B2B appointment setting is one of the most important aspects of pipeline generation and growing a business. Be it in person, a call, or a web meeting with a key executive from one of your ideal customer profile persona (ICPs) lists provides sales execs with the first sales conversation. And we all know that the sales process doesn’t start until the conversation starts.


However, booking a meeting isn’t simple – here’s why:


Educated Buyers: Decision makers today do lots of research on their own. Their browsing websites of vendors and often are educated of purchasing options prior to engaging with a vendor’s sales team. Ultimately, sales reps require as much industry knowledge and an understanding of the prospect’s problem that they want to solve.


Complex Purchasing Teams: Selling to companies is nothing like selling to individual people. The buying decisions usually involve a team of influencers and key decision makers.


Investments Not Purchases: The stakes are high during a B2B sales transaction. Negotiations can take weeks or months. With more budget at play, sometimes millions of dollars, closing a project almost always takes longer than expected.


Engaging in B2B appointment setting on your own can be a challenge and time consuming. Especially with the ever changing tech stack, data landscape and changing pace of business. The following tips are from Green Leads’ best practices for booking sales qualified leads (SQLs, or appointments):


  1. Know your Ideal Customer Profile and Persona.

Start by scoping out what type of companies you want to target based on demographic and firmographic criteria. Step two is to understand the persona of who you’re selling to. Not just a title or role, but go deeper and look at who has the problem you can solve. Or better, who has the problem you can solve that doesn’t know they have the problem yet (easier sale). There are great resources out there. Through data service providers, you can get access to the information you need. In Green Leads’ case, we have licenses to over $70M contact records.


  1. Start with the Problem. Don’t “pitch”.

Don’t sell “features and functionality”. Start with the problem. Be it email or phone introductory call, the first reaction you want from the prospect is an emotional punch in the gut where they realize they have a problem. Then, and only then, do you introduce your solution. Maybe even start with the ramifications of not solving the problem. We call this style a “Point of View”. Based on the book Play Bigger, co-authored by by Category Design Advisor’s partner Kevin Maney, the concept is all around leading with the problem.


  1. Make the POV your TED Talk. Write it down.

Problem – Ramifications – Solution…and then and only then, introduce your product or services and brand. Know it by heart. Practice what to say, including how to react to objections.


  1. Talk in Universal Truths.

In order to avoid objections talk in “Universal Truths.” Consider you are sitting with someone on a beautiful day and you say “Blue Sky, huh?”  They cannot object to the statement – it’s a blue sky, a universal truth. Another form of universal truth are facts about the company or prospect your calling into. Easy enough to do with some LinkedIn and google research.


Don’t just bring things up for the heck of it, make the comments relevant. “I saw on your LinkedIn that you’re the Director of Recruiting – being based in the bay area, finding talent must be challenging.” You stated their title, which shows you did your homework. You stated their location and a fact about their role and location that is factual and leads to the problem you solve.


  1. Respect the Prospects Time.

Unless you can book your meeting by email, you’re going to have to dial the phone. Consider that most cold calls are structured like this: a) 10 seconds to keep the prospect from hanging up, b) 30 seconds to gain permission to continue (good spot for leading with the problem), c) 3-4 minutes to communicate more about the problem, the ramifications of not solving the problem and your solution, and then d) the most important part…shut up and listen!


  1. Listen don’t Talk.

This is more important during your first sales call as opposed to your meeting scheduling call, but is applicable to both. I had a head of sales in the ‘90s tell me “Stop talking, and don’t say a word. The end of the phone that talks first loses.”


How true. This might sound weird, but if you sense the prospect is interested in talking more, go for the formal appointment, and offer solid options but open options, “Next Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons are fairly open, could you look at your calendar and see what timeslot works for you?” Then go silent. Completely silent. You may even hear them typing on their keyboard. Just wait. Hopefully they will come back with a solid time. Then end it with confirmation that you’re sending the calendar invite and will talk to them next week.


  1. No is not the End of the Call.

If the prospect just won’t take the meeting or says they aren’t the best fit, ask for a referral to someone who is. And don’t just get the referral, ask them to transfer you (if it’s a company phone system), or make the introduction by email. A warm introduction beats a cold call any day.


  1. Don’t Confirm the Meeting.

This is one of the biggest mistakes sales people make. The day before the meeting they send an email saying “Just confirming tomorrow’s meeting…” Good luck. Green Leads has found that when you do this you’ll have 35% of the meetings fall out because you gave the prospect a window of opportunity to ask for a reschedule or cancel.

Charles Y.

Charles has been working as a webmaster since 1998. Since then, he has had his hands in thousands of websites and has helped millions get online through a company he partially owns called Web Host Pro.

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