Business Appointment Setting Services
Outsourcing business appointment setting services (B2B) can streamline your company’s sales process resulting in more customers and increased profitability. It is a valuable service for businesses to quickly pre-qualify perspective customers, shortens the sales cycle and improves the productivity of higher cost internal sales staff. Business appointment setting services provides immediate, direct verbal contact with your potential future customers and should lower the total cost of new customer acquisition. Whether your business appointment is face-to-face or via the telephone, business appointment setting services is an important task for speeding up the process of business negotiations and interactions, particularly for complex or high-value products and services.
Here is a guide for using business appointment setting services as part of your company’s sales strategy.
1 - Business Appointment Criteria
Before considering a third-party for your business appointment setting services, you should invest the time to formalize what are the business appointment criteria required. This process of definition serves to delineate what your company will require as a business appointment for your internal sales staff. The better the definition, the clearer the expectations to the outsourcing service provider and your internal sales staff. This results in higher qualified business appointments and higher conversions to new customer sales, which is your ultimate goal.
Some basic business appointment criteria include:
- Does The Business Fit Your Target Profile?
- Is The Business Contact The Decision Maker?
- Does The Business Need Your Product/Service?
- Is There A Budget Approved For Your Product/Service?
- How Urgent Is The Pain Your Product/Services Resolves?
- What Are The Business Appointment Expectations?
2 -Appointment Prospect List
The success of your business appointment setting services will be greatly influenced by the quality of the prospect list. Better the quality of data, the more efficient the process of contact and filtering of prospects.
Using a third-party outsourcing provider to “filter” a universe of potential customers to generate pre-qualified prospects is an expense that needs to be monitored and controlled. The smaller the “universe” of potential sales prospects, the more efficiently the outsourcing provider can dedicate its resources and lower the cost of a identifying a potential new customer.
A good quality appointment prospect list is worth the investment to help lower the cost of the of the appointment setting outreach process of the service provider.
3 - Business Appointment Ranking
To paraphrase George Orwell, “All business appointments are equal, but some business appointments are more equal than others.” That is, some business appointments are more important than others and need to be ranked and prioritized. Why? Most companies have limited sales resources and need to prioritize how they are used to maximize their return on investment.
Each company’s criteria for ranking business appointment leads will be different. Your business may prioritize time to close, value of account, level of urgency, etc. For example, an urgent interest may require a “live transfer” from the outsourcing service provider to your internal sales staff. Alternatively, a long time to close may be periodically contacted by the outsourcing service provider until its status has change. This frees up your internal sales staff to the higher ranking business appointments. This is a dynamic process that is constantly in flux.
You should balance the complexity of your ranking system of business appointment leads versus the effort required to manage and administer. If it has more than five ranking types, reconsider.
4 - Service Provider Selection
When outsourcing to a business appointment setting services provider your company is able to leverage their resources and experience to increase efficiency of operations. Generally there is a cost reduction versus dedicating the appointment setting activities internally. This is due to the business appointment services provider’s investments in equipment, technology, training and staffing that most companies can not justify since that is not their primary business focus.
Depending upon the complexity of the sales process, your internal sales personnel can focus on converting qualified sales prospects to customers rather than searching and filtering for prospects. This streamlining of your company’s internal sales process improves sales conversions and lowers the cost of customer acquisition. Additionally your internal sales team can dedicate more resources to your existing customers with the goal of increasing average revenue and referrals.
Your service provider should have the experience and quality that aligns with your company’s expectations. A benefit working with a business appointment services provider is the real-world experience gained by dealing with a history of multiple clients. Your internal sales staff will benefit from this knowledge to improve their productivity and efficiency by focusing on pre-qualified sales prospects to new customer conversion.
5 - Coordination Between Parties
Coordination and transparency of communication are key elements to the success of a relationship with a business appointment setting services provider. Once your company has decided to use a third-party outsourcing provider to generate sales prospects appointments, you have created a virtual extension of your internal sales staff. Your management philosophy should encompass both internal and external sales groups to work as an integrated team with complementary goals.
A service level agreement (SLA) defines the responsibilities and expectations between your company and the outsourcing service provider. It is often a working document, subject to change as the business experience evolves. Each party in the business relationship has their responsibilities and each receives corresponding benefits. To be a long-term relationship, both parties need to be satisfied.
Technology allows for communication between parties to be virtually instantaneous and transparent to distance. Whether a telephone call, chat, or virtual conference, the communication method and frequency should focus on results versus expectations and what needs to be changed to align them better.
6 - Service Provider Compensation
Your company’s decision to use a third-party business appointment setting services provider reflects various business goals. Two basic ones are increased revenue and profitabilty by reducing the cost of sales prospects appointments and new customer acquisitions. The service provider compensation plan you negotiate needs to reflect these two fundamental business goals.
First, the compenstation plan needs to be balanced and profitable for both parties. Otherwise the relationship will be short-lived with losses for both. Second, the level of risk assumed (opportunity and financial) should be shared and minimized. Third, the metrics that govern the compensation plan need to be transparent to ensure trust.
Listed below are a variety of options for a business appointment setting services compensation plan:
- Fixed/Agent Hour (Subject To Metric Goals)
- Fixed/Business Appointment Lead (Subject To Quality Approval)
- Variable/Business Appointment Lead Volume (Subject to Quality Approval)
- Variable/Business Appointment Lead Conversion
- Mix Of Above
CONCLUSION - Business Appointment Setting Services
A general guide for any company considering outsourcing third-party business appointment setting services is presented. Factors that a company should consider in this process include 1) Business Appointment Criteria; 2) Appointment Prospect List; 3) Business Appointment Ranking; 4) Service Provider Selection; 5) Coordination Between Parties; and 6) Service Provider Compensation.
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