The process of scheduling meetings with prospects plays a big role in B2B sales. Whether virtual or in-person, sales meetings give you a chance to introduce your company and products to qualified leads and, hopefully, turn them into actual customers. So, the more meetings you have, the more deals you can potentially close.
But, how can your closing sales reps fill your calendar with more appointments and ensure that each meeting can move prospects through your sales funnel and benefit the entire sales process? We have the answer!
In this article, the experts from Belkins appointment setting company will explain to you:
- What is an appointment setting?
- Why is selling an appointment more important than selling a product?
- Is it better to set appointments via cold calling or cold emailing?
- What should you do after setting an appointment?
- How and when should you send reminders?
- What is the right way to handle no-shows and encourage prospects to schedule new appointments?
- What should you do straight after your call?
- What tips and tricks can help you get more sales meetings?
Read on to find answers to all these questions and learn how to fill your schedule with more sales appointments!
What Is B2B Appointment Setting?
B2B appointment setting is crucial for closing deals. In a nutshell, it is a process of scheduling face-to-face or virtual meetings with potential B2B customers (most often, with a decision-maker). The core goal of this process is to present your company and product to a prospect and show them what value it has for them. Often, an appointment is the last stage of the lead generation process, during which a prospect converts into an actual customer.
Selling the Appointment Is More Important Than Selling the Product
Setting appointments is a real art. But, there is lots of science behind it too. Of course, there are plenty of powerful marketing tools and time-tested tactics that can boost your response rate. Yet, the way you sell each meeting to your business leads is a true art.
Many sales teams make one huge mistake when filling their schedules with appointments. In their outreach, salespeople most often pitch the value of a product or service they are trying to sell, but they rarely pitch the value of the meeting itself. And this is a huge omission.
Here is a thing, you can spend as much time as you want describing all the ways your product is awesome. Still, a prospect may not feel like they should give you their time. Why? That’s because you didn’t prove to them the ROI of having a meeting with you. As a result, you won’t get many appointments because prospects don’t see the value of booking one with you.
The good news is that changing this is simple. If you want to have more sales meetings, you have to sell these meetings to your prospects prior to trying to sell your product to them. Your goal is to show the prospect you are reaching out to that having an appointment with you is worth their time and that it can bring real value to them.
Remember that it’s impossible to sell a product or service without selling the appointment first. So, make sure that your sales team focuses on pitching the value of the meeting itself before moving on to pitching the value of the product.
The Right Way to Set Appointments: Cold Calls vs. Cold Emails
It shouldn’t be a secret to you that there are basically two most common ways to set sales appointments, either via email or via the phone. This brings us to one of the biggest questions facing sales representatives — which is the best way to fill your calendar with plenty of qualified appointments? If we had to give a short answer, we’d say that both email and phone should be leveraged for effective appointment setting. But, in reality, the answer is more complex and depends on a number of factors.
In order to define which one of these two touchpoints will work best, sales teams have to answer two main questions:
- How big and pressing is this particular sales opportunity? If a particular sales opportunity is big and your sales reps are in a high-pressure situation, they may want to make a sales call to receive a prompt response from a potential customer. On the other hand, if it’s not a high-pressure situation and your sales process is longer, then it’s okay to send a cold email and follow up later.
- Where and when is your prospect most likely to respond? Knowing your potential clients is the key to success. To find the best touchpoint for setting sales appointments, you need to know whether your prospects will respond better to your sales pitch via a cold call or email. Thus, it is crucial for your sales team to conduct in-depth research in advance to identify your prospects’ needs, preferences, and behavioral patterns.
Answering these simple questions should help you understand what works best for your business.
In addition, it is also worth noting that cold emailing and cold calling are, though the most common, not the only options you have. There are also other touchpoints that can be used to grab the prospect's attention. For example, you can also leverage social media to reach out to your prospects and push them into your sales pipeline.
Nevertheless, phone and email remain the most traditional tools. So let’s take a closer look at a typical appointment setting process via each of these channels.
Appointment Setting Over Email
As was already mentioned, knowing your potential client is the key to success in sales. And it is also the key to getting your cold email noticed and read. Thus, if you choose to stick with email as your primary channel for scheduling appointments, you want to make sure that you know exactly who you are trying to reach with it each time you are sending an email. This basically means that you must have an excellent understanding of your ideal customer profile and ways of selling your value proposition to them.
A perfect appointment setting email should be:
- Personalized. Client has to see that you know who they are and what they need.
- Short and straight to the point. Your message doesn’t need to be too long. Instead, it should be rather short yet compelling.
- Attention-grabbing. A great email should grab the attention starting from the subject line and encourage a recipient to open and read it fully.
- Respectful of your recipient’s time. When it comes to B2B sales, it’s important to understand that your prospects are busy people. Thus, in your personalized message, you should acknowledge that and get straight to the point.
- Clear in terms of explaining how you can solve your prospect’s problems. In your message, you need to give a prospect some solid reasons for them to want to have a meeting with you. Show that you know everything about their pain points and problems and explain how you will solve them.
- Calling for action. Finally, at the end of your email, you need to tell a prospect exactly what they should do next. Make a strong call to action to encourage them to reply, accept your calendar invite, give you a call, or do whatever else you want them to do.
These are the main characteristics of a good email that should help you reach your ultimate goal — encourage the prospect to have an appointment with you.
To get better results, one great tip from the Belkins team is to test your email template on someone within your company. Find an employee who perfectly matches your ideal customer profile and share your email with this person prior to sending it to a real prospect. By doing so, you can test the effectiveness of your message and see if it’s good enough for a prospect to open and read it.
Appointment Setting Over the Phone
Sometimes, depending on each particular sales opportunity, potential client, your industry, and some other factors, sending an email to book an appointment may not be the best solution. In this case, making a cold call might be wiser.
Appointment setting calls work great in B2B sales. But only if you know about the best practices of effective calling. So, below are a few tips on how to call your B2B leads and make them want to set an appointment with you:
- Let a prospect know who you are before you give them a call. First of all, if they know who is calling, they are more likely to respond. And, secondly, introducing yourself to a prospect in advance is a chance to get a bit of engagement, which can turn your cold call into a warm one. The easy way to do this is to follow your prospect on various social media and, maybe, reach out to them in advance.
- At the beginning of your call, explain who you are and why you are calling, and give a prospect a good reason to listen to you.
- Be sure to ask a prospect if it’s a convenient time for them to have a short conversation with you.
- Emphasize the value of having a sales meeting with you. Explain to a prospect that an appointment can help them better understand your product, save time, and, most importantly, solve their problems.
- Keep the entire conversation short and straight to the point. Don’t go off the topic and remember that the core goal of this call is to sell a meeting.
What to Do After You’ve Set an Appointment
So, your B2B appointment is successfully set. What’s next?
Despite a common belief, when a prospect agrees to have a sales meeting with you after reading your email or receiving a call from you, your job isn’t finished yet. In fact, even after giving their consent, potential clients may not show up for a meeting. So, it is important that you do everything possible to keep them motivated to show up.
The first thing you should do right after you’ve agreed on a meeting is to send a detailed agenda of what you are planning to cover during your appointment. Tell a prospect what you are going to discuss. You can even attach this agenda to a calendar invitation that you send over. This trick will remind them why they agreed to this meeting in the first place and will keep them motivated to show up.
Next, after sending the agenda, it is a good idea to connect with a prospect via LinkedIn. We’ve already told you that if you are calling a prospect, you can leverage multiple media channels to introduce yourself prior to your call. But, it’s better to leave LinkedIn for later. Sending a LinkedIn request after a prospect has agreed to the meeting is a much better way to get into their network and establish a relationship.
Finally, if you are planning to hold a meeting with two or more stakeholders within the same company, you might want to find the right person to be your internal sales champion. This person will be responsible for all the logistics of your meeting. Simply put, your internal sales champion will have to ensure that everyone who needs to be at the meeting shows up. And you have to discuss all related questions and possible challenges with this person in advance.
Appointment Reminders: How and When to Send Them
In the business world, people are often scheduling meetings like crazy. Rest assured that every decision-maker that you are hoping to meet will probably have tons of other meetings. So, it can be easy for them to forget or miss out of sight some of their appointments. In order to not let this happen to you and prevent no-shows, it is crucial to follow up with your prospects after you schedule a meeting. But, how do you do this right?
The experts from our B2B lead generation agency recommend sending a set of minimum 2 reminders for every appointment — one should be sent 24 hours in advance, and the second one should be sent 4 hours in advance. This tactic will let you remind a prospect about an upcoming meeting in a timely and effective manner. And, at the same time, it will leave them enough time to reschedule if it’s necessary.
In some situations, you can surely send more reminders if that’s appropriate and necessary. In any case, regardless of the number of reminders that you send, be sure to follow up consistently to minimize the likelihood of a no-show.
Now, how do you send your reminders? In most cases, it is perfectly fine to send appointment reminders via email. It’s simple and convenient, and it won’t steal too much time from your busy prospects. However, there are some occasions when it is better to give a call, for example, if you know that a particular prospect is very busy and doesn’t always read emails timely or if this meeting is a large time commitment. But, in this case, be sure to agree with the prospect that you will make a reminder over the phone and ask about the best day and best time to call.
How to Set a New Appointment After a No-Show
So, you’ve gone a long way to schedule a meeting and did even more work later, sending reminders, preparing the agenda, and so on, and then, a prospect just doesn’t show up to your meeting. It sure feels bad. But, it happens. And, what is more, a no-show doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to give up on a particular prospect right away. You just need to know how to handle no-shows.
If you were going to have a virtual meeting and a prospect hasn’t joined, here is what you can do:
- After 1-2 minutes from the agreed time, send them a short email reminding them that you have a meeting scheduled, saying that you are waiting for them to join, and asking if they need any assistance with logging in.
- Wait no longer than 10 minutes after your first email and send another message informing a prospect that you missed them and asking about the best day and best time to reschedule your meeting.
In many cases, prospects will be willing to reschedule. But, sometimes, there might be more no-shows on their side. If that’s the case, we recommend trying a few times to reschedule your meeting and, if a prospect doesn’t show up again and again, close the loop by sending a final “break up” email. In this email, you can say that you've tried to reschedule a few times already and see that this meeting isn’t a priority to them.
You can be surprised, but such messages actually have a pretty good response rate. And a prospect’s response to it will help you understand whether it is a dead-end or if there is still a chance to close a deal.
If you planned a face-to-face meeting, you could use the same set of actions in the case of a no-show. But, for a quicker response, you can send an SMS or give a call to a prospect instead of doing everything via email.
What to Do Immediately After Your Call
After every call to a prospect, there are three main things that you need to do:
- Share a detailed summary of your conversation.
- Create a calendar with the key dates that you’ve agreed on and ask a prospect to confirm them.
- Find creative and effective ways to keep a prospect engaged all the time before your meeting in order to encourage them to show up. For example, one of the ways to keep a prospect engaged is to send over some useful information a few days after your call.
B2B Appointment Setting Tips to Get More Sales Meetings
As was mentioned earlier, the more meetings with prospects you can schedule, the more sales you can eventually make. But, how can you ensure that your calendar is packed with lots of appointments?
To help you get on the right track, we’ve gathered some handy B2B appointment setting tips that you can try:
1) Do Your Research
Decision-makers are incredibly busy, and the last thing you want to do is to waste their time (and yours too) in vain. So, before asking them to meet you, be sure that you know them. Do some research to learn more about the person you are reaching out to, their position, their company, and the problems they have that your company can solve.
2) Find the Right Time to Connect
Every closing sales rep should know that the right timing is a crucial factor in the sales process. The same is with appointments. If you reach out to a prospect at the wrong time and ask them to have a meeting with you, they will likely refuse, and you will lose a sales opportunity. But, if your call or email reaches them at the right time, your chances for success will be significantly higher.
According to studies, the perfect time to call a prospect is on Wednesday from 4 PM to 5 PM. And the perfect time for sending an email is Tuesday at 10 AM. The idea is very simple — it is better to connect with clients in the middle of the week when they are not as busy as in the beginning and not as tired as at the end of the week.
3) Be a Problem Solver
Whether making a call or sending an email, do your best to show a prospect how you can solve their problems. This is a good way to give them a reason to meet with you.
4) Don’t Take Much Time
The best way to make a positive impression on your B2B sales leads is to show them that you value their time. So, don’t send emails that are too long or take too much of their time on the phone. Instead, always keep the conversation short and straightforward.
5) Leverage Other Channels
In this guide, we’ve focused on email and phone as the two most common channels for scheduling your meetings. Without a doubt, these two options are effective. But, time goes on and it’s crucial for salespeople to keep up with the changing trends. One thing to do this is to start leveraging other channels (for example, social media) to schedule even more appointments for your company.
The Bottom Line
Without a doubt, setting lots of qualified appointments is important for ensuring the success of your B2B sales process. But, even using the most powerful marketing tools, winning more meetings for your company can be a real challenge.
Luckily, now you have a step-by-step guide with actionable tips that can help you drive more sales for your business through effective appointments. All described tricks and methods work great for B2B sales. So, be sure to try them yourself and start setting appointments like a pro!