Appointment setting B2B system not working? Three core reasons why.

What if you or your inside sales BDR team are smiling, dialing, emailing, leaving messages, working hard and yet, too few sales appointments and discovery calls are being set? What do you do?

Let me share with you a three step process for getting a B2B appointment setting program on track.

Table of Contents

Three Core Reasons For Poor Results

Not properly segmenting list by probability and potential worth

Your outbound lead generation may be failing you because you are not interacting with enough high-value/high-probability targets. You are directing too much of your activity towards low-value, no-value, lower-probability targets.

Most think this is not the issue, but most are wrong. This is the #1 cause of sales prospecting failure.

Shoot fish in a barrel

If you were shooting fish in a barrel, you would not only want that barrel to have plenty of fish, but for the barrel to be drained and the fish lying on the bottom. Those are good odds.

   B2B Appointment setting: Qualfied sales leads metrics to set your expectations

Many stack the odds against themselves by allocating too much time to targets that are not as valuable you as others.

You need to do two things. You need to tighten the profile of your bullseye targets so that you invest your time with records that provide you with the highest probability of success.

Be ruthless about discarding or pushing records aside that are lower value or lower probability.

Top producers are best at allocating their time where it will do the most good.

Do not join the knuckleheads who work hard with little to show for it with thoughts such as “you never know,” “there are some good prospects in here,” or “I don’t want to miss anyone.” Those are self-sabotaging thoughts.

Work Probabilities, Not Possibilities.

Be willing to let go.

One of the quickest ways you boost results is to stop cold calling all the low-probability records in your prospecting pipeline. Stop calling them immediately.

That creates room for you to call fresh records that are more closely aligned with your bullseye best prospect profile.

Jack hammer into solid gold. Avoid the manure pile with few buried nuggets.

If your team is working hard and not getting results, the most likely culprit is that you are calling a list that is weaker than it has to be.

Reevaluate your profile. Tighten your target bullseye. Get more aggressive about letting go at the point of diminishing returns. Don’t try hard to rationalize a reason to keep investing time with a record. Let go.

Get to the point where you can say to yourself “I know this is the best list I can call with the time I have. I have done the research; I am using good list sources. I am highly confident that this is the absolute best place to be prospecting.”

In my day I wanted to feel very confident that 85% of my activity was being invested with records that I had confirmed or had a very high confidence were the best records to call.

As to the rest of the records, spend only so much time determining if they were worthy. If after a certain amount of effort you are not sure of the potential value, buh-bye record, on to the next.

A “good enough” list is not good enough

If there are better records to call, higher value or higher probability, closer to your bullseye best prospect profile, you need to be calling them. Not the ones that are just okay.

Once you are confident that your list is the best it can be, look at the other two factors that may be dragging you down.

Is your call process is weak

If you or your team are not getting decent results, it could also be that the B2B call process you are working to earn a conversation with or reply from your decision-maker is lousy or non-existent.

Your sales outreach process is a system. A pre-planned, carefully crafted series of interactions chosen specifically to provide you with the best chance to meet your business goals.

There is only one best call process for you to set the most discovery calls. There are not four best systems. The best way to achieve your goal does not change with every dial, the weather, or your mood and motivation.

Your “call process” will be responsible for 80% or more of your results. If you do not have a system, you do not work your system diligently, or are quick to abandon it, those are very good reasons why your results are poor.

There is an activity component to your system.

If you are not making enough dials on the right schedule and leaving enough touches (voicemails or emails primarily) when you should, then your results will plummet.

But be careful, increasing activity levels using a poor call process will not solve your problem. Keep in mind that the most productive appointment setters/discovery-call setters do not make the most dials. They do not.

If you are not getting results and you are working in a reasonable range of activity, the problem is not your activity level; it is your process.

Failure to sort and prioritize

There is also a sorting and ranking component to your system. Your system should enable you to identify the highest value targets so that you can spend more time with them.

Even more importantly, your system enables you to identify the lowest-value and no-value targets so that you will not spend any more time with them.

Time spent rolling in the garbage pile looking for something good is time you cannot spend shooting fish in a barrel that has been drained.

If you are not getting results, be honest with yourself as to whether you have a decent system and whether you are working it properly.

Have you wandered away from what was working?

Time and time again, I run into teams that retool and generate a surge in the number of discovery calls only to get a call a year later. “It doesn’t seem to be working anymore. We don’t know why?”

Often, It turns out that the well thought out call process, created and proven to provide the greatest chance of appointment setting success, has been completely abandoned.

Not enough calls are being made. They are not being made at the right times. The required number of touches is not being delivered. Qualification, sorting, ranking by value are not being done. Appointment setters are wasting a tremendous amount of time is being wasted calling sludge.

Do you feel confident that you have documented an outreach process that gives you the absolute best chance of reaching your business prospecting goals?

If not, tighten it up, massage it, upgrade it, then jump right back in.

If you have a process documented, is it being worked properly?

Let’s face it. The good news about prospecting is that you can figure out what to do. The sad news is that you have to do it, again and again, and again. Sales prospecting is repetitive work. Once you discover what works, you must do it over and over. Even if it is boring, which doing the same things over and over will be.  

Stop Thinking and Work Your Process

There are exceptions to every rule. Crazy things happen. We deal with human beings that at times act illogically.

There is a lunatic fringe element in any group of people we prospect and any system we use.

However, you get an enormous boost in results when you are consistent with your call process. If you focus on the most likely list, at least 80% of the results will come from consistently following your core process.

Less than 20% of results will be generated by exceptions to the rule, randomness, shit luck, serendipity, or the lunatic fringe.

There is a strong temptation to rationalize why, on any individual call or with any individual record, you can vary from your core process. Fight this.

If you have a solid process, a reason for lack of results is that you vary from your core process too frequently. If you abandon your call process too frequently, you really don’t have a process.

Even Variations From Your Process, Are Part Of Your Process.

Your system incorporates even the variations, the times when you drive off the road and deviate from your core process.

When you choose to vary from your core process or cut it short, you do so for consistent, objective reasons. You do not vary from your process because you are bored, that you dread saying the same thing over and over, that you cannot bring yourself to leave one more voicemail that will not be answered.

Your feelings of boredom and lack of motivation have nothing to do with what works. Nothing.

When you are managing appointment setters you are the one that can provide the right list and make sure they stick to a winning outbound prospecting process.

A Tale From The Cube

True story. I had a client who offered a unique environment service involving meters leaking mercury into natural gas fields. As a practical matter, only the top 50-100 oil companies were reasonable targets for this service. The contracts were worth millions, if not tens, of million dollars. Two callers had tried, yet failed to produce results.

My calling days had long been over, but I offered to work the system to determine where the problem was.

I was calling very top executives at very, very large companies. I worked the system and did the same thing over and over.

I teach the stuff, and was bored out of my mind. The same calls, the same corporate receptionists or phone trees, the same script routines, the same emails, the same roadblocks, and rejections over and over.

My tedium and boredom were occasionally rudely interrupted by a top dog that said “yes.” I ended up getting my client meetings within the top levels of major oil companies. The system worked.

The drudgery of doing the same thing over and over was brutal. The temptation to skip steps or rationalize why for this call, for this company, it was okay to cut the process short was very strong.

But I would think back to my early calling days when I would keep saying to myself “just work the system.” When I was bored or began to doubt myself, I would “just work the system.” When the thought of leaving that same voicemail one more time would make me want to vomit, I would “just work the system.”

Once you conclude you are hitting the right targets and that your process is solid and you are working your process well, there is only one other core reason you are not booking enough discovery calls or first sales appointments.

Your Messaging

If you are confident, you are reaching out to the right targets, confident that your process is solid and that you are working it consistently, there is only one other key reason you are not generating results.

Your messaging is weak.
You have diluted your verbiage.
You sound like the other knuckleheads who have called and wasted their time.
You are not giving them reasons to listen to you.
You are not communicating value and credibility worth their time.

Your verbiage is not enabling those who recognize a need and will be writing a check to you or one of your competitors within 3-15 months, to conclude that you are worth their time.

Have you weakened your appointment setting sales scripts?

Most commonly, you are pulling your punches. You have things you could say that would connote credibility, value, and representative results you deliver, but you are not saying those things.

It might be because of a feeling that being direct is being “too salesy,” which is ridiculous.

It might be because you have a level of personal discomfort laying your cards on the table and letting your prospect say “yes” or “no.”

You might be afraid of rejection, so you do mental backflips and rationalize that if you are “nice” and “not pushy” that people will listen to you longer. Wrong.

If you are confident that you are calling the right targets and that your process for calling is solid, the only other major issue is your messaging.

So you have to punch up your phone script for scheduling appointments. Be more direct. Push more value and credibility to the beginning of your pitch. Eliminate every moment and every syllable that is not communicating credibility and value to someone who has a need you can fill.

You need to get over your mental crap about being pushy, being perceived as rude, or interrupting someone. Those are your issues, not your prospects.

By choosing to prospect by phone, you have already decided to interrupt people, so you need to get over that. Having decided to interrupt busy people, how are you most respectful of their time?

Do you call them and recite words without giving them enough information to convince them you’re worth their time?

Do you fill the time between “hello” and “ we are all set” with “I know you are busy,” ”won’t take much of your time,” “do you have a minute” and “I am not worthy?” If so, you deserve everything you get.

Or, are you most respectful of your suspect’s time, a suspect you have interrupted, with a clear, direct statement as to what you do, why you are credible, the benefits delivered, and what they will get if they spent more time with you?

It takes about 30 seconds to deliver such a statement. The 15%-18% of the people you speak to who have a need will “get it” and can then conclude that you are worth more of their time. Maybe a bit longer on the phone, maybe at a face to face meeting, or on a discovery call.

Those who do not have a need will also “get it” and say goodbye. That is a successful call for you, and you have minimized the interruption of your suspect’s time with a clear, concise, direct statement of what you do, why you are credible, and what they might get if they spent more time with you.

Please lay your cards on the table, crisply, clearly, and with impact. Use verbiage that most directly communicates your message. Roll out the big guns.

You are always nice; you are always professional, but your messaging must communicate sufficient credibility and value to achieve your business objectives when you are speaking to a qualified prospect who will write a check to you or a competitor shortly.

Credibility and value knock down doors

Punch up your appointment setting scripts so that they are clear, concise, direct and powerfully communicate your credibility and value.

Focus on the component parts of the process that lead to results.  

Don’t Focus On The Result.

Hang in here with me on this statement. When you wish to set more discovery calls and sales appointments, don’t focus on the result. Focus on improving specific parts of the process that lead to the result.

Your list.
Your process.
Your messaging.

If it is not working, do a deep dive into the component parts and each small step of your process. Focus on punching up the steps that will lead to the results you seek.

Need some help determing what has to change to set more discovery calls? Contact us. 

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