How to set appointments for software companies: 5 proven tips

Precious Oboidhe
Precious Oboidhe
Reading time:12m

When it comes to appointment setting, doing it in software companies is a whole different beast. Companies in other industries often have a less hard time contacting prospects and getting a response about scheduling a meeting or moving on.

For software companies? Nah. The market’s competitiveness, long sales cycles, and multiple decision-makers make appointment setting challenging. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Software companies that are patient with prospects and put in the work often get significant returns. We know this because we’ve helped many clients schedule thousands of appointments in this industry.

In this article, we’ll reveal how to set appointments for software companies. You’ll also learn about 5 B2B appointment setting techniques that will boost your chances of landing more meetings.

Quick note: If you’d like to outsource appointment setting to an experienced agency, feel free to check our results for software development and SaaS companies or to get started right away.

Why do software companies struggle to set appointments?

If you’ve tried setting appointments with prospects but have little or no results, you’re probably facing 1 or more of these challenges:

No defined ideal customer profile (ICP)

Reaching out to as many prospects as possible is a strategy that’s dead on arrival. Without a defined ICP, you’d be shooting in the dark by targeting people who have no interest in your software. This leads to wasted time and resources.

Tomasz Tunguz, managing director at Redpoint Ventures, echoes that

"B2B startups must scale and distribute ICP identification from 1 to 10 to hundreds of people to grow. A narrow, clear, and identifiable ICP is critical to that growth."

Highly competitive niche

According to the Belkins State of Outbound Report, 75% of respondents in the software industry say intense competition is a challenge. Translation: Prospects are swamped with product options, making it hard for bare-bones outreaches to interest them. The outcome? Fewer appointment setting opportunities, especially if nothing distinguishes your product from others.

Anastasiia Ivanuik, SDR team lead at Belkins, sheds more light on this and its simple fix:

No dedicated appointment setting team

A dedicated team helps you on 2 fronts. The first: You don’t strain your resources. Second, you don’t saddle inexperienced team members with the vital task of setting appointments. Without this team, your lead pipeline could run dry. Why? Your best team members may focus on nurturing and closing deals, while the inexperienced ones find it difficult to secure new appointments.

Lack of adequate follow-ups

You’ve identified your ICP, crafted great cold emails, sent them, but got no response. Follow up! It’s frustrating to feel ghosted, but giving up is a no-no. Your prospects may be busy and may not see your initial message, hence the importance of follow-ups. Also, our B2B cold email survey shows you can get a 49% reply rate after the first follow-up. What does this mean? Follow up several times before calling it quits.

Reply rates dynamics for 3 follow-ups

Unwillingness to experiment

Most companies have a tried-and-tested way of doing things. However, being rigid with your process could be counterproductive in the dynamic software sales field.

Be open to shake things up a bit and try something new. This could be a tweak to your processes, sales outsourcing, or the testing of other appointment setting strategies. 

Appointment setting process for software companies

There are many moving parts with appointment setting. Nail them and you’re well on your way to building a healthy sales pipeline.

Research your target audience

This is the first and crucial step for setting quality appointments. When you research your target audience, you understand their needs, challenges, and goals. This makes it easier to create an ideal customer profile for your product. A detailed ICP allows you to approach the right decision-makers. Also, it saves time and resources because you’d be interacting with people who are interested in your product.

🎥 Related video: How do I create an ICP? 7 key points to establish

What if you are clueless about your ICP? Target the broad market before narrowing down your ideal customer profile based on the data. This allows you to explore multiple markets before figuring out the right fit for your brand. This was the exact strategy we used to help Grafti, an AI-powered copywriting platform, generate 80 appointments in 7 months.

Craft compelling email outreach campaigns

Knowing your ideal customer is only half the battle. The other half is creating cold email campaigns that elicit responses. And this is where most software companies fail with their sales outreach strategy. They focus too much on their products instead of the value they bring to the table.

To create compelling cold emails, you need to show your audience what’s in it for them. From the subject line to the email body and CTA, each component should convince the prospect you are worth their precious time. Here’s how good and bad emails look:

🎥 Related video: B2B cold emails review: Winning (and losing) approaches

Bear in mind that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to cold emailing. What works for Person A may not work for Person B. As such, you should experiment with different ICPs, email templates, and subject lines to discover what works best. This sort of experimentation helped us generate 114 appointments in 14 months for ValueLabs, a global software product development company.

Send timely follow-up emails

Sending cold emails is like knocking on a door. The first knock doesn’t always get a response. In fact, only 8.5% of all outreach emails receive an initial response. That’s why following up is crucial.

As mentioned before, sending the first follow-up email increases reply rate by 49%. But generic reminder emails won’t cut it. Your follow-up emails have to be on-topic and genuinely helpful and must not be pushy. See how Brian Hicks, VP of sales at Belkins, puts it:

"Personally, I follow up with every single conversation I’ve had until the prospect tells me they are no longer interested. For example, I just closed a deal with a company that I first chatted with over 19 months prior! I asked the prospect why he reached back out to me. He said, “I thought of you when this topic came up during our internal meeting.” Why? “You are the only person I spoke with who continued to stay in touch with me."

Sometimes, prospects need persistent reminders to prod them into taking action. After the initial email addressing their pain points and how your service is fit for them, prioritize a change in pitch for each follow-up. Use personalized videos, relevant case studies, positive reviews, and helpful resources to keep your communications fresh and persuasive.

Here’s an example of a follow-up email template that includes a case study:

Subject line A: You or {{Referral_Name}}?
Subject line B: Regarding {{Company}}’s {{Specific_Technologies}}
Subject line C: Сities and counties use our {{Services}}.

Hi {{FirstName}},

Are you the right person to discuss {{Company}}’s {{Managed_Processes}}, or would it be {{Referral_Name}}?

Cities and counties like {{Company}} turn to {{Company}} to help design, plan, and operate their {{Specific_Tech_Solutions}}. We provide a complete {{Solution}}, providing insights to every member of your team.

For example, {{City_Name}} uses our software to {{indicate the benefit of your product}}. With us, their team has all the needed tools to maintain their {{List_of_Specific_Needs}}.

Our {{Solution}} will help {{indicate the benefit of your solution}} by giving your team and contractors an accurate, shared view of your network.

Do you think you or {{Referral_Name}} can connect me with your {{Responsible_Team}}?

Talk soon.

Manage your appointments to minimize no-shows

Once your cold outreach and follow-up emails have struck a chord with prospects, you need to schedule an appointment. For smoother coordination, use scheduling apps like Calendly, Chili Piper, or Doodle. They consider the time zones of both parties and help to avoid back-and-forths with prospects.

Also, confirm the appointment a day or two before through a reminder email. Setting automated drip reminders days before the meeting helps to avoid no-shows. Furthermore, give a preview of the value the prospect will gain from the appointment. For example, you can add meeting links, questions, and agenda to the meeting schedule. Not only does this encourage the prospect to show up, but it also makes them prepared for the meeting.

Evaluate and optimize results

This stage comes after the appointment setting. Here, you analyze your performance to identify areas of improvement.

Whether you booked 50+ or only a handful of appointments, the focus is to learn from each experience and fine-tune your processes.

For instance, when our client Growthsayer, an AI-powered supply chain software, wanted to expand their market, we didn’t get as much traction as we wanted in the first few months. But from researching new audiences and booking appointments, we analyzed the outcomes and modified our process. The result? Ten appointments booked in month 3.

To evaluate your performance, here are some questions to ask after every campaign:

First, observe the quality of appointments.

  • What’s the number of booked appointments?
  • Were the discussions productive enough to build future relationships? 
  • Did the prospects take some interest in my offering or demonstrate an intent to buy?

Second, gather insights about your cold emails and follow-up campaigns. Analyze the open rates and response rates.

  • How many leads did I reach and what’s the reply rate?
  • Did anything drive more responses? 
  • Did emails with personalized subject lines get more open rates? 
  • Did emails sent at a specific time provide better results?

With these insights, you can refine your appointment setting process, A/B test different components, and optimize the campaign to get better results.

The goal is to increase your cold outreach efficiency while making the most of conversions. None of these steps alone might significantly change your entire appointment setting process, but aggregating them certainly will. 

5 effective appointment setting tips for salespeople in software companies

If you implement our appointment setting process for your company, you should start seeing results within a short period. But to enhance these results even further, consider the following appointment setting tips:

Tip #1: Have a well-defined ICP

The best salespeople won’t make a huge difference if they're reaching out to the wrong audience. That’s why it’s crucial to identify your ideal prospects before starting any outreach campaign. This leads to a faster B2B SaaS sales process and makes the job of your sales team easier. Here are some quick tips to creating a well-defined ICP:

Narrow your target audience

If you target everyone, you end up targeting no one. Unless you have a large marketing budget, it’s best to narrow your ICP to a specific customer segment.

Identify the common traits your best customers share. These could be anything from:

  • Company size
  • Their industry
  • Job title
  • Preferred technology
  • Social media groups, etc.

Here’s an example ICP for an AI-powered translation management system for enterprise teams:

Ideal customer profile example:

Criteria Details
Employees 50+
Industry Schools with bilingual students
Number of students 2,500+
Title Principal, Vice Principal, Assistant Principal, Chief of Technology, Technology Coordinator
Pain points - Inefficient manual translation processes
- Time-consuming translation workflows
- Lack of confidentiality and security by other translation software
Challenges - Possibility of sharing different information to students
- Poorly formatted document after translation
Strengths - Efficient, secured, and confidential translation software 
- Multilingual capability
- Multiple file formats 
- Several files translated at once
Weaknesses Reduced ability to maintain a culturally inclusive learning environment
Location USA
Media consumption patterns Education-focused forums, education podcasts, and Facebook groups
Brand interactions Attend educational conventions
Purchase decisions Collaboration between the principal, head of the technology unit, and other frontline users of the software

Spy on your competitors

Keeping an eye on your competitors can help you narrow down your ideal customers. The best place to find them is via review sites such as G2, Capterra, or Trustpilot. You can acquire great insights from these platforms about the attributes of your ideal clients.

Get data from existing clients

Your existing customers are a great source of information for creating the perfect ICP. You can easily pull data from your CRM to get more insights such as company size, annual revenue, industry type, and pain points.

Tip #2: Identify your unique value proposition

The average C-level executive gets over 500+ emails per day. Other top-level decision-makers like VPs and department heads shouldn’t be far behind.

Some of these emails are from other software companies like yours trying to set sales appointments with these decision-makers. And as you know, selling to the C-suite is a tough nut to crack. They are usually busy round the clock and guard their time judiciously.

To win their attention amidst stiff competition, you need to create a unique value proposition for your product. This differentiates you from competitors and shows prospects you’re worth their time. Crafting a UVP isn’t set in stone. You can refine it many times over provided it resonates with prospects and speaks to their current needs.

Here’s an example of how this looks:

Good VP in the Email: Example

And here's the VP you should avoid:

Bad VP in the Email: Example

Tip #3: Personalize your email outreach campaigns

C-level executives are smart. They recognize emails that have been sent to hundreds of prospects like them.

As J.Pollard, a senior accounting executive at Tropic, rightly points out,

"If you are not breaking through the noise, then you are creating it. Find a way to stand out."

To do this, you have to personalize your cold emails. 

According to a Backlinko email study, personalized subject lines boost response rate by 30.5% and personalizing email outreach body has a 32.7% better response rate than those that don’t. The reason for this disparity isn’t far-fetched. Personalized cold emails show the leads you’re not like every Tom, Dick, and Harry that bombards them with annoying sales emails. Instead, it shows you’ve done your research and understand their challenges. As such, your emails come off as more genuine and minimally intrusive.

Brian Minick, COO at ZeroBounce, corroborates this point:

"The relevance of the email makes the biggest difference. Using list segmentation and personalizing your message to the last detail allows you to stand out in someone’s inbox. Do your best to be the person who knows exactly what your prospect needs and wants."

Here are some cold email personalization tips to help you enhance your outreach campaigns:

  • Personalize the subject line. Emails with personalized subject lines get 50% higher open rates. Also, adding the prospect’s name in the subject increases the open rate by 22%.
  • A/B test your subject lines to find out what works best.
  • Optimize for mobile, since 24.45% of emails are opened on mobile.
  • Explain why you are reaching out quickly and ensure it ties into the prospect's needs or pain points.
  • Provide case studies or testimonials of how your product helped other clients.
  • Add relevant CTAs that compel leads to take action.

Tip #4: Use emails and follow templates

Cold outreach is a game of numbers. Sending 1,000 emails will yield more responses than sending 100. The problem? Creating the first and subsequent emails for each prospect is a herculean task. This is even more difficult when you have hundreds of potential customers in your CRM.

To make your job easier, use email templates that you can tailor to each prospect. This saves time and allows your sales team to focus more on closing deals.

Check out these articles to see some examples of the cold outreach templates and follow-up email templates we’ve used to book over 200,000 appointments for our clients.

Tip #5: Use a multi-channel approach to expand your reach

While cold emailing is great for appointment setting, exploring other marketing channels like LinkedIn is a fantastic way to complement your email outreach.

The social media platform with over 65 million decision-makers is a gold mine for finding and connecting with potential clients. In fact, 40% of B2B marketers say it's their most effective channel for securing high-quality leads. If your initial lead doesn’t respond, sending InMails to other target titles on LinkedIn can stir things up. Don’t worry — you won’t come off as pushy unless you send 10 InMails within an hour.

LinkedIn message to a different target title

Be sure to also use LinkedIn’s advanced search filters, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and LinkedIn ads when finding, connecting, and building a list of high-quality leads.

📚 Related post: How to effectively use LinkedIn for B2B lead generation

Land high-value appointments with Belkins

The thrill of researching prospects, crafting cold emails, and scheduling appointments is second to none. But it can get incredibly tiring and frustrating when, after going through this process, all you hear is crickets.

The good news? Implementing the tips we’ve shared in this article will help you secure appointments.

That said, if your company has limited resources or less experienced salespersons, consider outsourcing to a proven company to get faster results. At Belkins, we offer B2B appointment setting services and have a plethora of results to show for it.

Contact us today to discuss how we can help you land quality appointments and keep your sales pipeline flowing.

Subscribe to our blog

Get the ultimate insights on the B2B trends and hands-on tips from sales professionals.

Agree to Privacy Policy by submitting data.
Orange ellipse
Precious Oboidhe
Precious Oboidhe
B2B Content Strategist & Writer
Precious develops content marketing strategies and frequently blogs for the well-known B2B players. HubSpot, CoSchedule, EngageBay, and Foundation Inc. — this is only a small part of the MarTech brands Precious collaborated with.