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How to qualify sales appointments in B2B: Belkins’ best practices

Michael Maximoff
Michael Maximoff
Reading time:9 m

By pinpointing the perfect prospects right from the start, you can turbocharge your deal conversion rates and maximize revenue potential. But guess what? On average, a salesperson spends only 28% of their week on selling activities, while the rest goes toward managing, researching, planning, and other nonsales tasks. And that’s a lot of effort!

The good news is that by qualifying sales appointments, you can make every minute count. Brace yourself for our SDR guide to qualified appointment setting based on real-life examples and eye-opening industry statistics.

What makes a sales appointment qualified? 

Qualified sales appointments meet specific criteria that indicate a higher likelihood of converting into successful sales:

  • Relevance: The prospect has a genuine need or interest in the product/service.
  • Decision-making authority: The prospect has the power to make or influence purchasing decisions.
  • Ideal customer profile: The prospect matches the desired characteristics defined by the sales team.
  • Budget alignment: The prospect has the financial resources to invest in the product/service.
  • Need for the solution: The prospect has identified a problem or opportunity that the product/service can address.

Now, we’ll share 2 examples to help you get a better grasp of how it all works.

Qualified prospect example

A good prospect for Belkins displays the following:

  • They filled out our contact form or reached out to our BDR on LinkedIn.
  • They’re within our ICP criteria, aligning with the industry, company size, target market, and other deal-scoring factors.
  • They hold decision-making power, ideally as a vice president of sales.
  • They have the financial resources and budget allocation to invest in our services.
  • They have identified a problem that our services can effectively address.

Unfit prospect example

A challenging prospect for Belkins exhibits the following characteristics:

  • They have an existing long-term contract with another vendor, indicating limited flexibility.
  • They show little response to outreach attempts.
  • They only partially align with Belkins’ ICP criteria.
  • They lack decision-making authority.
  • There is no clear need for Belkins’ solutions to resolve.

Note: If you keep getting low engagement and conversions or even no responses at all, it might be time for appointment setting outsourcing.

What is the difference between qualifying leads and qualifying sales appointments?

Ideally, lead qualification is done automatically by filtering the filled-in form data. Thus, a qualified lead is someone who has shown subtle interest in your product or service. They might have requested more information via a contact form or signed up for your email list. At this stage, they’re still researching and are not quite ready to purchase.

Imagine this: Anna visits your website and expresses interest in your software solution by filling out a contact form. She includes her business details and asks for more information about pricing and deliverables. Anna is considered a qualified lead as she has reached out and shown interest by navigating your website and several blog articles. You can capture qualified leads with your CRM settings and automation.

Appointment qualification is the next step of the process. It is more about getting additional business info from MQLs like Anna via discovery calls with an SDR, questionnaires, etc. So a qualified appointment, then, is a planned meeting or conversation. This is your opportunity to have a focused discussion with the lead and understand their needs to either disqualify them or move them down the sales pipeline.

How to qualify sales appointments (our process)

At Belkins, we have a dedicated internal business development team that employs a meticulous process to qualify B2B sales appointments along with the other B2B appointment setting techniques in their arsenal. We understand that setting up meaningful appointments is crucial for sales success, so we have developed deal-scoring parameters that help us identify high-potential prospects.

Let’s dive in!

Assessing fit with the ICP

We double-check whether a prospect and their company align with our ideal customer profile. If we don’t find this information readily available online (such as on their website or LinkedIn), we ask specific questions about their sales and marketing teams’ sizes and locations as well as their target audiences. This ensures that we focus on prospects who closely match our target market.

Evaluating digital footprint

Our team pays close attention to the digital presence of potential clients. We prefer to book sales appointments with companies with an informative website and an active LinkedIn page. For example, their business page must include recent posts, a filled-out company and product description, a location, and a website button, to name a few.

A robust online presence indicates they are invested in their brand and will likely be more receptive to our services.

Confirming interest and understanding

Before moving forward with a sales appointment, we take the time to confirm the potential client’s interest in our services and approach. We want to be sure that they have a solid understanding of what we offer and are genuinely eager to explore our solutions further. This happens via email correspondence or on a discovery call with our BDRs/SDRs.

The example questions the sales team asks to confirm interest are:

  • “Are you familiar with our approach?”
  • “What have you heard about our company?”
  • “Have you read our success cases or client testimonials?”

In all, it helps us establish a solid foundation for productive discussions during the appointment.

Let’s now move to our qualification factors.

Appointment-qualification criteria we use

We go beyond standard criteria and consider additional factors specific to our B2B appointment-setting services and our SaaS products.

Here are some key aspects our team takes into account during the qualification process:

  • Location: We consider both the headquarters’ location and the location of leads. We primarily focus on markets where we have the deepest expertise, such as the United States, European Union, Canada, United Kingdom, and occasionally Australia.
  • Industry: Understanding the industry in which our potential clients operate is crucial. Different industries have varying needs and goals, especially when it comes to email campaigns, volumes, and the required tech stack for effective outreach.
  • Lead department: We analyze the departments within a company, such as sales, marketing, and operations, as well as the headcount of the sales department. This information helps us gauge the alignment between sales and marketing, which is vital for successful collaboration.
  • Email channel tools: We consider the email service providers (ESPs) and platforms prospects use for their email campaigns. Different ESPs require different warm-up times, may have different spam filters, and other specifics. This knowledge allows us to tailor our approach and ensure compatibility with prospects’ existing tools and systems.
  • Buyer persona: The role of the individual attending the sales call has a significant impact on the sales cycle. Understanding their position helps us anticipate the length and complexity of the sales process.
  • Intent: We delve into what prospects are specifically looking for, whether it’s lead research, a comprehensive audit of their domain infrastructure, or full-cycle appointment setting. 
  • Social proof: We also note whether prospects have expressed interest in seeing social proof, such as testimonials or case studies. This helps us understand their evaluation process and provide the relevant materials during the sales appointment.

If prospects are interested in viewing our social proof, we’re always happy to share our case study section with them. Here they can explore the experiences, feedback, and results from other companies we have worked with.

Now, get ready for the tips from our SDRs in the next section.

Insights from Belkins’ SDRs on qualifying sales appointments

Based on the experience of our SDRs, we have gathered a plethora of tactics regarding sales appointment qualification applicable to inbound and outbound leads alike.

Apply qualifiers to assess initial interest and a lead fit

  • Some prospects lose interest after receiving qualifying questions.
  • Craft questions to ensure alignment before scheduling a call.

Our SDRs incorporate qualifying questions throughout multiple stages of B2B cold outreach. This iterative process is a more gradual and engaging approach that increases our chances of obtaining meaningful responses from prospects and reduces the likelihood of being ghosted.

Example: If you’re a software development company, ask what kind of services the lead is seeking so that a sales manager can prepare for a call and curate the best materials and offer.

Best for: outbound, inbound

Consider the company’s revenue to match ICPs

  • Pay attention to revenue details.
  • Note that not all tools can guarantee accurate financial information.

We have an interesting case where one of our clients prefers to converse exclusively with prospects who generate over $1 million in revenue. 

To accommodate this requirement, it is crucial to diligently verify the financial details of potential leads. We suggest conducting comprehensive research and utilizing all available resources to ensure accurate revenue information — Crunchbase, media outlets, open data in Google, financial reports, etc.

Best for: outbound, inbound

Collect feedback on sales appointments

  • Seek feedback to gauge the value and outcome of appointments.
  • Regularly revisit ideal customer profiles and approaches based on the data collected.

Encourage sales to provide feedback on sales appointments generated. For Belkins, it facilitates continuous improvement and a better understanding of client preferences, ultimately optimizing future interactions.

Best for: outbound, inbound

Check responsibilities and decision-making authority

  • Verify if prospects have the influence to improve their company’s processes.
  • Ensure alignment with decision-makers and responsibilities within the target audience.

In our experience, targeting specific roles and titles has led to the most successful engagements. Likewise, tailoring our outreach efforts to the unique responsibilities of decision-makers has shown impressive, steady results.

Best for: outbound, inbound

Incorporate meeting agenda and specifics

  • Share meeting agendas to prepare prospects for discovery calls.
  • Communicate any specific topics to be covered during the meeting.

In doing so, you can obtain insights into the qualification gaps as prospects may ask follow-up questions, displaying positive or negative factors for appointment scoring.

Best for: outbound, inbound

How much time should a salesperson spend qualifying?

And according to Mike Faherty, president & CEO at ProSales Connection, when it comes to determining how much time your sales team should spend on prospecting (including qualification), it depends on the internal setup of your sales department.

For sales teams handling the entire sales cycle, he recommends allocating 30% to 40% of the week to qualification. However, if your company has in-house SDRs, they should spend at least 90% of their time on lead generation, including qualification of leads and appointments. In cases where lead generation is entirely outsourced, the sales team can focus solely on sales without spending time on qualification.

SDRs’ roadmap to success

And that’s it!

Let’s go over the key takeaways from Belkins’ SDRs for qualified appointment setting:

  • Implement qualification questionnaires to ensure a good fit before scheduling a call.
  • Verify that the revenue and company size align with client expectations.
  • Maintain regular communication, seek feedback, and analyze meeting results.
  • Last but not least: Hire a good appointment setter.

Arm yourself with our advice to level up your appointment-setting process!

Need a helping hand with sales appointment setting? Contact us, and let’s talk about your project.

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Michael Maximoff
Michael Maximoff
Co-founder and Managing Partner at Belkins
Michael is the Co-founder of Belkins, serial entrepreneur, and investor. With a decade of experience in B2B Sales and Marketing, he has a passion for building world-class teams and implementing efficient processes to drive the success of his ventures and clients.