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What is B2B appointment setting and when to use it

Michael Maximoff
Michael Maximoff
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What are the chances of cold emailing becoming your next lead generation channel? What’d be the return on investment? Driveline, for example, closed a $1.5-million deal out of 90-plus meeting appointments. Likewise, 35% of B2B SDRs claim email is the most successful outbound channel for getting responses.

Want this to be the case for you too? We’ll equip you with B2B appointment-setting fundamentals and best practices to make it happen.

You’ll learn the following:

  • How to understand when you should and shouldn’t start with appointment setting
  • The 6-step process for B2B appointment setting
  • The cost of B2B appointment setting
  • And more B2B appointment setting tips

Let’s get started!

What is B2B appointment setting?

B2B appointment setting is the multistep process of reaching out to potential clients to schedule meetings or presentations to discuss a product or service. It involves not just phone calls or emails but also research, qualification, personalization, and relationship building. The goal is to make personal connections with potential clients and increase the likelihood of securing a sale.

And what is the difference between lead generation and appointment setting? In fact, lead generation focuses on finding prospects, collecting as much information about them as possible, and evaluating their potential to buy. At the same time, B2B appointment setting is about scheduling calls with the leads you found to discuss your possible collaboration and convert them into deals.

When should you consider appointment setting as part of your B2B sales strategy?

Qualified appointment setting can be a powerful tool for B2B companies, and it’s worth considering when you’re aiming for the points listed below.

You want to increase sales leads

You don’t want your sales reps to just sit around waiting for leads to come in. You want them to be proactive, reach out to potential clients, and build relationships. That’s where appointment setting comes in. You’re opening the door to more sales leads by requesting for a meeting with potential clients.

For example, GoHealth UC generated 376 meetings from cold email outreach and closed 4 deals totaling over $400,000 in revenue within 3 months.

Likewise, Pavilion has discovered that most B2B SDR teams are self-sourcing leads, filling their pipeline with 50% of outbound leads on average.

The Percent of Leads Generated Thanks to Appointment Setting

You want to enhance personalization and improve ROI

B2B sales often involve complex products or services that require a deep understanding of the customer’s needs and pain points. Appointment setting allows sales representatives to build rapport, answer questions, and address concerns in real time, increasing the likelihood of securing a sale. 

The average ROI at Belkins across 25 industries is a $10 dollar return per $1 invested.

You want to connect with engaged clients

Before reaching out to potential customers that match your ICP, appointment setters examine their buying signals, like company news, tech stack, job changes, current struggles, etc. Connecting with customers who have demonstrated interest maximizes your chances of closing a sales deal.

You can also employ appointment setting for reengaging lost deals or prospects who never responded after the first touch with your company.

Combine appointment setting with marketing tactics, such as content marketing, custom ad campaigns, and social selling, to reach your target audience via different channels. This helps increase your brand credibility and drive more sales.

On the flip side, not all B2B companies need and benefit from cold outreach. Which ones are they? Let’s take a look.

What types of B2B companies should and shouldn’t adopt outbound appointment setting?

Your company is qualified to invest in appointment setting as a lead generation channel if it meets 3 main criteria:

  • Selling expensive products: The average cost per meeting floats between $500 and $800. Now think about your conversions and the average deal and calculate a rough ROI. If your check for a top-tier is $489, outbound lead generation is not a sensible investment.
  • Long sales cycles: We’ve noticed at Belkins that companies with B2B sales cycles of 3 to 6 months or longer usually benefit more from appointment setting.
  • Too many prospective decision-makers: Enterprise-level companies usually have a cumbersome decision-making process and are a great target for cold outreach.

On the other hand, B2B companies with a price tag under $500 are more likely to benefit from marketing automation, targeted webinars, and inbound lead generation strategies.

Now let’s explore what the appointment-setting process looks like.

The 6-step appointment-setting process

Boiled down, the appointment-setting process has 6 essential steps. We’ll explain each one in great detail so you can easily replicate this strategy.

Step 1: Research and qualification

Time frame: 1-2 weeks

The first step is the foundation of your cold outreach campaigns. Do it wrong, and all your effort will fall flat. 

That said, dedicate time to researching your target audience, segmentation, and verification of contacts. Build your ICP and map out buying signals to identify the best prospects. At Belkins, we often use LinkedIn Sales Navigator, ZoomInfo, and Apollo to find and validate prospects and enrich them with buying signals.

Find Buying Intent With Apollo

Once you create a list of decent prospects, you’re ready for the next step.

Step 2: Crafting and personalizing an outreach message 

Time frame: 1 week

At this stage, it’s all about crafting a compelling message that speaks directly to the prospects’ pain points and interests. Personalize your emails to the needs of individual prospects. Focus on the value proposition and deliver it in a clear, concise way. 

Highly personalized emails with custom variables hit a 17% reply rate on average, according to Woodpecker, against 7% for non-personalized.

Here are the best tips on cold email personalization:

  • Be specific and use the prospect’s name.
  • Keep the subject line at 3-5 words. Subject lines with numbers get 113% higher open rates.
  • Explain why you’re reaching out — tailor your message to the prospects’ pain points. Mention a recent article they wrote, a project they’re working on, or a challenge they’re facing.
  • Show the value you can bring to the prospect and their business.
  • Provide social proof.
  • Use personalized videos and landing pages to pique their interest and stand out.
  • Keep it short, preferably under 10 sentences.

Write 3 to 6 emails, including your first email and follow-ups. Here's one of our best-working intro messages we used to set up meetings for a green energy company that chose to outsource appointment setting to us:

Hey {{FirstName}},

I’m looking for the best person at {{Company}} to talk to about your energy data needs - would that be you or {{Referral_Name}}?

{{Sender’s_Company}} offers its users real-time and historical energy data in a user-friendly app and professional dashboard. See your solar production and electric, gas, and water consumption and discover the self-sufficiency rate.

Let me briefly describe the possibilities {{Company}} gets by using {{Sender’s_Company}}.


I would be glad to tell you more during a quick talk with you or {{Referral_Name}} and see whether our product can benefit {{Company}} - are you available next Thursday at 11 AM?

A cold email can look as simple as that and drive responses. Why? The key is in pitch relevance to the ICP.

Discover free cold email template libraries by Lemlist and Hunter to kindle your creativity.

Step 3: Outreach and follow-ups

Time frame: 4 weeks

Now it’s time to send out your cold emails and follow-ups. We recommend sending no more than 3-4 follow-ups — too many will lead to a low response rate and may be considered annoying and intrusive.

Follow-ups come in different formats. A simple sales follow up email like that can be your third step:  

“Hi Katie, any chance I’ll hear back from you? I know it’s my third email, and I don’t want to sell our services right off the bat. Nobody likes it, I get it. Though, I’d love to hear how you handle XYZ. Will appreciate your response. 

We’ve conducted research about X. The X part is quite fascinating. Here’s the link if you want to read more.”

Likewise, include personalized videos in follow-ups to add a human touch to email and forge an emotional bond. Share niche-relevant case studies, additional resources, or testimonials that may be of interest to the recipient. Mention any new developments or updates relevant to the prospect’s business.

Grab one of our examples:

Hi {{FirstName}},

Does {{Company}} want to experience a {{Service}} platform that allocates your capital efficiently and effectively manages budget spending on literature? 

One of our clients from the pharmacological sphere said we saved them $14,000 on literature expenses in the first year.

I would be glad to tell you more during a quick talk with you or {{Referral_Name}} and see if we can do the same for {{Company}} - are you available next Thursday at 11 AM?

Belkins tip: A killer cold-outreach strategy is to invite prospects to your webinar to surface common pain points and provide solutions or to discuss your recent research. This way, you’re killing two birds with one stone — showcasing your domain expertise, providing great free value, and establishing credibility.

You should also mix up your outreach channels to maximize your chances of appointment booking. Use email, LinkedIn, Twitter, and even cold calls to reach your prospects.

Belkins tip: If you receive no response, don’t lose hope. Become a free value provider and contact people from those companies once per month with industry insights, how you’ve refined process X, useful contacts, etc. Don’t pitch or sell; just be on their radar.

Step 4: Scheduling and confirmation

Time frame: 1-2 weeks

Once you receive a positive response and they agree to a meeting, it’s time to book an appointment with a sales rep.

Use automated solutions like Calendly or Chili Piper to schedule and confirm meetings with each prospect. It automatically calculates any time zone difference and suggests suitable time slots for both parties.

Make Booking Meetings Easier With Calendly

Also, send a meeting confirmation email with all the details, such as the call’s agenda and location or a Zoom/Google Meet link.

A no-show? Don’t worry. Send a few friendly follow-ups to remind them about the appointment and reschedule if needed. 

Belkins tip: Set up meeting auto-reminders for a few days before as well as a day before it’s scheduled to reduce the number of no-shows.

By following these steps, you’ll increase your response rate and optimize the appointment-setting process. 

Step 5: Connect and follow up

Time frame: 1-2 weeks

Use the meeting as an opportunity to connect afterward. Follow up with each potential client via email.

Highlight the most important points from the conversation, concerns, and objectives. Briefly recap how your team can help them meet their goals and keep prospects in the loop.

Belkins tip: If your call ended up being a lost deal, don’t hesitate to ask for referrals. Your contacts may know other people who could benefit from your services.

Step 6: Reporting and analysis

Time frame: 1 week 

Now that the appointment-setting process is complete, look back at your performance and analyze the results. Track the number of appointments booked, their outcomes, and the conversion rates and send out a report to management.

At Belkins, we collect the following metrics:

  • The number of leads researched
  • The number of prospects reached
  • The sales cycle length
  • The number of emails sent (complete with positive/negative response ratio)
  • The number of prospects engaged (complete with positive and negative responses)
  • The number of appointments scheduled for each month (or week)
  • The percentage of no-shows

When we launch A/B-test campaigns, we pull out and compare the data to determine winning tactics and the most responsive ICPs.

What does an appointment setter do?

Throughout this piece, we’ve mentioned SDRs and appointment setters as separate roles, but this is not always the case. So who are these people, and what differentiates them?

The main difference between the two is that an appointment setter focuses on generating leads, booking meetings, and confirming/rescheduling appointments. At the same time, a sales development representative is responsible for discovery calls, developing relationships, and qualifying leads.

This separation of roles is intrinsic to midsize companies, whereas in small businesses and startups, SDRs handle the appointment-setting process from start to finish.

In a nutshell, an appointment setter is in charge of:

  • Prospecting
  • Crafting personalized emails
  • Launching outreach campaigns
  • Sending high-quality marketing material for lead nurturing
  • Requesting LinkedIn connections
  • Prospects’ handover to SDRs
  • Managing the appointment-booking funnel

Should you outsource appointment setting?

It depends on your company’s needs and resources. Many third-party services offer appointment setting, but it’s crucial to consider the team’s cost and level of expertise before making a decision.

The best appointment setting companies can help you save time, improve response rates, and increase pipeline velocity. They also provide insights about the market, target accounts, and prospects’ industry trends.

Before taking on a project, we at Belkins closely analyze the market, the number of prospective clients, and potential conversions and match this data with the client’s expectations. This way, our clients rest assured of the results. Learn more about our appointment setting service and talk to our experts to discover if outbound lead generation is the right fit for you.

So it’s best to weigh the pros and cons before deciding whether to outsource or not.

The pros of outsourcing appointment setting:

  • Access to a wider pool of prospects and expertise
  • Cost-effective
  • Improved efficiency and productivity
  • Flexibility to handle demand fluctuation
  • Sales team able to focus on other core functions

The cons of outsourcing appointment setting:

  • Risk of misaligned goals with an outsourcing partner
  • Communication and coordination challenges
  • Potentially reduced quality of customer interactions
  • Possible loss of company culture and brand identity

That said, let’s discuss the benchmark for appointment-setting services.

Appointment-setting services cost

Essentially, the cost of setting appointments depends on the number of leads you want to reach monthly, the complexity of the niche, the number of sequences to test out, and the brand recognition of the service provider.

The price model comes in 2 options:

  • Pay per appointment — rare but great for companies with limited budgets.
  • Monthly retainer — widely used.

Our experience suggests at least a $5,000 monthly retainer. 

Final words 

To sum up, appointment setting is the process of scheduling and confirming meetings with prospects to explore potential collaborations and partnerships.

It’s a great way to generate outbound leads, build relationships, and increase pipeline velocity, but it can be time-consuming for those with little experience.

To optimize the process and get the most appointments out of cold outreach, consider outsourcing to a third-party service provider. Contact Belkins today to analyze your project and discover sales lead opportunities.

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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.