Appointment Setting for B2B Sales Teams

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Does your B2B Sales Team need help generating leads?

There are many different types of B2B Sales teams. Direct Sales, Field Sales, Territory Sales, Indirect Sales, Channel Sales, Solution Sales, National Accounts, Global Accounts, etc. Most sales organizations create segments based on a few distinguishing client characteristics that delineate customer types so that sales teams can be organized, trained, and managed to pursue a particular market segment based on a similar set of customer attributes.

One thing B2B sales team types have in common is that they all sell Business-to-Business or, depending on the organization’s size, Enterprise-to-Enterprise (E2E). They engage corporate customers directly and are skilled at working through a complex sales process rather than a B2C sales team focused on selling to an individual consumer.

B2B Salespeople

Not all B2B salespeople are created equal. Some are naturally gifted at generating leads (i.e., “rock turners”) but need help advancing or closing deals, while others are naturally-gifted “closers” but need help generating leads. Some salespeople prefer to manage customer accounts (i.e., “farmers”) rather than turn rocks or close deals.

These different types of sales personnel tendencies are quite common. In an ideal world, you’d have a balanced team of hunters, farmers, and closers that align precisely with your business needs. Today’s sales organizations are multi-dimensional, multi-location, and multi-generational, with many different characteristics – including varying levels of industry experience, educational backgrounds, training, personalities, priorities, etc. As such, it’s often challenging to align and balance a sales team’s skills and preferences with organizational needs.

Suppose you’re running a B2B sales organization consisting primarily of experienced salespeople. They have proven to be excellent closers but do poorly in developing new customer opportunities (i.e., lead-gen or “turning rocks”). In this case, hiring a third-party appointment-setting organization may make sense to help your closers become more efficient by generating, qualifying, and developing actionable leads.

This approach is a variation of the traditional “Fronter-Closer” sales model. Rather than trying to recruit, hire, train, and develop this lead-gen capability in-house (or worse yet, attempt to retrain your “closers” to be “hunters”), you could hire an external firm specializing in Appointment Setting to generate and qualify leads for your closers. As most SMB businesses have learned, it’s often quicker and more efficient to “Hire than Build” this capability in-house. I’ve used this approach in the past with great success.

Before you decide to implement this approach, I wanted to share with you a few tips and some of the lessons I learned along the way:

  • Vendor Selection
    • Experience. Make sure the vendor you’re considering has B2B appointment-setting experience rather than B2C experience. Don’t worry about the vendor having specific industry experience. Experienced B2B appointment-setting vendors will adapt to your B2B campaign’s needs.
    • Low Employee Turnover. Look for low turnover on the attack teams. High turnover is a red flag as it takes valuable time to replace a productive appointment setter.
    • Training. Make sure you understand how your team will be established and managed. Ask the vendor to explain their processes for recruiting, onboarding, training, ramp-up, handling violations, retraining, reassignment, etc.
    • Price. Many different pricing models are available, depending on the program’s goals. The cheapest solution is not always the best fit for your needs.
  • Vendor Capabilities & Structure
    • Management Team. Know who you’re dealing with and ask for references.
    • Organizational Structure. Learn how the vendor is structured and how to escalate a client issue if necessary.
    • Resources. Where are their resources located? How long does it take to launch?
    • Lead Lists. Clarify who provides the lead lists. How much do they cost?
    • Scripts. Clarify who provides the call scripts and the process for making changes.
    • Sales Process. Understand how they nurture each prospect and the cadence between customer interactions. Request a flow chart of the typical sequence of events, including phone calls, emails, follow-up calls, voicemails, newsletters, blogs, whitepapers, etc.
    • Call Recordings. Who audits calls for compliance? Where are recordings kept?
    • QA Reporting. Ask for sample QA reports, exception logs, templates, etc.
  • Vendor Relationship
    • Relationship Type. Understand the difference between contracted, outsourced, and offshored.
    • Partnership Approach. Both parties must be willing to invest in developing a solid working relationship that can create and continually improve the reporting, processes, and tools needed to be successful. Often this takes at least one year, so be prepared to invest and don’t expect instant results.
    • Get to know the Appointment Setters. Know the names and experience levels of each member of the group of experts developing qualified leads for your team.
    • Part of the Team. Treat them as members of your sales organization. If possible, include them in sales contests, campaigns, etc.
  • Appointment Setters: Special Requests
    • “The Producer.” Request a minimum of one experienced sales “producer” to be assigned to your appointment-setting team. Ideally, you want an entire group of top-producing “A-Players” assigned to your account, but that’s nearly impossible with most vendors because the industry has notoriously high turnover, low pay, difficult working conditions, etc. Start with one producer, and as that one becomes successful on your account, producers on other teams will want to transfer to your team.
    • Notification of Team Changes. Insist that the sales team leader notify the client of any personnel turnover or changes to the assigned appointment-setting team.
    • Surprise Visit. Fly to the vendor’s location unannounced 2-3 months post-launch. Just show up to see how they are doing. Bring swag. Introduce yourself and get to know the team calling on your behalf. Have lunch delivered, or take them out for dinner. Ask how things are going and what they need from you, and then deliver on their requests. Sometimes they may require changes to the script, a second case study, updated product brochures, or a new email template they can quickly send to highlight your key differentiators. Whatever it is, follow up asap to get them what they need, and keep the door open for more feedback.

B2B Appointment Setting Program – Leverage Your Investment

Most sales leaders understand that the direct sales model is one of the best ways to close B2B business because customer-facing meetings are usually very effective if done correctly. Unfortunately, these face-to-face meetings also consume time, money, and resources. Layering the cost of a B2B Appointment Setting program on top of the existing cost of a B2B Sales team can add up quickly.

One way to lower your average investment per Appointment is to leverage each confirmed customer appointment into 2-3 additional leads. How do you do that?

Start by launching the B2B Appointment Setting program as an opt-in for your Sales Team. Explain the program’s intent, duration, distribution mode (round-robin, zip code, etc.), notification mechanics (email, Calendar invitations, etc.), and the sales rep’s participation requirements, which are simple:

  • The lead associated with the Appointment must be entered in CRM and kept updated.
  • Before or after the Appointment, the sales rep must make a minimum of two cold calls to neighboring businesses in an attempt to gain an additional meeting or two. Both companies are entered into the CRM referencing the initial client meeting.
  • If both of these requirements are not met, the Sales Rep can be dropped from participating in the Appointment Setting program, and all future leads will be redistributed to other sales reps.

This approach has multiple benefits:

  • It acts as a lead multiplier.
  • It leverages limited resources.
  • It expands the sales pipeline. Every dispatched sales meeting is converted into additional lead gen activity for your B2B Sales Team, which lowers your average cost per meeting while expanding your sales pipeline.
  • Uses neighborly familiarity as a door opener – “Hi, I was just talking with your neighbor about “X,” and since I’m in the neighborhood, I thought I’d introduce myself and ask to talk to your VP of Operations about this popular program.”
  • Potential Sales Contest. It can be used as the basis of a sales contest that improves activity levels while driving results. It can be a fun source of friendly competition around most appointments, causing even more activity.

This month, I’ve posted three valuable resources on StrategicElevation.com focused on researching, identifying, selecting, and managing your B2B Appointment Setting Program to elevate your B2B Sales team(s). These resources provide valuable tips on launching your own B2B Appointment Setting program.

Working with a Sales Performance Advisor can help sales leaders make the best choices for your organization. If you’re interested in launching your own B2B Appointment Setting program, contact Strategic Elevation to get on the fast track to sales growth.

 

Posted DECEMBER 15, 2022

Strategic Elevation is a sales performance consulting firm powered by Sales Xceleration. For over 20 years, Strategic Elevation has helped some of the most innovative and creative businesses accelerate sales performance by improving their sales organization, infrastructure, and processes. To learn more, visit Strategic Elevation.com.

 

Updated: January 26th, 2023

About The Author

Mike Lindert

Call Me When… CEO ADVISOR & FRACTIONAL CSO, PROVIDING SALES SOLUTIONS FOR B2B BUSINESSES. Top Line Revenue Growth, Sales Strategy, Sales Structure, Sales Assessments, Sales Staffing, Resource Optimization, On-Site Sales Leadership.