At Superhuman Prospecting, we have over 40 Client SDRs calling in over 35 industries at any given time, equaling around 500,000+ cold calls a year. So, we know a thing or two about setting high-quality sales appointments.
Previously we’ve discussed the traits of the best cold caller and what it means to be considered a “top performer” in the sales industry. Although those traits are important for cold calling, there’s more to setting appointments than having resilience and conviction.
If you’re looking to increase your sales appointments through cold calling, you need a proven framework for moving through your conversation and getting prospects to the next steps.
Appointment Setting 101
Increasing your appointment setting conversion rates doesn’t have to be complicated. You just have to know your starting point and have a goal for improvement. But first, a quick recap on Appointment Setting 101.
What Is Cold Call Appointment Setting?
It’s a telephone call soliciting a business, made directly to a potential customer without prior contact, with the purpose of setting up a sales appointment between the company calling and the potential customer at a later date.
Why Is Cold Call Appointment Setting Used?
It’s used because businesses need a way to concretely identify the next steps in the sales process to encourage potential customers to move closer to a sale. It is also a mechanism for measuring the success of a sales development rep’s efforts when cold calling.
How Is Cold Call Appointment Setting Done?
Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) are typically responsible for making all outbound sales calls to companies. In these calls, the SDR introduces their offering with the goal of setting a sales appointment with the prospect for a later date. For best results, SDRs should follow a standardized process or script, so results can be measured and improved.
As the set date gets closer, either an SDR or an Inside Sales Representative works to confirm the date and time, rescheduling if necessary. This team can be in-house or it can be outsourced to a third-party company.
What Are The Benefits Of Cold Call Appointment Setting?
Through cold calling, your SDRs are able to have one-on-one conversations that can help your company learn more about your target audiences, their wants, needs, and the specific business challenges they face.
This can lead your company to more sales opportunities, improved lead quality, and better data that can be used to make more informed business decisions.
Tips For Increasing Your Appointment Setting Results
One of our favorite sayings is, “What isn’t measured, cannot be improved.” Top SDRs and Appointment Setters know you need a solid foundation for setting high-quality sales appointments. A properly defined starting point is key to success as you make calls, and set appointments.
Whether you’re a small business using a spreadsheet or a large sales team using a CRM, it is important to be tracking your cold calling activities and looking for opportunities to make improvements.
1. Focus On Consistent Improvement
Facing rejection? Don’t run from it, learn from it. Implementing the right processes and framework around your goals is important.
What is your current appointment setting rate? How many times do you call each prospect?
You can use call tracking data to see where you currently stand and even look at past historical and trending data to see if any recent changes you may have implemented or seasonality have made a difference in your conversion rate, either positively or negatively.
You can also use call tracking data to see how many appointments you don’t set. Set up missed opportunity alerts with your call tracking provider to be in the know shortly after a missed opportunity occurs so that you can rectify the situation. This can also help you follow up with your prospects in a timely manner, without overwhelming or bothering them.
Be honest about your appointment setting results and the current conversations you are having. If you don’t have the time or resources to properly dedicate to managing your cold calling results, outsourcing your appointment setting may be a better option for your company.
2. Cold Call With Clean And Compliant Data
You can’t set appointments with people you can’t reach. Studies show that B2B contacts go bad at a rate of between 24 and 36% per year due to company changes, new roles, new numbers, and everything in between. It’s important to make sure your prospecting list comes from a respected source for correct, up-to-date information.
Another huge issue – is compliance. If you’re making outbound calls to consumers within the United States, you must pay attention to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, or (TPCA) and the Do Not Call (DNC) lists.
Building clean and compliant lists on your own can be difficult, but there are plenty of databases, platforms, and tools that can help provide more effective targets. List building software like LinkedIn or Hubspot can help you actively look up and compare prospects while finding out more about them and their company.
Other tools, such as a variety of chrome extensions, can help you collect historical data or contacts from previous campaigns, or directly from your website and social media platforms.
If you are looking to build a more specific B2B contact list, or harder to find professionals, you may need to think about hiring or outsourcing your list to expert, manual researchers. Human verified data will always give you the best result.
For more on Outbound Call Center Compliance
3. Evaluate Your Target Audience
If you’re trying to increase your sales appointments but your potential prospects just don’t seem to be interested, your target audience might be a little off, which acts as a domino effect through the rest of your process. If you aren’t attracting the most valuable leads, then your messaging won’t resonate as well, and your prospects won’t want to waste their time setting an appointment.
To increase appointments, you need to understand their unique attributes and speak directly to the challenges they face. You should be re-evaluating your target audience at least once a year or after any major shifts in the market, your offering, or overall positioning in your industry that may change your targeting or messaging.
To properly reevaluate your target audience:
A. Make a list of your best current and past customers:
- Use available online data or schedule an interview, if possible,
- Conduct a survey of a few questions to learn more
- Look for any patterns or attributes they share
B. Look at their company size, niche, and industry:
- What makes them different?
- What do they have in common?
- Are they high-ticket or low-ticket customers?
- What are the root causes of their pain points?
- What tools, products, or services are they currently using?
C. How long have they been in business?
- Note their growth rates
- What are some challenges they face?
- Mark these as areas of opportunity – prioritize the challenges by which ones would help your business the most
- What offerings may help these challenges specifically?
If you see two or more common patterns for these questions, it may be necessary to create more than one ICP for your business.
4. Refine Your Cold Calling Script
A well-written sales script is a valuable tool that can help guide the right language, information, and structure needed to have the best conversation possible.
Having this framework gives you the ability to measure results and create a standard that can help you improve your cold calling techniques and messaging.
Consistently refining your sales script allows you to consistently analyze your messaging to determine what works and what you need to change. It is always a continuous process of testing and figuring out new ways to connect and interact with your prospects.
For example, proper word choice is very important when forming a script. You must make sure you are choosing language that sparks interest and leads your prospect down the desired path and in the right frame of mind to listen to your message.
Make sure your language should directly correspond to your goal and target audience. And always be sure to focus on immediate learning, NOT immediate sales.
Another expert tip: Follow your cold calling scripts more like an actor, NOT like a robot. Be sure to practice active listening and giving your prospects time to respond.
5. Reach More Decision-Makers
82% of B2B decision-makers think sales reps are unprepared. – MarketingProfs
Gatekeepers are our friends, not the enemy. Being able to navigate conversations with gatekeepers and understand phone trees is important when looking to increase appointment setting results.
You cannot be rude or dismissive of receptionists and you definitely shouldn’t lie to them. This never goes well and when you do get put through to the decision-maker, they will already have a negative impression of both the advisor and the company that they represent.
We’ve also seen scenarios where the appointment setter tries to pitch the receptionist. This doesn’t tend to work well because it relies on the receptionist to properly pass your message to the decision-maker. Instead, you should be trying to build rapport with the gatekeeper and use statement questions to gain agreement and direction.