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How to set up an effective inbound appointment setting process

Tanya Bahrynovska
Tanya Bahrynovska
Margaret Lee
Reviewed by
Margaret Lee
Reading time:12 m

For B2B marketers and sales reps, inbound leads are the lifeblood of a successful marketing strategy — they are prospects ready to engage. The challenge? Converting initial interest into solid appointments.

At Belkins, we streamline lead management by scoring leads and swiftly directing them to our business development representatives (BDRs), who quickly move them to call setup. This approach prevents lead backlog, ensuring rapid qualification and boosting our conversion rate to nearly 40% from inbound leads to scheduled appointments. 

It’s also how we turn 1,500 monthly leads into 400 opportunities with up to a 15% close rate. This method is a replicable strategy for any B2B company seeking growth through well-planned tactics and consistency.

Ready to explore how to set up a process that converts inbound leads into appointments? Let’s dive in.

Audit your existing inbound sales process

To enhance your inbound sales strategy, the essential first step is conducting a detailed audit of your current operations. It’s a systematic approach where you identify both the strong points and the bottlenecks within your sales process.

Here’s how we at Belkins approach this audit.

Business performance

The audit unfolds through several key areas:

Market standing

We start with a top-down analysis to understand our performance against market benchmarks. If our metrics surpass market standards, our current strategy might only need fine-tuning. However, lagging behind the market in conversion rates such as visitor-to-lead, lead-to-SQL, and SQL-to-closed-won signals a crucial need for strategic revision.

Identifying where you stand in comparison to market benchmarks diagnoses areas for improvement and sets the stage for a more effective inbound sales process.

Goal alignment

Suppose your target is to supply the sales department with 100 SQLs, whereas the inbound goal is to deliver 50 SQLs and the outbound goal is 30 SQLs. Here, you face a shortfall of 20 SQLs. This highlights a key principle: Always aim higher than your commitment since inbound channels can be unpredictable. Aiming for 120–130 SQLs when your goal is 100 creates a buffer, ensuring continuous progress toward your main objective. The second rule is to realign your goals between sales and marketing teams. 

Financial efficiency 

It all hinges on critical KPIs. At Belkins, that’s appointments. This means every marketing activity is orchestrated to maximize them. We meticulously track the visitor-to-appointment journey, scrutinizing the cost per appointment to ensure it matches our goals. 

We also evaluate the performance across various channels to examine why certain ones are costlier and which ones to boost. Is it due to lower conversion rates, higher costs per lead, poor lead quality, or the leads being too “cold”? 

Particularly with SEO-driven blog content, we notice that although lead volume is high, the conversion rates are typically lower than those from service pages. Armed with these insights, we refine our approach with a nurturing flow, intensifying our remarketing efforts or exploring additional outreach tactics. 

Unit economics

Unit economics ensures a return on every investment dollar by analyzing acquisition costs, service pricing, and profit margins. Without this information, aligning marketing strategies with business goals becomes a gamble.

Evaluating unit economics involves assessing your customer acquisition cost (CAC) to see whether it aligns with your overall financial expectations and operational benchmarks. However, if your marketing and sales teams perform according to benchmarks but the unit economics don’t add up, then your pricing is likely incorrect, and you may need to adjust the customer lifetime value (LTV). Planning is never an isolated process. It requires cohesion across all company sectors to ensure that every strategy is aligned and synchronized.

📌 Example: If you need to increase a service’s price by $1,000 to meet your growth objectives, simply raising prices isn’t viable since it would be upmarket pricing. Instead, it may be more strategic to develop new services or adapt your approach, incorporating these enhancements into the existing price packages. This strategy adds value for your customers and justifies the revised pricing. If you’re not in the upmarket, think about additional audits or training courses to ensure your strategies align with your unit economics.

Risk and resource management

Here, for example, consider today’s market conditions in the U.S. How do you anticipate the market? Political uncertainty and economic instability are crucial factors. It’s wise to prepare for the worst. With the market still shaky from a recession, we must brace for the potential of further downturns. So what strategy should you apply?

  • Make it as flexible as possible. Avoid annual commitments for tools to be ready for any market changes.
  • Consider expanding into new markets, such as the U.K. and Australia.

Automate appointment scheduling

Simplifying the scheduling process is like rolling out the red carpet for your prospects. Whether they find you via your website, an email, or an ad, your goal is to remove any obstacles that might deter them from booking a call or making a purchase. The simpler the process, the higher the chances they’ll follow through. 

At Belkins, the emphasis on creating a seamless journey for every prospect is paramount. Julia, our Head of Sales Operations, shares an insightful perspective on how this philosophy is put into practice:

“Automating the appointment scheduling process is our way of ensuring every prospect feels welcomed and valued from the get-go. Just like in product development. We believe in creating an effortlessly smooth and impressive experience on the front end, where prospects interact. Behind the scenes, on the back end, is where the heavy lifting happens — all the complex calculations, lead qualification, and additional research are conducted without the prospect ever feeling burdened by the process.”

Diversify flows for different user segments

Leads should be able to quickly book calls in their time zones. For this purpose, we implement lead prioritization and automatic scoring for efficient auto-assignment, optimizing our resources while reducing wait times for leads.

How does this impact the conversion rate?

The faster and simpler it is for a lead to set up a call, the better their user journey is. This improved experience increases the conversion rate, as it simplifies the process for sales to close the lead.

How to streamline scheduling a call for a lead?

We use Chili Piper to deliver real-time email sequences tailored to various user responses. This system segments users based on their contact form interactions, enabling them to directly book calls with salespeople of matching tiers.

For instance, leads from large enterprises are directed to tier-1 sales reps, while tier-2, tier-3, tier-4, etc. reps handle other leads based on their quality.

Leads who may not yet be ready to engage directly with our sales team are directed to BDRs for further qualification. Our BDRs customize their approach and personalize their pitches based on the specific pages visited by these leads.

This segmentation ensures rapid engagement with the leads most likely to convert and significantly optimizes our process.

Here are more recommendations on how you can establish a streamlined process:

  • Instant booking at their fingertips. Place a “Book a call” button prominently on your page. It should be so visible that leads can’t help but click on it. They should face no hurdles in reaching out to your sales team. 
  • 24/7 access via chatbots. Deploy chatbots to offer real-time support. They answer queries and guide visitors smoothly through booking so that your service always feels personal and accessible.
  • Open doors anytime via online scheduling. Embed a clear, accessible calendar on your website so prospects can see available slots and book meetings without delay.
  • Keep the ball rolling with email workflows. Set up automated email workflows for consistent follow-up. They help every prospect feel heard and valued. 
  • Broaden your conversion opportunities. Embrace all leads from the get-go and simplify the initial engagement process. Avoid complex screening that might turn them away, focusing instead on attracting a broad audience. You can qualify your leads later to select the most promising ones for further engagement.

📚 Related post: How to get a sales appointment via email

Develop sales-enablement content

In crafting sales-enablement content, it’s vital to create material that resonates with your target audience across different industries. The era of pushy sales pitches is over. Today, it’s all about sharing industry-related insights that touch on the specific pain points your audience faces. Showcase your expertise to help break the ice between you and your prospects. 

At Belkins, we’ve fine-tuned our content strategy to serve a dual purpose: engage our audience and guide them toward a decision. In 2023, we got substantial organic growth: a 179% increase in organic URL clicks, a 3,496% rise in leads, and a 923% jump in deals. 

How to organically implement content through different stages of the buyer’s journey

Since the lead’s journey spans various stages, focus first on building awareness. Once a lead progresses to the consideration stage, you have to nurture them into the decision stage where they meet with a sales rep. At this point, the sales rep takes over, employing targeted content to persuade the lead further, aiming to convert their interest into a solid commitment.

  • Center your strategy on creating a suite of marketing content that targets each stage of the lead generation funnel: TOFU (top of the funnel), MOFU (middle of the funnel), and BOFU (bottom of the funnel):
    • Start with TOFU content like engaging landing pages, educational blog posts, and lead magnets that pique interest. 
    • As leads progress, introduce MOFU content such as webinars, e-books, company research, educational materials, and presentations that address their growing concerns. These resources make sure the lead is well-informed and ready for deeper engagement by the time they reach the BOFU stage and interact with a sales rep.
  • Additionally, craft specific BOFU content for the sales department, including case studies, one-pagers, detailed reviews on platforms, video testimonials, demos, and trials. This content provides sales representatives with the resources needed to close deals effectively.

Here are the main content formats we use to both educate and engage our audience: 

  • Landing pages. We design landing pages tailored to diverse audience segments based on our ideal customer profile (ICP). Comprehensive audience research allows us to create precise, solution-focused content that addresses each group’s specific needs and pain points.
  • Blog posts. We craft them with our prospects’ interests in mind. Industry-specific, data-rich content backed by our expert insights builds credibility and fosters connections.
  • Multimedia content. A picture is worth a thousand words, especially when 65% of B2B buyers engage with video content during their buying process. We leverage our YouTube channel to publish a wide range of industry-specific content. For example, Growth podcasts featuring industry leaders and informative webinars engage our audience at various stages of the funnel and enhance our brand’s visibility.
  • Case studies. 54% of buyers consider case studies during their decision-making. Our collection of over 60 success stories showcases the milestones we’ve achieved across industries. Additionally, we strategically incorporate them into our articles, providing leads with a comprehensive illustration of the challenges we address, the solutions we offer, and the results they can expect.
  • Gated content. This content type is a key player in our lead generation playbook where we offer valuable resources in exchange for contact information. From in-depth market research to practical sales playbooks, it’s designed to empower leads at the top of the funnel.
  • ROI calculators. These tools help prospects understand the tangible benefits of our products or services, making it easier to get them interested and set up appointments.

Streamline your inbound lead journey

Navigating the journey of each inbound lead, from their first click to the final handshake, is a pivotal part of our strategy. Every interaction, be it clicking on a “Schedule a call” button, filling out a form, or signing up for a webinar, represents a different level of interest and buying intent. Each of these touch points requires a unique follow-up approach to nurture the lead through the sales funnel effectively. 

Let’s break down a couple of scenarios to illustrate how we tailor the journey for every lead:

  • Example 1: When a lead books a call directly through our website, it signals they’re prequalified. Since they are ready to discuss their needs and budget and get into the opportunity stage, we prioritize these leads and swiftly connect.
  • Example 2: Leads that show interest through blog sign-ups or webinar registrations are exploring, not yet ready to commit. These leads receive tailored follow-ups from our BDR team. They engage in qualification processes and nurture these leads to better understand their needs and guide them further along the funnel.

With HubSpot, we map every interaction, automatically routing leads to the appropriate team member based on their actions. While a subscriber may be assigned to the marketing team for nurturing campaigns, a lead who’s considered an “opportunity” is promptly directed to the sales executive. 

This precise, automated approach matches each lead’s needs to the right level of support for a smooth, effective journey.

B2B Lead Journey

📚 Related post: How to generate inbound leads

Create a nurturing sequence for each individual life stage

The journey from initial interest to decision varies greatly among leads, which is why it requires tailored touch points that resonate with their current stage and buying intent.

For instance, subscribers may require around 10 touch points (receiving a blend of educational emails, targeted ads, or webinar invitations) to fully engage. However, leads closer to making a decision might only require 3–5 personalized touch points.

At Belkins, we fine-tune our nurturing sequences to ensure maximum conversion efficiency right from the landing pages. By closely monitoring each stage’s performance, we dynamically adjust our approach based on outcomes.

Here’s a brief outline of how to craft effective nurturing sequences for optimal conversion rates:

  • Identify entry points. Start by pinpointing where leads first connect with your brand — a homepage, a specific blog post, a pricing page, a referral, etc.  
  • Customize touch points. Tailor the number and type of touch points based on the lead’s entry point to move them toward an opportunity stage. This customization ensures each lead receives the most relevant engagement.
  • Measure each stage. Track the effectiveness of each process stage individually and adjust strategies as needed.
  • Create diverse forms and pages. Craft a variety of forms and landing pages to cater to different entry scenarios. Give each lead a personalized experience right from the start.
  • Use workflows. Use CRM workflows to systematically manage and refine nurturing sequences for individual leads so that each gets the attention they need to progress.
  • Analyze performance. Use reporting tools to understand which nurturing strategies work best and how they contribute to conversions.

Nurturing Sequences Examples

Redefine your lead scoring in HubSpot CRM  

By closely monitoring user behavior and interactions with your website and content, you can nurture leads more effectively. As a CRM consulting agency, we recommend the HubSpot platform. It has robust lead-scoring features that allow you to score criteria based on user actions.

Let’s take a brief look at how you can set up lead scoring to identify sales-ready leads by establishing both positive and negative signals based on user actions. 

  • Assign scores by analyzing each interaction. For instance, grant 1 point for website visits, 2 points for exploring service pages or testimonials, and 3 points for visiting pricing pages.  
  • Conversely, subtract points for signs of disengagement, such as ignoring emails or lack of website visits. 

This system allows you to automatically adjust scores and reflect how engaged a lead is with your brand.

Lead Scoring Automation

You can dynamically align leads with the appropriate stage in their buying journeys based on their interactions. Also, the system allows you to automate the process of moving leads through the funnel, turning a mildly interested MQL into a hot SQL or even into an opportunity.

What’s the benefit? You get a lead management system that not only targets more efficiently but also allocates your resources where they’re most effective. Every lead gets the right attention at the right time.

Here is an illustration of how this works at Belkins: 

  1. Starting point. A new lead starts with no prior engagement and is marked by a 0 score.
  2. Content engagement. When a lead downloads a how-to guide, they show interest, earning 21 points and becoming an active lead in the CRM.
  3. Nurturing sequence. Then we send a series of emails, with each opened email adding 5 points, gradually increasing their engagement score.
  4. Webinar interaction. Signing up for a webinar adds 10 points, moving the lead closer to MQL status.
  5. Consultation booking. An MQL receiving a meeting link and booking a consultation jumps to SQL status with an extra 20 points.

Elevate your B2B appointment setting with expert support

We hope now you’re equipped with actionable insights to uplift your B2B appointment setting tactics. 

But there’s more we can offer. Our team is at your disposal if you need to enhance your CRM implementation, streamline data migration, and facilitate a smooth HubSpot onboarding experience. Feel free to contact our experts for a consultation.

Remember: Don’t overlook the significant impact of outbound outreach in your strategy. With over 6 years of experience in helping hundreds of B2B customers enhance their appointment setting and deal closure rates, we have proven strategies to fuel your business’s growth as well.

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Tanya Bahrynovska
Tanya Bahrynovska
Copywriter at Belkins
Tanya has 10 years of experience producing content in the B2C and B2B sectors, primarily for tech, e-commerce, and marketing companies. Working as a Chief Editor for a fintech company gave her a deep understanding of how content marketing correlates with sales outcomes.
Margaret Lee
Margaret Lee
CMO at Belkins
Margaret is a seasoned professional with over 14 years of experience and a remarkable track record of managing marketing teams in both B2B and B2C. With expertise in strategy development, analytics-driven decision-making, and team management, she brings invaluable skills to drive growth and success.