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Leads versus appointments: Which is right for your campaign?

How to choose the best technique for your outbound sales calls

Anika Temperante
Anika Temperante
Director of Sales and Marketing

One of the greatest strengths of B2B outbound calling is its versatility. Your business development reps or an outsourced contact center like Volkart May can use live conversations in a range of situations, from identifying sales-ready prospects to asking market research questions to upselling current customers on new services.

However, for best results, it’s important that each call campaign have a specific objective. There’s nothing worse than “winging it” during an important interaction with a prospect or customer—or trying to achieve an impossible checklist of options during a single conversation.

One of the most common decisions is how to choose between calls that generate leads, and calls designed to set sales appointments.

What’s different about generating leads vs. setting appointments?

As a first step, it’s essential to understand the differences between the two techniques.

Lead generation is all about identifying prospects who are a good fit for your product or service. That means finding out who’s interested in and qualified to buy your solution.

Lead generation calls should help you:

  • Discover who the right decision-makers are
  • Evaluate the potential opportunity
  • Understand the company’s needs and timing

With this information, you can prioritize where the marketing and sales teams put their effort, so you’re not wasting time or money on the wrong prospects. For example, cooler leads might receive a follow-up email with additional lead nurturing by the marketing team, while warmer leads go directly to the sales team for follow-up calls.

Appointment-setting is just like it sounds. It’s all about securing meetings between qualified sales prospects and your company’s sales reps or subject matter experts. The successful outcome of a B2B appointment-setting call is a calendar invite for a specific date and time, where a detailed discussion or product demo will take place.

Appointment-setting calls save the internal sales team time and effort by putting sales-ready discussions directly on their calendars. Your business development team or outsourced call center partner does the legwork of contacting, scheduling, inviting and even sending reminders.

Define what’s most important in your sales prospecting calls

One other aspect differentiates calls that generate leads from calls designed to set sales appointments: how callers use their brief time on the phone with prospects.

Engaging busy B2B decision-makers requires skill, professionalism and tenacity. Most executives are hard to reach; many have assistants and gatekeepers whose very job is saying “no” to phone calls!

When a business development rep or outsourced caller does reach the right buyer, it’s critical to use that call time wisely. This is one of the key elements that differentiates appointment setting and lead generation calling.

On an appointment-setting call, success is booking a future meeting. That means a good portion of the conversation will be devoted to comparing calendars to find a good date and time, then confirming (or obtaining) the right contact information to send a meeting invitation. That doesn’t leave much time for uncovering the prospect’s needs or collecting background information.

On a lead generation call, there’s far more time for exploration and data gathering. The business development team or outsourced call center can engage your sales prospects with a series of questions that help you better understand the market, gather background information and qualify each opportunity.

As your organization contemplates how to move forward, consider how important it will be to gather background data and qualify prospects during your one-on-one interactions. Lead generation conversations are much better suited for learning about a potential buyer. Appointment-setting focuses on getting meetings on calendars and defers the information gathering step.

Ask these questions to make the best choice

Which is a better fit for your current sales needs: generating qualified leads or booking sales appointments?

These questions can help you make the right choice.

Do you need to:

  • Learn more about your target audience, such as specific pain points, current systems and budget cycles?
  • Identify and prioritize the most sales-ready buyers in your list?
  • Collect or update decision-maker names and contact information for a current, accurate prospect list?
  • Fill your sales pipeline with both current and future opportunities?

If yes, turn to lead generation.

Can you:

  • Articulate a specific, well-honed market message?
  • Define your ideal buyer by persona and company type or produce a list of decision-maker names and contact info?
  • Provide screening questions to qualify prospects?
  • Create a specific “ask” as the subject of the meeting, such as a product demonstration?
  • Ensure dedicated internal resources are available (and eager) to take the sales appointments?

If yes, you’re ready for an appointment-setting campaign.

Tap into the benefits of a professional sales call center

Outsourcing your lead generation and appointment-setting calls to the experts can accelerate your results, improve your ROI and help keep your internal team focused on high-value opportunities.

Professional contact centers like Volkart May bring proven processes and highly trained callers who adapt quickly to your approach. Our callers function as an extension of your team, helping you to add capacity and reach your sales goals quickly.

Learn more about our capabilities, then contact us to discuss your campaign.

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