Top 12 Tips for Better Appointment Setting Calls in 2021

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Are you an appointment setter who makes cold calls? 

Then, you’re aware of the essential role sales engagement plays in the overall sales call process. 

The quality of your outreach is dependent upon your abilities and the tools you have to work with. And let’s not forget that today’s buyer is definitely harder to reach.

According to The Sales Development Technology Report, it now takes an average of 18 dials to connect with a buyer. 

Yes, you read that right. 

It now takes double the amount of tries to connect with a buyer than it used to. 

So, when you do finally get connected with the buyer, you need to be on your game. Here are some tips for a better appointment setting tactic when it comes to prospect calls.

1. Think Time Zone

Time is of the essence for every person working as an inside sales appointment setter. It’s also important to every prospect you contact, so you want to catch your target contacts at optimal times. Don’t cold call consumer prospects during dinner. 

Also, remember to think about that person’s time zone. If it’s dinner time where you are, it might be after 8 p.m. for your prospect. 

What’s worse than a sales call during dinner? 

A call when you are trying to relax or spend time with family. 

You don’t want to interrupt downtime or, worse, sleep. Instead, make sure you are calling at convenient times.

Sometimes you’ll have an idea of downtimes in an industry just by having worked in it. This is especially true in business-to-business (B2B) scenarios. 

If you don’t know the industry from first-hand experience, do your homework. 

Find out typical hours your target decision-makers will be in the office and call at those times in their time zones. When you are calling a business to set up a sales demo or consultation appointment, know when the business is open. 

You may think you’re making a quick afternoon call to an East Coast potential client from your West Coast perch, only to realize that the business is closed and you’re directed to voicemail. 

Don’t be that appointment setter. Do your research and plan ahead so that you are calling at convenient times whenever possible.

2. Ask Whether They Have Time to Talk 

Let’s not forget about business etiquette. 

The thing is that you’re practically barging in on your prospects and interrupt their work with your call. Needless to say, many of them will just roll their eyes and tell you that they’re busy without even trying to listen to what you have to say.

That’s why it’s not only polite but also necessary to ask them whether they have a couple of minutes to spare and talk to you. Such a considerate approach will not annoy them, which increases your chances of delivering your pitch. 

However, if they’re busy at the moment, ask them when it will be a more convenient time for you to call. The odds are that many people won’t be able to take your call then and there because you’re most likely reaching out to decision-makers who have almost every minute of their day scheduled. 

But, since you’ve been respectful of them, your prospects will be more willing to rearrange the initial call and tell you when you can call them. 

3. Do Your Research

82% of B2B decision-makers think sales reps are unprepared. – MarketingProfs

One of the most annoying habits an appointment setter can have is not preparing for a call. 

You need to understand your audience well enough to know what its members might appreciate or actually need. 

An effective appointment setter knows the product he or she is supporting and is able to anticipate the possible needs or concerns of the call recipient. 

Do your research. Know your product or service well. 

Learn about the industries your business serves. Anticipate hard questions and plan your answers ahead of time. Do a little research on the company you call if this is a B2B scenario. Check out a prospect’s social media profiles to gain insights into his or her personality and preferences. Know the mission and key goals of the companies where your prospects work. 

Also, ask questions and listen carefully to the answers provided by the prospects you are calling. 

The more you know, the better you will be able to anticipate the questions and needs of the individuals you are trying to set appointments with.

4. Express Interest in Service

36% of B2B executives believe that salespeople understand their business problems and offer clear solutions for them. – Forrester Research

appointment setter

A basic rule of appointment setting and inside sales is having empathy and interest in your prospect. 

Really try to understand the wants and needs of the person you contact. Don’t just act interested. People can spot disingenuous chatter. Try to be genuinely interested in the life or business of the person you are calling. 

This will make you a better appointment setter because you’ll be able to connect real-life human experiences and speak to situations that are troubling, challenging, or difficult for your potential client. 

The client always wants to know what really is in it for him or her at the end of the day. Work hard to earn their trust and clearly communicate the value proposition you are offering. 

People do business with people they like. Make it easy for them to say yes to an appointment.

5. Don’t Pressure Too Much

17% of salespeople think they’re pushy, while 50% of prospects view them as pushy. – Hubspot

Yes, you are an appointment setter, which means you are going to have to deploy some classic sales skills to help you set the appointment. 

That means you’re going to have to apply a little pressure. But you don’t have to apply too much. In fact, if you come on too strong, too quickly, the prospect may feel uncomfortable and annoyed and may write you off completely. 

Be courteous by asking if now is a good time to talk before you dive into your pitch. Take time to ask some questions that demonstrate your interest. Be consultative in your objection-busting instead of trying to bully the prospect into setting an appointment that he or she never intends to keep. 

Use persuasive language, customer stories, and facts versus pressure tactics to set the stage for a positive sales appointment.

6. Let Technology Move You

At the end of the day, one of the best ways to set great appointments is to have the latest technology. You want a solution with appointment setting software features that help you:

  • make time-zone appropriate calls
  • call the next-best lead based on qualification criteria
  • overcome objections with logical branch scripting that also keeps you on message
  • drop messages in voicemail while you proceed to the next call
  • increase dials per hour with progressive or preview dialing
  • follow up via email
  • nurture leads that aren’t ready for an appointment
  • set appointments based on geographic proximity based on a sales rep’s location
  • combine multiple calendars for effective team selling
  • make setting appointments more seamless by automatically setting appointments on calendars in the next free time slot
  • send email notifications about the appointments that have been set

Appointment setting software can help you be more efficient in your B2B and B2C calls, so make sure you are taking advantage of it.

7. Share Social Proof

88% of customers trust user reviews as much as personal recommendations. – HubSpot

Don’t expect people to be immediately interested in what you have to offer when they hear from you for the first time. 

This means they won’t be exactly enthusiastic about agreeing to meet you, which is normal given that there are so many pushy salespeople whose primary goal is to sell regardless of whether their product is the right fit for the people they call.

But, if you want them to give you the benefit of the doubt, it’s a good idea to leverage name-dropping and mention a couple of high-profile clients with whom you had a successful business relationship. 

In case you still haven’t had a chance to work with some popular brands or well-known personalities from the industry, you can still attract the attention of your prospects and intrigue them by sharing examples of how your solution helped people and companies in similar situations. 

Social proof is one of the most powerful marketing tools as it’s very effective when it comes to persuading your potential customers that they can greatly benefit from using your product or service. 

You can, for example, refer your prospects to a review website or a landing page where they can read what happy customers say about your solution. Mention this during the call and send them the links to these resources.

Case studies and customer testimonials that give a detailed account of what problems a particular company or person faced, how your solution helped them, and the results they achieved will make your potential customer more confident that what you offer is the right choice for them. 

8. Find the Right Prospects and Level-Up Your Reachout 

Don’t quote me on this, but I bet you’ll have more chances of setting appointments with prospects who have already interacted with your company in the past.  

That’s where marketing and sales come together. 

To call the leads that are closer to being qualified, RAIN Group’s Bob Croston recommends working with marketing and following up on certain metrics: 

  • Website downloads: Do you offer white papers, webinars, or case studies? The prospects downloading this content are the people you want to follow up with.
  • Website visitors: If you’re not getting notified when prospects visit your website, add that to your to-do list. Knowing when they think about you is a huge game-changer. Plus, you can even leverage these notifications to reconnect with prospects you’ve already spoken with. 
  • Event attendees: Nab the full attendee list of any events or webinars that your company sponsors or participates in. 

Obviously, there’s more to appointment setting than cold calling — but you gotta do a heck of a lot of it to get through, and not just through the phone. 

Welcome to the 21st century.

Having a leg up on which prospects are interested before you call is a bonus, but that doesn’t get you out of this next mandatory step of the appointment setting process: reaching out through multiple channels. 

If you’re not leaving voicemails, writing emails, connecting on social media, and sending carrier pigeons or smoke signals, good luck breaking through the noise! 

Your prospect is probably receiving someone else’s meeting request as we speak. 

 9. Build Trust With Your Prospects

cold calls

Why can you trust a calculator? Because it’s something you can count on. *Badum tss*

Channel your inner calculator, people. Your prospects aren’t going to hand over their time — much less their money — if they don’t trust what you’re saying or selling. Why should they? 

On your next appointment setting call, try building trust with these two strategies. 

Be a human and build rapport

If your prospect wanted to talk to a robot, they’d call Mr. Big Name seller to get their order wrapped up without any hassle. 

But nobody wants that — they want you.  So you can ask about the dog you hear barking in the background or the toddler singing along to Frozen 2. Hear some piano-playing? 

Heck, ask about that, too!

Rapport is the foundation that supports your interaction with prospects. If you want to be more effective in appointment setting, you have to know how to build rapport,” explains Belinda Summers.

You only have a few seconds to capture the attention of a cold lead, so help your prospect loosen up by making the call all about them. Ask the right questions, and more importantly, be empathetic. 

Believe it or not, the goal is not to sell

Contradictory, right? 

Not as much as you think. 

Appointment setting calls are meant to entice a prospect enough to get a face-to-face meeting — AKA, your goal is to set an appointment, not to sell them something

Look, I get it. 

As sales folks, we naturally want to sell the minute we’ve hooked a potential buyer. But remember, as we’ve already said above: No one wants to be pressured into buying something.

Instead, call with a genuine desire to help, and let the rest flow naturally. 

10. Be Prepared to Handle Objections 

You’re not making appointment-setting calls without doing research, are you? (Are you? 👀) 

When you know your stuff and your customers, you know how to best position your value. But, bear in mind that even qualified prospects that are a perfect fit for your solution have objections too. 

That’s why you need to understand objections and learn how to handle them, so that you can present the situation in a favorable perspective and explain to your prospect why your product or service is one of a kind. 

These simple tips will help you overcome objections:

  • Research your marketplace
  • Align your prospecting efforts with the solutions your company provides
  • Develop an exact profile of the audience you’re targeting

11. Script It Out Whenever in Doubt

Before you ask — yes, you can sound like a human and use a script

Even if you’re the master at winging it, you need to perfect the script you use to pitch to leads. 

Keep in mind that a good script:

  • Has a branded introduction 
  • Identifies who you are and the company you represent
  • Sounds natural and unrehearsed

If your pitch ain’t up to par, your lead will be out of there before you can even think about setting an appointment. 

12. Be Specific! 

Now that you’ve built just enough interest and curiosity to make the prospect want to continue the conversation ask for a follow-up meeting — but don’t be vague. 

Say, “How does October 7 at 10 a.m. work for you?” instead of, “Would you like to meet about this?” 

See the difference? 

One is serious and ready to commit, and the other just wants to text you at weird hours until you both move on.

And don’t forget to wrap things up. 

Send your lead a confirmation email message that includes a brief recap of the call and when you’re scheduled to meet next. 

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