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Why appointment-setting campaigns fail

Improve results and avoid no-shows with these tips

Chris Temperante
Chris Temperante
CEO / Partner

It’s every marketing and sales team’s dream: A calendar full of qualified, sales-ready appointments—no cold calling required. All you need to do is show up and close the sale.

If only it were that easy!

Sales appointment-setting takes time, talent and training

There’s a reason outsourced appointment-setting services are so popular with B2B and medtech companies. Creating a steady stream of sales appointments with busy decision-makers takes time, talent and training. It’s a vastly different skillset than most field sales reps use in their day-to-day work.

At Volkart May, we live to cold call, prospect and nurture your sales territories. Our well-trained callers know how to navigate through gatekeepers and engage healthcare and B2B buyers. They’re friendly. They’re professional. They get answers that get results.

Know who’s ready for a sales appointment

One of the ways we succeed with sales appointment-setting is using rigorous criteria to determine which campaigns are a good fit for this technique. It starts by understanding your target market and knowing the exact profile of a qualified, sales-ready opportunity.

It’s also important to understand where sales appointments fall in your organization’s sales cycle. The appointment-setting process is far different than early-stage lead generation calls.

Typically, sales appointments are late-stage conversations that occur after the prospect expresses a specific problem that your product or service can solve. The company is already researching solutions and open to learning about new options.

In contrast, a lead generation conversation is quite different. Prospecting discussions early in the sales cycle revolve around listening, asking questions and understanding your target audience’s pain points and challenges. Both sides should evaluate each other for fit and rapport.

By the time your potential B2B or healthcare buyer agrees to a sales appointment, you should already know a great deal about each other. This establishes the foundation for a productive relationship and an appointment-setting campaign that provides maximum ROI.

Avoid these appointment-setting failures

When a sales appointment-setting initiative returns lackluster results, one of these factors is usually the culprit. As you consider appointment-setting to support your sales force, avoid these pitfalls.

Unrealistic expectations. In any healthcare market or B2B sales territory, only a select group of companies will qualify for a sales appointment. It will be a small subset compared to the leads you generate in the same conditions. That means calibrating expectations appropriately with marketing, sales and senior leaders before starting your campaign.

Unknown markets. The more you know about your target buyer, the stronger your campaign will be. If you’re selling widgets to manufacturers, for example, can you identify:

  • The title and role of the decision-maker?
  • The size and type of company most likely to purchase your product?
  • Two specific problems your solution solves?
  • The typical length of your sales cycle?

When you know the answers, you can create a clear persona of your target buyer. Then, you can tailor an appointment-setting campaign that generates results.

Generic conversations. In medtech and B2B, specifics sell. With appointment-setting, it means having a clear “ask.” This will eliminate confusion and result in more appointments that stick, rather than no-shows. Good asks include appointments for product demonstrations, pricing or proposals. They’re also set up with buyers who have a defined purchase timeframe or budget in mind. Avoid generic asks like “speaking with a representative” or “getting more information.”

Lapses in follow-up. The most egregious issue (and most easily fixed) is sales follow-up for your valued appointments. Before initiating a campaign, get buy-in from the subject matter experts or sales representatives tasked with carrying out these appointments.

  • Do they understand the campaign?
  • Are they eager to fulfill appointments?
  • Is the hand-off process clear?

Don’t let more than a few days elapse between the appointment-setting call and the actual appointment. Make sure there’s a mechanism for rescheduling when needed. Nothing shows your market you care like a well-oiled and efficient process.

Test your readiness for sales appointment-setting

To maximize your next appointment-setting campaign, look for opportunities where you know your market well.

Ask yourself:

  • Do you have a specific, well-honed message?
  • Can you define your ideal buyer by persona and company type?
  • Do you have screening questions to qualify prospects?
  • Are internal resources available (and eager) to follow up?

If your answer is “yes,” you’re well on the way to a productive campaign.

Convert to a profiling and lead generation

If your answer is “no,” there’s still great potential to generate leads and gather customer insights, with appointment-setting as a third objective. A multi-faceted campaign helps you learn while you prospect. After a few weeks of calling, you can evaluate and often convert to a more focused appointment-setting initiative.

Taking a two-step approach is perfect if you’re launching a new product, expanding into a new market segment or unsure about your target audience.

Rely on the experts. At Volkart May, we’re ready to support your next campaign, whether it’s generating leads, learning your market or setting sales-ready appointments. Contact us to discuss your options.

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