B2B Appointment Setting: Everything You Need to Know
What is B2B appointment setting?
B2B appointment setting is a sales development activity that involves specialized reps cold calling and following up with top-of-funnel leads, in order to schedule sales meetings for a closing sales rep who will deliver a more detailed sales pitch.
The purpose of B2B appointment setting is to delegate the prospecting task, allowing the closing sales rep (or account executive) to spend their time only on qualified leads. This is particularly helpful when dealing with a larger sale price, since those deals take longer to nurture and close.
Many companies choose to outsource the appointment setting function to avoid the cost and effort of filling this role internally.
What does an appointment setter do?
An appointment setter contacts sales leads to schedule sales meetings and product demos. Appointment setters reach out—primarily via phone—to cold leads, inbound marketing leads, and they follow up with warm leads. Part of an appointment setter’s duties is to qualify leads by confirming that the lead is a fit for the product and has purchase authority.
What is a sales development representative?
Sales development representative (SDR) is another name for the appointment setter role, the specialized reps responsible for prospecting and scheduling sales meetings. Sometimes called business development representative (BDR), these reps focus on developing the top of the sales funnel through cold calling, lead qualification, and early nurturing.
Sales development rep skills
What skills are needed for an appointment setter? An SDR needs the following skills to be successful:
- Understand and deliver value propositions
- Find the correct point of contact for an account
- Handle objections by understanding prospect needs and pain points
- Ask discovery questions to gather prospect information for sales
- Master the repeatable daily process put in place by leadership
- Navigate Salesforce or the chosen CRM
- Consistently accelerate call volumes
When does a company need B2B appointment setting?
B2B appointment setting fits the needs of some sales teams more than others. Two signs that your company could benefit from B2B appointment setting include:
- You’re selling expensive B2B products/services
- You’re experiencing long sales cycles
1. Selling expensive B2B products
If you sell high-ticket products/services or focus on large deals, closing a sale likely involves many touchpoints and winning over multiple stakeholders through account-based sales (ABS). B2B appointment setting includes identifying those key decision-makers and persistently following up with prospects until they are ready for a sales conversation, reducing the amount of effort closing reps must exert on these discovery and nurturing activities.
2. Long sales cycles
A long sales cycle is the natural result of a high-involvement B2B purchase. Appointment setting helps you shorten the sales cycle by allowing closing reps to spend their time only on prospects who are qualified and already thinking about purchasing your product.
Should you outsource appointment setting?
Many companies choose to outsource B2B appointment setting to save on expenses and to avoid having to build and train an internal team. Outsourcing allows organizations to save money on:
- Recruiting for the high-turnover SDR role
- Training and ramping up new SDRs
- Hardware and software licenses
- Employee benefits
- Other miscellaneous overhead
Appointment setting services cost
Appointment setting services may be charged on a cost per appointment basis, or through a monthly or annual contract.
You can expect to pay $50-250 per appointment on average when you outsource appointment setting. On the high end, you could pay up to $500 per appointment set. On the low end, you could end up paying as little as $10 per lead but with questionable lead quality.
Your price will depend on the quality of appointments, your industry, as well as the complexity of your product or campaign.
Building a sales development team
An appointment setting team is accountable for different duties and KPIs than other functions within an inside sales team. As such, a sales development team requires its own layered management, including strategic, tactical, and operational.
- Director: Drives high-level strategy and ensures the team is creating efficient pipeline growth
- Manager: Oversees day-to-day operations and provides tactical support
- Sales development rep (SDR): Cold calls, qualifies leads, and sets appointments for the sales team
SDR team structure
How do you structure a sales team with both SDRs and AEs? This depends on how many deals you realistically plan to close and how much pipeline is needed to meet those goals.
- One-to-one (1:1) – This ratio is a good starting point for many companies and allows a close, direct relationship between the sales rep and the SDR setting their appointments.
- Two-to-one (2:1) – Having two SDRs for each sales rep means the rep gets twice as much pipeline built for them daily. This is helpful for companies with smaller deal sizes, quicker sales cycles, and a highly sought-after offering.
- One-to-two (1:2+) – Having one SDR for multiple sales reps is useful when your pipeline is generally slow to build but sales cycles are longer and more involved and closed deals have a higher price.
It’s best practice to have an SDR set appointments only for their specific sales rep(s), as it helps facilitate team morale, keeps results consistent, and makes tracking results easier.
Inbound vs. outbound SDR
An inbound SDR follows up with warm leads that are generated through marketing initiatives, or those who have requested a product demo. An outbound SDR initiates the first touch on a lead through cold call or email efforts. Inbound sales development rep is generally more of an entry-level role, as leads who have already shown interest are more likely to agree to a meeting.
Instead of specializing SDRs into inbound and outbound, some companies choose to employ an allbound SDR team in which each rep is responsible for both inbound and outbound leads within a specific territory or list of target accounts.
- Reps get better visibility into the accounts they’re interacting with
- More productive inbound conversations improve SDR morale
- Challenging cold call conversations strengthen SDR skills
- Track inbound and outbound lead generation side by side
Should SDRs report to sales or marketing?
65% of SDR teams report to sales leadership. The primary reason an SDR team would report to marketing leadership is if its an inbound-only team. In small companies, the appointment setting team might report directly to the CEO.
However, most SDR teams, inbound teams included, report to sales:
Some companies that silo their inbound and outbound SDRs into separate teams end up with one team reporting to sales and one reporting to marketing.
The difference in ownership of siloed SDR teams can cause confusion for reps, miscommunication between teams, and issues when it comes to attributing opportunity- and revenue-generating activities. This is another reason an allbound SDR team is the better option for many organizations.
The benefits of B2B appointment setting summarized
B2B appointment setting allows companies to accelerate their sales pipeline in a number of ways:
- Ensures leads receive proper discovery, follow-up, and attention
- SDRs help maintain a clean and up-to-date database of target accounts
- Shortens sales cycles, especially for big deals with complex buying processes
- Keeps account executives focused on prospects who are more likely to buy