedule a meeting with you.

You only do that if you use winning formulas, take calculated actions, are prepared and practice.

33. You must maintain control of the conversation.

Once you lose control of the conversation, you will be in “maybe land.” Once the conversation drifts away from your agenda, which is to book a first sales conversation, you can only lose.

The outcome will most likely be a request for more information, a callback, or a proposal or quote request. That is a very low lead generation productivity place to be.

34. It is not only what you say but how you say it that counts.

When you think and plan out in advance what words you will use to achieve your aim and you deliver those words naturally and confidently without hemming and hawing, without hesitations, without uh, uh, uh, without needless and meaningless words, you greatly increase the odds that people will conclude that it is worth their valuable time to meet with you.

When you are searching for words, hesitating and not sure of yourself on the phone, what do you think is going through your decision maker’s mind? “Well, if this person isn’t sure of what they want to say on the phone, how worthwhile would it be for me to meet with them?”

35. The next time you hear the “send me some info” blow off, try this appointment setting script example.

“You know, I don’t send out general information. The corporate stuff I would send you is just going to tell you what I just told you. We do A, B and C. Get results like 1, 2 and 3, and, have clients like E, F and G. If there is something specific that would be helpful to you, if you have a purchase coming up, or a project we might help with, I would be happy to put something together and send it out. Do you have anything specific in mind that I can help you with?”

At this point do the most difficult thing in the world for a salesperson to do. Say nothing. Wait for your prospect to speak.

36. When you hear “CALL ME BACK,” successful appointment setters must find out…

Is this a run-me-around-the-block, time wasting, no-need, go-nowhere decision maker who thinks that on their whim you are going to call and call and call, and who is going to suck every bit of appointment setting motivation and energy out of your body by having you chase them, or is this a qualified senior level decision maker who would welcome a phone call from you for a legitimate reason?

You can find out now or find out 10 outbound cold calls later.

37. Contrarian Thought for B2B Inside Sales Reps: This is not about appointment setting.

This is about generating worthwhile, profitable sales at an acceptable cost.

That is what b2b sales lead generation is about. All b2b sales and marketing efforts must contribute to reaching your pre-determined worthwhile goals. You need qualified discovery calls and appointments for your sales team to meet your profit objectives.

Answer questions like this: What volume of new revenue do you seek? How many new accounts do you need? What is the average new account worth? How many sales appointments or qualified leads do you need to close a worthwhile account? What appointment setting techniques do I need to know to get there?

Your ability to engage executives like a B2B sales pro means knowing the answers to these questions. Professional sales managers know their appointment setting metrics. .

38. Design your BDR incentive system. A significant word to the wise for sustained b2b appointment setting programs and low turnover.

Here is an overlooked appointment setting tip for proper sales management. Your BDR incentive system is a major reason your inside sales reps will stick around. Maintaining low inside sales rep turnover is crucial to generate results at a reasonable cost. Big mistake made is to set up b2b appointment setting metrics that are unreachable.

You want to have a sales organization where no matter what happened yesterday, the last two days or last week, the appointment setters can feel that if they do a good job that day, they can make more money.

If you set a high monthly goal and the first week is poor, the appointment setter gives up for the month because the appointment setting campaign goal is now out of reach. Same for a high weekly goal. You need more than just good appointment setting techniques

The right incentive system keeps your inside sales team focused and motivated to keep smiling and dialing to reach more high-level executives.

39. Alter sales script tactics used to set b2b appointments with top-notch prospects.

Keep this lead generation pointer in mind. Some people lie. Some people don’t know. Some people won’t tell you. So, if you are going to ask qualifying questions over the phone and expect to get straight answers you are naive.

But, we do know this. As a class, senior level executives who tell you they have a need and would be comfortable spending $x on a project, will more likely convert to a closed sale than those who don’t.

So, after you have crafted the best verbiage and skillfully delivered your winning set-the-appointment script, you might want to ask two additional questions that qualify for money and timing.

A question like this leads to the highest conversion rate of meetings to closed sales: “Mr. Prospect, if the price was right, and you felt comfortable with everything, what would you do?”

If they say, “Hire you to start in one month,” those are great meetings. That type of response provides the best conversion to sales.

If a senior level executive talks about talking to someone else, convening a committee, checking with finance for budget authorization, etc., then bells and whistles should go off. You should probe deeper before deciding where to invest your time.

40. When setting appointments over the phone most of your profits are with those that won’t meet immediately.

In most complex selling situations costs are high for b2b appointment setting programs up front. Calling experience teaches us that most of the profits are in that group of prospects who don’t respond positively right away.

Your Plan B enables you to realize greater return on investment on your outbound lead generation program. A Plan B enables you to generate business from those who don’t immediately agree to meet by enabling decision makers to “raise their hands” from the crowd when they are ready to sign a check.

The most profitable business-to-business appointment setting programs have a Plan B as a strategic sales component. Complete well crafted phone script paths help your appointment setters capture these profitable business leads.

41. Preparation for b2b telemarketing is not the same as action.

If five people are on a cliff and three decide to jump, how many are left? Answer? Five. Why? Because deciding to jump and jumping are two different things!

Same with appointment setting strategies You can be determined to increase sales with better b2b lead generation, improve margins or both. You can acknowledge that improving your b2b sales appointment campaign will mean altering work habits, organization methods and sales process. You can also enthusiastically announce your determination to increase qualified leads. But actually changing and implementing improved cold calling techniques is another story.

42. Appointment setters are often “too busy” to increase appointment setting and lead generation results?

Why do salespeople repeatedly use unsuccessful inside sales techniques? They are “too busy” to learn techniques that work, but plenty of time to do what is not working over and over again. Hamsters in a wheel are busy too.

Learn what works and get off the hamster wheel.

43. If cold calling and b2b appointment setting is a numbers game, what are your numbers?

“It’s a numbers game” is a simplistic, misguided way of approaching an appointment setting program. But since so many say it, what are your b2b appointment setting metrics?

“It’s a numbers game” too often equates to more sales activity for the sake of sales activity alone. Sales management cannot let appointment settes make the mistake of believing that more dials, more pitches, and more appointments automatically lead to more profitable accounts being closed.

Sales activity alone doesn’t mean the highest probability decision makers are being targeted. Or, that the most sales conversations with buyers are being generated. You can have a ton of sales activity and little conversion to sales conversations, qualified appointments or profitable closed deals.

It is not the level of lead generation activity that wins the appointment setting game. Surprise…. top producers do not make the most appointment setting calls or pitches.

There are skills, strategies and a skillset involved. Judgment and sales ability come into play, especially with complex sales. There are strategies behind the parts and structure of successful phone scripts to set appointments.

44. Are other sales and marketing strategies superior to cold calling for discovery calls?

“My business is best built on relationships. Getting referrals is best for me.” This is from someone with practically no business. “Cold calling wouldn’t be good for me…word-of-mouth is the source of my best lead generation.” This from an inside sales representative of five years who also confesses she is still merrily bouncing along the bottom.

Both of these under-compensated business builders are right. Generating qualified accounts by referral and word-of-mouth is preferable to cold calling. But they also miss the major point that is costing them revenue. Cold calling to set sales appointments with the highest-level decision-maker is merely a tool.

The sales question is never “which tool is best?” The issue is always, what MIX of tools is most appropriate at this time to meet my sales campaign goals. The sales team that has positioned itself over time so that all goals for revenue and profit are met by responding to senior level inquiries generated by referrals and word-of-mouth is in an enviable position. All business-to-business sales organizations should strive for that.

But for most start-ups, those in growth mode and those who have experienced account turnover and revenue tightening, referrals and word-of-mouth may not generate enough new business. So what to do?

Learn from these appointment setting tips, pick up proven appointment setting and cold calling techniques that work. Focus on improving your appointment setting techniques with every dial. Pick up the phone!

45. More appointment setting success alone-without improving two other strategies guarantee you NOTHING.

Setting more discovery calls and first sales conversations, is a necessary first step to new account generation. Yet, sales and revenue increases may not materialize without adjusting your sales process. When you substantially increase your rate of access to targeted companies, your expectations and sales approach must adjust to avoid serious disappointment.

When your improved appointment setting strategies, scripts and techniques start to kick in, you must typically improve two other areas to turn those discovery calls into closed accounts.

Enhancing (1) “first meeting” skills and (2) increased focus and attention on making advancements in the initial stages of the sales funnel are necessary to realize your revenue expectations. Ignore these two issues at your peril..

46. You must skillfully “manage the mix” of new sales appointments.

Go on too many short sales cycle small volume accounts and your volume and margins will suffer. Go on too many long sales cycle large volume account appointments and not many may close in the short run, killing your cash flow.

If you go on too many appointments and don’t have the time or support to follow-up, follow-up and follow-up, you are doomed. Your new potential opportunities will not receive the frequency or quality of communication necessary for them to feel comfortable writing you big checks.

Hope these appointment setting tips helped.

If you have questions or might need help, contact us.