Tried-and-tested B2B appointment setting tips (backed by our experts)
Head of AM at Belkins. Yuriy has been working in the B2B sales sector for more than a decade. His approach is the integration of scientific methods combined with thinking out of the box, allowing to achieve the highest results in any industry.
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A typical B2B appointment setting framework is nuanced and poses many challenges for SDRs — from finding the right decision-makers to convincing them to book a meeting.
From our experience of generating over 200,000 appointments, we know that creating a solid B2B appointment setting process takes time, expertise, and experimentation.
This guide will help you revamp your approach and implement our tried-and-tested B2B appointment setting tips to get the ball rolling. But first, let’s identify the biggest roadblock in your current process.
Why companies struggle with B2B appointment setting
You started your appointment-setting campaign ambitiously. But the ROI has been underwhelming, and now you’re struggling to find the missing piece in the puzzle. You’re not alone.
Most companies fail at appointment setting because they can’t figure out what’s not working for them. This list of seven key reasons why companies struggle will help you diagnose the problem in your appointment setting program:
Long sales cycle
Most companies pause their appointment setting efforts too soon to see tangible ROI. But scheduling sales appointments requires patience and persistence, especially when your sales cycle takes months.
Rushing through the process or not adapting your sales efforts to different stages of decision-makers’ journey can be counterproductive. Michael Maximoff, Belkins’ co-founder and managing partner, says:
"It takes about one year and around 100 appointments for sales reps to tweak the sales process and master their pitch."
Targeting a broad ICP
Another reason behind a disappointing campaign can be not getting ICP right. You’re taking a leap in the dark if you don’t pinpoint your exact customer personas before launching a campaign.
This could mean your outreach is misdirected and targeted toward the wrong people not interested in doing business with you. The result? You lose key opportunities, slow down your growth, and damage your brand reputation.
Ineffective follow-up tactics
Every appointment setter knows that an effective follow-up strategy can unlock multiple appointments for you. But most sales teams drop the ball when crafting a good strategy. You have to prepare follow-ups based on several parameters, like the type of responses, interest level, timelines, action items, and more.
Not creating a compelling follow-up plan to stay front of mind for your prospects will inevitably reduce your chances of securing appointments.
Ineffective pre-sales process
Appointment setting is more than just adding a few meetings on a calendar. To create a successful appointment setting framework, you need a detailed pre-sales process. This includes steps like:
Thoroughly qualifying leads
Fixing any email deliverability issues
Creating personalized outreach messages
Without this initial groundwork, you’re putting your entire campaign at risk. Since your process is incomplete, your performance won’t justify the efforts.
Limited capacity for outreach
One of the most critical reasons you’re not getting enough appointments is the limited scope of your outreach. Without a good team of appointment setters and a scalable system, you’re leaving money on the table. Here's why you might need to consider outsourcing appointment setting — especially if your pipeline is already stagnant for a while.
Michael agrees. He explains how appointment setting is a numbers game.
You can have 0.5% or 3% conversion in B2B appointment setting. So, 1,000 leads can convert into 5 appointments or 25 depending on multiple factors. When you don’t have the in-house capacity, you’re stuck at 0.5% or 5 appointments.
Scaling your appointment setting system can be challenging without a robust tech stack. A weak tech stack leaves room for manual error, mismanagement, and inefficiency — ultimately limiting your sales team’s capacity to book appointments. If you can’t consistently broaden the scope of your outreach, your progress will stagnate after a point.
Hiring and managing a team is expensive
Another major roadblock companies face in B2B appointment setting is the high cost of hiring, training, and retaining a team of appointment setters. Without ample training and systematic management, your team is set up for failure.
But not every company can afford to train and equip their staff for this specific role, which eventually builds up to an unimpressive ROI.
How to set appointments in B2B: The Belkins approach
With this checklist of challenges, you can figure out what’s negatively affecting your appointment setting efforts. What comes next?
To help you fix different problems in your appointment setting process, we’ll break down our approach to successful appointment setting.
Nail down your ICP to align marketing with sales
Defining the ideal customer profiles is the first step in our sales process. We analyze the market and interact with our clients’ sales leaders to identify their most valuable customers for two main reasons:
To make our messaging laser-focused and more compelling
To maximize the ROI from every channel with more targeted prospects
Here’s our stepwise plan to conduct in-depth fieldwork and define precise ICPs:
List the primary intended users for your core products/services and pinpoint the biggest pain points you’re trying to solve for these users.
Get specific about what sets you apart from your direct and indirect competitors and understand your ICP’s response to these differentiators.
Highlight all the jobs to be done that you help clients with and segment your ICPs into different personas based on these use cases and benefits.
Evaluate your products/services and pricing to chalk out the characteristics for your ideal clients — like company size, revenue, and similar parameters.
Use this information to finalize the titles and designations for the decision-makers you’re targeting. This step will simplify prospecting and qualification in the latter stages.
Once we’ve narrowed the ICP to the accurate customer personas, we prepare the groundwork for a results-driven appointment setting campaign by mapping out the lead pipeline. This essentially creates a proper flow of how leads would progress through their buying journey and convert.
We build this lead pipeline with a blend of different tactics, such as:
How we created a thriving sales pipeline for PowerBuy
PowerBuy, a Social Commerce as a Service (SCaaS) company, reached out to us to scale their lead generation process globally. They help e-commerce stores tap into social media to reach new buyers.
When we started working with PowerBuy, their in-house sales capacity was relatively limited, and they didn’t have enough prospects in the pipeline. We identified Shopify and AWS as the two most popular e-commerce platforms for their ICP. Then, we implemented our tactics to solidify their lead research framework and build a strong pipeline.
Powered by this pipeline, our campaign eventually led to 38 appointments with a 65% email open rate.
Your outreach messaging is one of the most critical elements of your appointment setting campaign. It should ideally resonate with your prospects and encourage them to respond.
But here’s the catch: Writing personalized pitches for every lead can be taxing and time consuming. The solution? Optimized email templates.
Translate all your ICP and market research into a few pitch messages and follow-up sequences compelling enough for your recipients to reply. Create variations of every email and conduct A/B tests to choose the best-performing version.
If your test results don’t align with your expectations, focus on improving different aspects of your campaign. That’s what Michael advises to businesses A/B testing their outreach campaigns:
You will always start with a low conversion. Let’s say it’s 1% from lead to appointment or even 0.5%. This can be increased to 4% or 5% later. For this to happen, you need to fine-tune your messaging, ICP, playbooks, etc. This can be done only via A/B testing.
When you’re ready to launch a campaign, you can easily customize these premade templates to target the specific personas in that campaign.
How we designed, tested, and iterated templates for Unifocus
Email templates have been a core element of our appointment setting strategy for every client. Our in-house copywriters have produced hundreds of templates to make our clients’ cold outreach more efficient, scalable, and personalized.
So, when Unifocus wanted to add more prospects to their pipeline, we leveraged email campaigns to reach their ICP. Unifocus provides workforce management software to hotels and restaurants — two varied yet similar audiences.
We designed unique templates touching on different pain points for both ICPs. Our templates spotlighted the most relevant solutions and showcased social proof to secure 56 appointments.
For example, our messages for hotels mentioned some of Unifocus’ biggest partners like Hilton and Loews to build compelling social proof for them. On the other hand, our messages for restaurants targeted one of the most pressing pain points: avoiding employee turnover by offering enough value to the workers.
Experimentation brings fresh ICP to your radar. Even if you have thousands of prospects in your total addressable market today, you’ll likely complete the entire list in a few years. This is where your testing will uncover new territories and personas for scheduling appointments.
Alla Ivanova, Head of SDR at Belkins, underlines the need for testing different aspects of your outreach:
Only by doing A/B tests can you make assumptions on whether you’ve chosen the right tactics. A/B tests can show you how slight details or variations can affect the efficiency of your outreach strategy.
Pro tip: From our experience, we realized it’s important to be patient with testing and evaluation. Spend extra time studying the data from your A/B tests before including these suggestions in your outreach.
How testing enabled us to identify the right industries for a client
We worked with a U.S.-based technology company and tackled one of their primary challenges: the need for more precise targeting. They wanted to map an accurate customer journey and focus on the right prospects.
So, we created a list of the most profitable industries and another for non-target sectors.
Through A/B testing, we aimed to identify the best-performing template writing approaches and examine the conversions in different industries. These tests gave us a lens into each target industry and revealed the most successful ones to tap into.
Follow-ups can be the difference between success and failure for most B2B appointment setters. But it’s also a double-edged sword — the slightest mistake can harm your business.
We believe the trickiest part in building a follow-up strategy is knowing where to draw the line between persistent and pestering. You don’t want to come off as an annoying sales rep and land on potential customers’ blacklists.
Here are the golden rules we swear by for following up with leads:
Interact with your prospects to accurately determine the number of follow-up emails you should send and how these messages should be worded.
Pack your follow-ups with valuable insight your prospects will appreciate; this can be a case study or client testimonials to build more credibility for your brand.
Give your prospects enough time to review and respond to your mail, even if they’ve shown interest in your offer before — give them the space and time to consider your offer.
How we used a laser-focused follow-up plan for GoHealth Urgent Care
GoHealth UC, an online health insurance marketplace, had only four SDRs when they contacted us. Targeting prospects across nine states with such a lean team was a struggle, making their follow-ups inconsistent and slow. The result? Missed opportunities and lost revenue.
Once we began our partnership, our team brought our A game to send proactive follow-ups based on different parameters. We used a proven strategy — first, send pitches and give leads enough time to process the pitch. Then, send persistent yet polite follow-ups with added value.
Our efforts reaped the rewards when GoHealth UC closed their biggest deal with a simple follow-up message and two meetings.
4 Proven B2B appointment setting tips from our experts
Successful appointment setting isn’t a one-and-done effort. Rather, you need to consistently iterate your strategy to increase response rates and bag more appointments. Here are the top 4 appointment setting best practices we recommend for perfecting your process:
Stay agile and switch your approach when necessary
Adapting to the market is essential for B2B appointment setting success. While you might see great results from one channel today, it can dry up tomorrow. This is why you must be agile and work with an iterative mindset to create and analyze new hypotheses — even when opportunities flow in regularly.
Experiment with different plans to improve the ROI for your outreach. This can include tactics of any kind — from tweaking the CTA in your emails to launching a campaign on a new channel. Remember to monitor your current performance and adapt quickly.
So, we switched gears and tested a new approach with outbound marketing. We used a tactic named Fake F2F to set in-person meetings across the U.S. and Canada. This helped us book more meetings and convert them into virtual calls — bringing 18 qualified appointments quickly, which was more than double our previous bookings.
Spotlight your value propositions
One of the biggest mistakes we’ve seen in appointment setting emails is not emphasizing your brand’s differentiators and value propositions. If you’re confident that your product/service can solve a prospect’s pain points, don’t hesitate to explain how you can help.
Your messages shouldn’t just be about their challenges. You should focus equally on positioning your brand as the perfect solution for these challenges.
Case in point: ed2go
When launching ed2go’s outreach, we focused on creating customized messages that stressed every prospect’s specific needs and highlighted our client’s solutions. The goal was to tell potential customers what we could do for them quickly to save their time. This also helped us achieve higher open rates and secure 145 appointments.
Gear up for the technical part of the outreach
The efficiency of your appointment setting framework relies heavily on your sales tech stack. You need the right tools for prospecting, lead qualification, outreach, follow-ups, and scheduling appointments.
With so many moving parts, there’s only so much you can do manually. So, invest in automating your workflows with a good tech stack to optimize your processes and eliminate inconsistencies.
One appointment setting tip that we’ve followed tirelessly is building meaningful customer relationships to create social proof. Your appointment setting strategy isn’t limited to what you can do before signing the deal. Much of it depends equally on what you do after bagging the sale.
Focus on cultivating positive client relationships and publish this social proof to convince prospects to work with your company. Michael emphasizes the importance of client relationships and publishing case studies and testimonials here:
It’s a research-driven buying world we are living in. Your buyers will do their research. So if you want high conversion, you should put out a lot of content.
Case in point: Belkins
Not to blow our own horns, but we invest heavily in customer satisfaction and project success. Once we fulfill our promises to a client, we ensure that the results and our methodology is converted into a case studies and a video testimonials. This is critical for new leads to believe in our services and book a meeting with us.
Work with the best people for B2B appointment setting
At the end of the day, we believe the secret to a successful appointment setting campaign is the people you work with. It ultimately boils down to the expertise and experience you can invest in your strategy.
While hiring and training an in-house team is an option, it can be expensive, time consuming, and experimental. Delegating your appointment setting to a team like Belkins, with a proven track record of success, can change the game for you.
Yuriy has been working in the B2B sales sector for more than a decade. His approach is the integration of scientific methods combined with thinking out of the box, allowing to achieve the highest results in any industry.