B2B marketers spend considerable time and budget uncovering, developing, and qualifying leads for sales follow-up. However too often marketing qualified leads (MQLs) are passed to sales only to be closed several weeks later as “could not reach” or “unresponsive.” Sound familiar? Getting a qualified buyer back on the phone can be a difficult task for a sales rep. To alleviate this issue, appointment setting services are gaining more popularity. However, if not implemented with a clear process and backed by proven best practices, appointments may cause more frustration than help.
Through years of experience and some honest trial and error, TeleNet has created a customizable approach for appointment setting. As a result, we are yielding significantly higher sales acceptance rates and lead-to-opportunity conversion rates, building a more robust pipeline, and creating higher returns on investment for our clients.
Dos and Don’ts
If you are considering adding an appointment setting strategy or if your process needs refinement to boost results, consider our list of dos and don’ts.
When planning your appointment setting campaign
- Get buy-in from your sales team on how the appointment setting process will work and make sure to communicate the details directly to the recipients of the appointments.
- Work with sales management to jointly define the criteria for MQLs worthy of a sales appointment.
- Define the communication process for territory and/or rep coverage changes ensuring appointments are always scheduled with the correct parties.
- Set the process only with management and assume everyone will be on board.
- Use a loose MQL definition (i.e., foot in door) without sales buy-in.
Tips for your appointment timeframes
- Schedule appointments within a specific window of time, ideally within the next 5-10 business days.
- Lead development representatives (LDRs) should nurture leads that will not be ready for an appointment within your defined appointment window.
- Schedule appointments too far out. Your prospect is more likely to no-show or forget the reason for the appointment.
Agendas and lead notes are important tools when leveraged properly
- Set expectations for the appointment with the prospect, including a clear agenda documented within the meeting invitation.
- Separately provide a summary of MQL (need, timeframe, budget, etc.) to the sales representative ahead of the meeting. Specify any technical questions or expectations allowing the sales representative to prepare effectively.
- Send a meeting invitation without documenting an agenda.
- Include the MQL summary (lead notes) within the meeting notice or refer to your prospect as a “lead” in any communication they will see.
Optimize appointment acceptance rates
- Proactively track the meeting invitation has been accepted by both the sales representative and the prospect.
- Follow-up if the meeting invitation is not accepted within 1-2 days.
- Leave a reminder voicemail message for your prospect the day prior to the appointment.
- Alert the sales rep in advance if the prospect has still not accepted the invitation; however, be prepared for the meeting to occur as planned.
- Assume lack of acceptance means the prospect will not show for the appointment. Often a contact will not accept electronically, however, will join the appointment.
Communication guidelines to help ensure success
- Ensure a clear understanding and documented process of who (the LDR or sales rep) will handle reschedules and follow-up with any no-show appointments.
- Have the LDR join the appointment for a warm handoff, which will also immediately alert the LDR if a prospect does not join a meeting. An added benefit is the on-the-job training your LDRs will receive, leading to more highly qualified appointments.
- Assume the “other guy” will follow up.
- Assume a no-show signals a lack of interest as last-minute conflicts legitimately occur, so be open to rescheduling.
Measure the results of your appointment setting campaign!
- Set a goal for success and closely track results, next steps, opportunity conversion and pipeline value.
- Regularly ask the sales team for both quantifiable and anecdotal feedback, adjusting the process and/or qualification criteria accordingly. This may be accomplished utilizing an electronic survey tool.
- Set success criteria without considering your sales process or target market.
- Rely on a “no news is good news” approach to feedback.
Success criteria for appointment setting
There is not a universal measurement of success for appointment setting as your unique sales process must be taken into consideration (i.e., the steps required to advance an MQL to an opportunity), as well as your target market (i.e., cardiologists will have a higher reschedule rate than a mid-level IT manager). Thus, our advice is to initially focus on improving your historical metrics, and then raise the bar as results dictate.
Here are four real-world examples of the improvements TeleNet clients have seen utilizing our best practices…
- Increased the percentage of appointments that occurred from 19% to 86%
- Improved the percentage of appointments resulting in an opportunity or a follow-up meeting from 71% to 92%
- Spiked the sales acceptance rate for MQLs from 57% to 88%
- More than doubled the lead-to-opportunity conversion rate from 17% to 41%, increasing pipeline by $4.9 million.
While success criteria may be different, the common result is significantly improved metrics.
If you would like to offload appointment setting to a proven marketing partner, schedule a discovery session with TeleNet today. Think you might benefit from a team of appointment setters? Learn more…