What is B2B Appointment Setting?
B2B appointment setting is a core sales growth activity that concerns sales agents reaching to prospects via cold calling, email marketing, or SMS marketing and following up with leads to set appointments with a closing sales rep.
In the B2B lead generation program, the importance of appointment setting cannot be stressed. Setting qualified appointments for sales reps can free up their time so they can put all their efforts and energy into closing prospects ready to buy without having to worry about chasing cold leads.
Many companies prefer to outsource the appointment setting function to deter the cost and effort of filling this role internally.
What Does an Appointment Setter Do?
An appointment setter is a person who introduces the products to the prospect, contacts sales lead to schedule sales appointments and product demos. Appointment setters are primarily tasked with reaching out to cold prospects by email marketing, SMS marketing, and cold calling. These leads are constantly followed up upon until they are either converted to a sale or marked off as a dead lead. Once contact is made, these prospects are qualified according to the specifications of the sales rep.
What is a Sales Development Representative?
A Sales Development Representative (SDR) is an Inside Sales position; that means that he/she does not go out to meetings. He/she (SDR) actually playing the role of an appointment setter, who does not have any sales objectives. Their primary objective is to qualify leads to push them forward in the sales pipeline so the closing reps can convert them into a sale with ease.
Sales Development Rep’s Skills
What skills are needed for an appointment setter? To become a successful SDR the following skills are mandatory:
- Impeccable presentation
- Great listening and adaptation skills
- Proactiveness and perseverance at all times
- Find the right point of contact for a prospect
- Tackle objections with an understanding of the prospect’s requirements and how your solution can bring forth benefit to them
- Make use of discovery questions to better understand the prospect’s industry
- Navigate Salesforce or the chosen CRM
- Maintain high levels of call volumes
When does a company need B2B Appointment setting?
One cannot have a one-size-fits-all approach to B2B appointment setting. It is especially apparent if your business matches the following two criteria’s:
1. Selling expensive B2B products
B2B sales can be tricky, to say the least, and is more so when you are dealing with high ticket products or services. A purchase decision likely will involve multiple stakeholders who will have to be won over at different touchpoints throughout the marketing process. As such, the sale process requires these decision-makers to be identified, reached out to, and followed up upon until a purchase decision has been reached. The stakeholders involved in a single purchase decision might not always be won over by the same sales pitch. For instance, imagine you’re selling cars to a ride-sharing company. The accounts department might be interested in knowing how the car depreciates while the marketing department might be more interested to know how the car might boost the company image.
2. Long sales cycles
A high-involvement B2B purchase will naturally result in a longer sales cycle. Freeing up sales reps’ time by delegating the task of cold outreach to an appointment setting team, they can become more effective at closing sales, as they are now only dealing with qualified prospects already thinking of making a purchase. This considerably shortens your sales cycle and thus improves revenue.
Should you outsource the appointment setting?
Outsourcing B2B appointment setting is more often than not a no-brainer. Since the job of an appointment setter largely involves the ‘phone’, it does not require on-premise attendance and can be conducted virtually. Moreover, you can save up on the expenses of recruiting and training an internal team and making sure they are reaching the optimal KPIs. Some of the ways you can save money by outsourcing are as follows:
- Avoiding costs of recruiting and training up new SDRs
- Averting costs of acquiring hardware and software licenses
- Saving up on employee benefits
- Other miscellaneous overhead
B2B Appointment Setting Services Cost
Appointment setting services can usually go one of two ways. It’s either a pay per appointment basis or through a monthly or annual contract.
The cost per appointment depends largely on the industry you are serving. Though usually, they tend to be anywhere between $50 all the way up to $500 per appointment. For high ticket products, you can expect to pay even more depending on how sale-ready an appointment is. On the other hand, you can also pay as low as $10 per lead although as you might expect, the quality of the appointment would be questionable.
Building a Sales Development Team
Among the duties of an appointment setting team, hitting the target KPI is among the most important. Other duties might include quality assurance of the leads procured, although one might consider employing a separate QA division for this task. As such, an SDR team requires leadership to set strategic goals and strong management to layout tactics and oversee its operations.
A fully Functional SDR Team Comprises of:
Director: Sets and directs high-level strategy and makes certain the team is contributing to a profitable pipeline growth
Manager: Supervises day-to-day operations and lays out a tactical plan
Sales development rep (SDR): Cold outreach, qualifies prospects, and sets appointments for the sales team
SDR Team Structure
You might be wondering if there is a perfect ratio of SDRs to sales reps. The answer depends on a variety of factors. For instance, the industry in which you operate, the ratio of appointments that are converted to a sale, and the average selling price of your offering.
• 1 to 5 SDRs per Sales Rep – Having 1 or 5 SDR to assist 1 Sales Rep is a good starting point for companies where the sales rep has to travel far and wide to visit the location of the appointments and thus spends a large chunk of their time on the road. The SDRs make up for the sales rep’s lost time on the road by getting leads from cold outreach, making sure appointments are aligned with the driving route and properly scrutinizing leads to make sure no one’s time is wasted.
• 5+ SDRs per Sales Rep – Employing multiple SDRs per Sales Rep can make sense if your pipeline takes time to build, the sales cycle is longer and the average selling price per deal is high.
Inbound vs. Outbound SDR
An inbound SDR is tasked with handing inbound customer queries through the phone, email, or social media. By contrast, an outbound SDR initiates the first contact through cold outreach via phone, email, or social media. Although some companies might choose to employ an inbound and outbound division, more often than not, it’s a good idea to have an all-bound SDR team responsible for inbound and outbound leads.
Should SDRs Report to sales or marketing?
A study (https://lanefour.com/2019/12/09/should-sdrs-report-to-marketing/) shows 65% of SDR teams report to sales marketing leadership but only if it’s an inbound-only team. In smaller companies, it might make more sense for the appointment setting team to report directly to the CEO.
However, for the most part, SDR teams, both inbound and outbound report to sales.
Some companies group their inbound and outbound teams separately to have one team report to sales and the other to marketing. This way of doing things can often be too confusing to have many upsides. This difference in reporting can foster miscommunication between teams, cause confusion for sales reps, and can be a deterrent to revenue-generating activity.
The benefits of B2B Appointment Setting Summarized
B2B appointment setting helps companies grow their sales pipeline in numerous ways:
- It makes sure leads are properly identified, followed up upon and nurtured until closed
- SDRs maintain real-time database of target accounts and align appointments with calendars of Sales Reps
- Shortens sales cycle, especially for large deals with high-involvement purchase process
- Keeps Sales Reps focus on prospects who are ready to convert