B2B Communication and Appointment Setting

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Michael Maximoff
Published
11.17.2019
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15m
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We have mentioned moving your prospects towards the appointment-setting stage a lot. By now, you might be wondering what exactly we mean.

We already know that the appointment setting is not merely adding the date of a meeting to the calendar and calling it a day. Appointment setting is a process that involves a lot of nurturing, talking, and nudging in the right direction.  

By the time we started off as an independent lead-generating business, we didn’t have a tutorial or an instruction to scoring deals and prompting our prospects to schedule an appointment right here, right now. All we had at our disposal was our experience of working with the sales team and being the link between our employers and their customers. 

How did that experience help us to provide appointment-setting services and make progress? 

Rules To Appointment-Setting Communication 

It takes more than one call

Don’t even hope to bring your prospects and sales executives together on the spot, — especially if you decide to start with a cold calls. Time goes by very quickly and your prospects value every minute. Modern audiences hate wasting time on talking if they don’t see how it benefits them. You interrupting their routine with a call means they may miss out on volumes of useful information or activities. 

This is why we always start with cold emails. They let our prospects take some time to consider our services, look us up, read some Clutch reviews and by the time a second-wave email arrives, there is a high chance of them being interested in responding and even agreeing to speak with our sales executive. 

The impersonal approach puts people off

“Nothing personal, just business” doesn’t work in real life. There are two types of sales managers: 

  1. The Drone. Monotonous, by the book, recite the company’s value proposition instead of describing it. Mentions the advantages that don’t fit you because they couldn’t care less about adjusting the proposition to your needs. It is highly impersonal yet polite, sounds like a human answering machine
  2. The Barnacle. Overly friendly tries really hard to be a chum. Asks about your routine and give out empty praises. Applies too much effort to be likable and therefore gives off a strong vibe of insincerity and duplicity. Calls you up religiously, sends tons of emails if ignored, never drops the chummy tone. Feels like an ex who just can’t let go.

Both of these types are insanely annoying and not personalized in the slightest. The only reason why they still deliver results is that some prospects become tired and desperate enough to agree to a call. However, nowadays, it’s more likely to end in a scandal and a lawsuit.

Before you begin speaking with your customer, you must be keeping this set of “Who? Why? How?” in your head. 

Who?

Who are you? You are a representative of your company. You are a business person who knows the strong points of your brand. 

Who is your prospect? Your prospect is the person you’re interested in working with because of the opportunities and possibilities your partnership may provide

Together, you are the professionals with mutual respect for each other`s time and efforts. You are amicable and mindful.

Why? 

Why do you call? You want your company to benefit, of course. However, you also want the efficiency of your products and services to be tested and proven by multiple happy customers so the word goes around and attracts new audiences and revenue

The only way to make it happen is to provide quality. It means both the quality of services and the quality of communication.

How?

If you built your ICP right, you should know certain things about your prospect:

  1. Their age;
  2. Their preferred use of technology; 
  3. Their company size; 
  4. Their struggle of the market; 
  5. Their top-of-mind concerns.

Therefore, you don’t have to look for generic topics to begin the conversation. Say “Hello,” ask your prospects about how they’re doing, but don’t try to befriend them. Your tone should show that you care about them, are willing to hear them out and give them enough space to make their own choices and conclusions.

By doing so, you present yourself as The Expert: the type of the sales executive your prospects would love to speak and share their relevant issues with. In time, you will naturally learn to diversify and adapt your approach.

For instance, our bilingual sales executives can switch the conversation from English to French and German to make the prospect, who is a French/German speaker feel more at ease and “at home” when it comes to discussing the issues of their business and their demand for a vendor.

Never deny the obvious

It makes no sense to convince your prospect that you’re not trying to sell to them. Why else would a random person be reaching out if they need nothing from you? Your prospects will think the same.

Be honest with them: yes, you do want to sell.

What you want to sell and how you want to sell is an entirely different thing. Before we start offering, we ask questions. We let our prospects lead the conversation and share their frustrations. Then we get to respond and: 

  1. Acknowledge their situation and describe our experience with solving it;
  2. Outline several case studies with clients from the same niche;
  3. Describe the process of our work and the benefits our prospects will get.

We want to sell what works for our customers — not what works for us. 

Keep the sales pitch for decision-makers 

common mistake that many sales executives make is that they start pitching their services to the wrong crowd. As they look for the decision maker, they describe the value proposition in great detail to any person in the company, tiring everyone out even before the decision-maker becomes involved.

If the person you’re speaking with doesn’t cover the areas that are relevant to your product or service, they have no need for the benefits you describe. They don’t know why those advantages give your brand the edge; they don’t know what to do with all the information you pile upon them. Moreover, they have their hands full, so they won’t take kindly dealing with something not included in their duties. 

By pestering the titles that don’t cover your field of interest, you risk not moving forward in your sales cycle. They won’t retell your extensive value proposition to the decision-maker. If they do, it will be a much shorter version without the necessary emphasis

If you’re not sure who is your real target in the company, ask around. Introduce your services briefly and keep the juicy details for those who care about them. The titles will appreciate you being mindful of their time and will help you find the right person a lot more eagerly.

Build bridges

Accept the fact that your prospects will have concerns and objections. Let them say it.

Don’t interrupt.

Acknowledge their situation. 

At this point, you and your prospect are standing on two opposite shores. Your prospect is very comfortable on their shore; they don’t see the need to cross the fast and dangerous stream just to reach you. They can walk away any minute. 

Since you are the one who must reach them, you need to find a way to them. In that case, you won’t be throwing rocks; you will be making a bridge, making a connection.

Understanding.

By responding with empathy and understanding of your prospect’s reluctance, you give them enough reasons to pause and hear what you have to say. From that point, you can continue bridging your conversation, elaborating on the specifics of your services and how you’ve helped businesses in the prospect’s industry.

Don’t pressure the prospect into setting an appointment right here, right now. Give them some room. Offer to follow up later if they’re busy right now. If your prospect is dead set on not closing any deals, back out gracefully and leave your contact data. In case your prospect changes their mind, the bridge will still be there, ready for them.
 



Actual appointment-setting experts never promise you success with every prospect or claim to score appointments with 100% of all prospects. The sad truth about appointment-setting is that you can never guarantee that every meeting will end in a closed deal or that all your prospects will even show up at the scheduled time. 
 

There will always be no-shows. 

 

A part of your end-of-funnel audience will stray, no matter what you do. 

It doesn’t depend on your techniques or your marketing. It happens because people are people. Sometimes they change their mind before the meeting and you can’t really influence them once that happens. 

The only solution is to increase the number of prospects that arrive at the final stage of your sales funnel and, as a result, increase the number of appointments. You should also never forget about reaching out to the prospects who didn’t show up. Even if you don’t schedule another appointment with them, you know why they didn’t show. Knowing this goes a long way. 

Naturally, communication is the key to a better, more productive, and organized appointment-setting process. 

We will continue sharing tips and tricks that help you remove all the roadblocks and generate more meetings.

Appointment-setting rules: What else you should know

Always ensure availability

When it comes to choosing the time and day for the appointment, some sales teams make the mistake of speaking over their prospects. They say the time, the place, and the day without thinking about the potential customer’s comfort. As a result, they get more no-shows because some prospects agree to the meeting while knowing that they are quite likely not to show up. 

You should always approach your sales delicately and show full awareness of the fact that you’re interrupting your prospect’s routine, so you want to make your interaction as convenient as possible. When it’s cold outreach, you start with brief and informative introduction templates. When it’s appointment-setting, you adjust to your prospect’s schedule and workflow. 

Before you start talking about appointments, you should ask your prospects what their schedule looks like, how busy they are and if they are up for a conversation with your sales executive. If you’re planning a face-to-face meeting, you must first find out where your prospects can meet your sales executive. Is it their office? A cafe of choice? A trade show? 

If that’s an appointment via Skype or any other messenger, ask your prospects when they are able to take a call. Some people prefer to chat in the morning, while others choose to call in the evening. 

We’re firmly against using sales scripts in B2B outreach. They don't’ sound human and leave no space for creativity or natural communication. Instead, the prospects have to deal with a sales executive who can’t say even a couple of words without consulting with a paper. Moreover, if you teach your sales teams to work via a script, you dissuade them from thinking on their own. They can’t improvise. They sound less interested in the prospects’ situation. And they show less flexibility when they need to think fast and offer prompt solutions to pacify potential customers. 

However, a sales pitch is not a sales script. It’s more like a set of lines that work and that you can use in building your phrases and templates. The best way for you to create a solid arsenal of appointment-generating techniques is to write down every line you use and decide which campaign it fits best. 

At Belkins, our sales teams work with recommendations from the senior employees but they are encouraged to build sales pitches of their own. It helps them to be more confident in their communication and choose the best approach for each campaign intuitively. 

Don’t sell appointments in a first call 

You will fail. 

Modern B2B buyers don’t shy away from research. They know what they need and what they’re looking for. They use the internet to explore your business inside and out to ensure they will be closing the best deal for their business, assuming you let them do so, of course. 

At Belkins, our communication doesn’t start with a call, but with an email. It’s a less frustrating and more effective way for our potential customers to learn more about us, our services, and what we have to offer. Emails ensure they have enough time to do their research, check our credentials, and see where they want to go from there. 

After that, we take a call with a prospective customer. Even then we don’t push them towards a face-to-face meeting or to make a deal. 

  • We ask them about their business. We let our prospective buyers voice their concerns, their thoughts about their work, and their vision for their brand. It provides useful information and it allows us to understand the prospect’s mood, as well as their approach to changes and improvements.
  • We speak positively about the client’s company. It may seem like an obvious thing, but few people are really aware of the importance of highlighting the strongest traits of their prospect’s business. The “Did you know you could get 50% more revenue you’re getting now?” approach is obsolete and outdated. It pushes people away, instead of drawing them in. What you can do is highlight working with businesses similar to the prospect’s business, tell how you dealt with the challenges, and outline the growth perspectives of your prospect.
  • We don’t make promises we can’t keep. We avoid talking about fail-proof plans, lack of regrets, and other colorful sentiments. The language of numbers and statistics is more reliable. As we introduce our infographics, the average number of appointments we can score, the open rates we manage to achieve, and the number of inboxes we can work with, we create a clear picture of our processes and how we provide our services. When prospects have something more definite and tangible, it’s easier for them to understand their chances with a certain vendor and their cooperation opportunities.

Be in love with your services

There is a huge difference between presenting services and proudly introducing your services. Believe it or not, your prospects can pick up on a phony pitch. If you introduce your brand in a monotonous, by-the-book way, your potential customers will know how disinterested you are. And if you cannot find it in yourself to care about your business, why should your prospects care? 

Of course, it’s not possible to make someone care about something, especially if you just throw all of your trainees into a sales communication frat without explaining anything, but expecting them to deliver results. 

This is why we take our time with our new employees. When they first arrive, they go through a trial period. During this time, they work with our senior team members, learning how to communicate with the target audience, how to craft exclusive email sales templates, and how to build a unique value proposition and sales pitch. After the trial ends, new workers are assessed by our colleagues in the United States. If everything is okay, they are allowed to work with the customers of our clients. 

With that approach, we manage to tackle several issues in: 

  • Develop a sales culture. Our new sales team members can be very professional and skilled, yet they still require adaptation to the company’s values, philosophy, and pace. Our teams must work in sync, never letting a fellow member fall behind. Also, this communication creates more opportunities for our new experts to understand what we do and why it’s awesome. The disposition of the sales executive speaks volumes about the business’s efficiency. And we want our teams to speak sincerely.
  • Ensure top-quality performance. Our new employees have plenty of space and time to practice and hone their skills. When they are given a new task, they are more confident about what they are going to do and how they are going to meet their KPIs. To us, it’s safer to prepare our new teams in advance before they are assigned to work with our customer’s leads.

Establish your responsibilities

Each email and call is another step towards the ultimate goal. The more coherent and structured your communication is, the sooner you will hit the appointment-setting stage. Once you do, stick to the point. And ensure your prospects do the same. 

  • After your prospects agree to make an appointment, send an email with the key takeaways from your conversation.
  • Establish deadlines. When will your prospects submit the brief? When will you send an estimate? Add those days to the calendar and send the link to the prospects so they can confirm their participation.

It’s important to generate engagement with every little step. The more involved your prospects feel, the easier it is for them to stay involved and be willing to meet you. 

 

What’s next?

Let’s say you managed to schedule an appointment with your prospect. Where do you go from there? Letting things go their way and idly waiting for the Big Day is out of the question. Even if everything went splendidly, and you felt that your prospect was genuinely interested, it doesn’t prevent things from going wrong. Anything from a meteor crash to your prospects simply forgetting about the appointment can still happen. 

Send reminders

People forget. It has nothing to do with you or your business. When you work with a super busy audience, you need to be aware that your prospects have a lot on their plates. It helps when you to take responsibility for reminding your prospects about your meeting. 

But,  how do you remind potential customers about an appointment without coming off as annoying or intrusive? You don’t have to call your prospects every day, but you should send no less than two reminders.

We recommend sending reminders: 

  • A day before the meeting. Make your reminder relevant and give prospects enough time to think about whether or not they can meet you on the scheduled date.
  • An hour before meeting. This ensures that you won’t be dealing with a no-show. If the prospect responds or makes their presence known, you can prepare the agenda of the meeting. If you send a reminder and your prospects don’t show up, it gives you an opportunity to reach out to them and start processing them as no-shows.

Approach no-shows carefully

If your prospects don’t call you on the designated day, don’t be in a hurry to drop 100 emails into their inbox. But, don’t wait a week before contacting them. You should always act before your prospect’s trail goes cold. But, instead of pursuing, coax them out carefully. At Belkins, our algorithm of interacting with no-shows looks like this: 

Day of the meeting

  • The prospect doesn’t respond in 2 minutes. Send them a message about the appointment and let them know you’re waiting for them. Attach the meeting agenda or make a quick recall of everything you intended to discuss at the meeting to brief your prospects.
  • The prospect doesn’t respond in 10 minutes. Send an email to let them know they are missing the appointment. But, instead of pushing them to join you right away, ask if it’s the best time to call and give them the option to reschedule.

2-3 days after

If the prospect didn’t respond to any of your messages, you may duplicate your previous messages. Or, if you see that your prospect is not coming back, you can inquire about whether they changed their mind and want to shift gears. Make it clear you don’t want to pressure them, but you do need a clear response. 

If it’s not the first time you reschedule an appointment for your prospect and they still don’t show up, send them a final message asking them if they’re interested in dealing with you. Doing so may seem counterproductive, but wasting your time and energy on the prospects who are never going to reciprocate is even less rewarding. 

Summary

In the course of our work with B2B leads, we learned to find balance in the conversation and keep several things in mind:

  1. Structure the pattern of communication with the prospects  in your head and stick to it;
  2. Be honest about wanting to close a deal;
  3. Be interested in that deal actually helping prospects;
  4. Be ready to invest your time in talking to your prospects;
  5. Be The Expert, not The Drone, not The Barnacle;
  6. Reach out to your prospects with respect.

We find the process of appointment-setting very intuitive. The more you speak with your prospects, the more you understand them. The more you understand them, the easier it is for you to choose the best message and moment to suggest an appointment. Honing your appointment-setting skills takes time. There are several key points you should focus on when finding your voice and your unique approach to appointment-setting. 

  1. Meet your prospects halfway. Always ensure that your offer is not about you, but about your prospects, their comfort, and convenience. Provide them with a choice of when and how to meet you.
  2. Make relationships, not sales. Don’t get ahead of yourself when taking a call with your prospects. Just because your potential buyers want to speak with you, doesn’t mean that they want to buy from you. It’s just the beginning and everything depends on you.
  3. Speak with care. Sound enthusiastic about your services and show that you’re passionate about what you do and not how you sell. Your prospects will share your fascination.
  4. Tell your prospects what to do. When you move to the appointment-setting stage, you should be more instructive and mindful of your prospects’ steps. They should know their deadlines, your plans and the actions that will follow. However, make sure not to pressure them. Your communication should always be a dialogue.
  5. Remind and let go tactfully. Send your prospects reminders of the upcoming appointment to keep them engaged till the very end. If your prospects prefer to remain no shows, regardless of your efforts, know when to back off. Ask politely for clarifications.

Do you have any appointment-setting experience you would like to share? Want to consult with us on your appointment-setting routine? We are always ready to chat and help you out. 

Michael Maximoff

Co-founder and Managing Partner at Belkins
Mike has more than 10 years of experience in the digital marketing and technology sector selling to SMB internationally. Michael leads Belkins' sales force and responsible for biz development and new partnerships.

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