What is Appointment Setting Over the Phone?

Appointment setting over the phone is a strategy for filling the sales pipeline with qualified leads. This is done by appointment setting representatives, often called sales development representatives (SDRs). 

Appointment setting processes vary from one company to another. The general idea is that appointment setting representatives (also known as SDRs) reach out to a list of prospects to generate interest and set a meeting with interested buyers.

Prospect lists can be generated from the company’s internal lead generation efforts or purchased from a vendor. These prospects are most often cold leads, which means they haven’t had any previous interaction with your company.

The first job of appointment setting reps or SDRs is to determine whether the prospect is a qualified lead or not. They do this by comparing their information with the company’s buyer persona. If prospects fit, SDRs will encourage them to book a sales appointment and pass them to the account executives (AEs), who will work on closing the deal. 

The benefits of booking sales appointments over the phone include:

Increase Efficiency for Account Executives

Prospecting and qualifying leads is a time-consuming process. Countless hours go into gathering the necessary data to call each lead and see whether they fit the company’s buyer persona. Working both ends of the pipeline can overwhelm account executives, affecting their ability to close deals. By having a dedicated appointment setting representative, AEs can focus more on converting leads into customers. 

Improve Lead Quality

High-quality leads are more likely to be converted into paying customers. One way of achieving this is through lead qualification, which is the process of filtering good leads from bad ones. 

Boost Brand Authority

Appointment setting can boost brand authority because sales discovery calls are opportunities to showcase your brand’s professionalism to potential customers. It is also a chance to gain their trust and confidence by displaying expert knowledge about the industry and your company’s products.

How to Set Sales Appointments Over the Phone?

If you decide to keep your appointment setting program in-house, you need to set your own process depending on your goals. These are the general steps on how to set sales appointments over the phone:

Step #1: Collect Information About Your Prospects

Your SDRs must invest time in prospect research before calling the lead. Lead research is the process of gathering essential information about the prospect to support outreach. Examples include:

  • Phone number
  • Email
  • Job title
  • Location
  • Industry

Step #2: Outline a Message

Your SDRs must outline the benefits of the products and services they represent. To do so, they must be familiar with the company’s sales playbook and value proposition. 

Step #3: Warm-Up

Jumping into a call without a good foundation could be awkward, or even disastrous. This is why it’s highly recommended your SDRs practice their pitch before reaching out.They can warm up the lead using different channels like emails or reaching out to them through social media platforms.  

Step #4: Make the Call

After making all the necessary preparations, it’s time to make the call. During the call, appointment setting representatives must quickly generate interest and close the appointment. This is where their previous practice plays to their advantage.

How to Set More Appointments in Sales Over the Phone

Booking sales appointments is a numbers game. The more sales calls you make, the more chances you have to book appointments that are essential to growing your company’s revenue. 

Here are some tips on how to book more sales appointments over the phone: 

Personalize Your Sales Calls

Appointment setting reps usually use scripts when making sales calls. The problem is that scripts can come off as ‘robotic.’ This defeats the purpose of appointment setting, which is to create a human connection with the leads.

According to this survey, 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from companies that offer a personalized experience. The best way to personalize a call is to understand the lead. You can do this by:

  • Looking at their public profiles 
  • Researching them on search engines
  • Browsing their company website 

Personalizing your calls will make the leads feel that the SDRs took time to understand who they are and to get to know their pain points. This is a great start for building a rapport, increasing the likelihood of leads agreeing to schedule an appointment. 

Use Simple Language 

Your SDRs must show that they have excellent knowledge about the products and services they represent, but that doesn’t mean that they should use complicated words. Remember, one of the goals of appointment setting over the phone is to build rapport with the lead, and using words they cannot understand will not help achieve this. 

Offer Options

During your SDR’s call with a lead, it’s highly recommended that they offer options for their convenience. For example, instead of asking “Are you available for a meeting on Tuesday at 8 am?”, it would be more effective to ask the lead “Would prefer the meeting to be scheduled on Monday at 8 am or on Tuesday at 1 pm?”

Avoid Using Yes or No Questions 

Appointment setting calls are conversations, not interviews, so it’s important to avoid close-ended questions.  Open-ended questions encourage the leads to give free-form answers, allowing the conversation to be natural and informative. 

Here’s a quick comparison of close-ended and open-ended questions:

Close-ended QuestionsOpen-ended Questions
Are you satisfied with the experience?How satisfied are you with the experience? 
Do you think this will be beneficial for your company?How would this benefit your company?
Does this work for you? What do you think about this?
Is it easy to navigate?What did you find annoying or confusing? 

Follow Up

Another way of booking more sales appointments over the phone is following up on missed appointments. Leads who have previously booked an appointment and missed it have already shown great interest. There’s a high chance that most of these leads would be interested in rebooking if you connect with them again. 

In the video below, SalesRoads’ president, David Kreiger, talks about the importance of following up with missed appointments to maximize the results from your appointment setting campaign.

In-house Appointment Setting vs. Outsourced Appointment Setting

Benefits of in-house appointment settingBenefits of outsourced appointment setting
Total controlAffordable cost
Fits with internal processesShort program set-up period
Recruit SDRs for culture fitHired & trained SDRs
Benefits of in-house vs outsourced appointment setting

There are two main ways of booking sales appointments over the phone: building an in-house appointment setting program or outsourcing it. 

In-house Appointment Setting Program

Building an in-house program requires hiring several appointment setting reps or SDRs as well as  a qualified manager who’ll take charge of the day-to-day operation. This method of setting sales appointments allows the company to have full control over the process and the quality of the appointments. 

The problem is that building an in-house appointment setting program is usually not feasible for smaller companies because it requires a large investment. Aside from investing in the salary and benefits of appointment setting representatives, companies also have to pay for:

  • Tools (CRM, Phone system, Mail Delivery Software)
  • Training
  • Recruitment and turnover costs

Outsourced Appointment Setting

Outsourcing appointment setting is the practice of delegating appointment setting tasks to third-party providers. For smaller companies or companies that lack the resources to build a team internally, the best solution is to entrust these tasks to third-party service providers. 

Outsourcing does not require a large investment compared to building an in-house program and appointment setting firms offer different pricing structures. Some appointment setting firms charge per sales appointment booking while others charge set retainers for their campaigns. 

Outsourced appointment setting is faster than building an in-house program. It takes 4-6 months before an SDR is ramped to full productivity, but if you choose to outsource, you can get your appointment setting campaign up and running in a few weeks.

Similar to in-house appointment setting programs, outsourcing the tasks also includes some downsides, such as: 

  • Lack of control
  • Quality issues
  • Transparency issues

The good news is that the downsides of outsourcing appointment setting are avoidable if you choose a reliable appointment setting service provider.

Are you looking for a reputable appointment setting service to fill your sales pipeline with high-quality leads? SalesRoads is here to help. Get in touch with us today and discover new growth opportunities for your business.