Appointment Setting FAQ

Appointment Setting FAQ

Appointment setting can be a complex topic. Knowing where to start, how much to charge, or what to expect, can make your head spin!  Worry no more, we took many of the most commonly asked questions around appointment setting and answered them directly for you!

What does appointment setting mean?

Appointment setting is the process of scheduling meetings with prospective clients. It can be handled both internally (via your own salespeople) or externally (via a third party appointment setting company). Most companies choose to handle appointment setting internally rather than externally. Typically, it is the salespeople’s job to set-up appointments with prospective clients. In some companies, appointment setting is a full-time job. These individuals, usually called inside salespeople, spend 100% of their time trying to set-up meetings with new clients.

What does a third party appointment setting company do?

A third-party appointment setting company schedules introductory meetings on your company’s behalf. Instead of having a dedicated salesperson who does this appointment setting full-time, the third-party company will take over this task, leaving your salespeople to focus on closing sales and communicating with clients. The appointment setting company usually acts as if they are an employee of the company, using their email or phone numbers. Typically the appointment setting company sets the appointments and the purchasing company runs the sales calls.

What does an appointment setter do?

An appointment setter is someone who works for an appointment setting company and typically makes calls or emails on behalf of another company. They are the first line of sales for your company. When talking to prospective clients, they introduce that company’s products or service. The key responsibility of an appointment setter is to try and set up appointments (through direct calls or email) between a company that is selling a product or service, and another that is buying it.

Why is appointment setting important?

Appointment setting is critical for any organization trying to sell their products or services to new companies. If you’re not setting appointments with new potential clients, your organization most likely isn’t growing.

Typically, salespeople are responsible for setting appointments with new potential prospects. Some organizations have dedicated positions for appointment setting, called inside salespeople. Inside salespeople are responsible specifically for initiating new conversations, which is exactly what appointment setters do. Some organizations outsource the appointment setting process to third parties and pay them per appointment set.

What’s the appointment setting process?

The appointment setting process depends on the appointment setting company and the business looking to outsource appointment setting. At the most basic level, this is what the appointment setting process looks like:

  1. The business identifies that they need more sales opportunities and they don’t have the resources to set the appointments internally. This could be for a variety of a reasons, such as their outside salespeople are too busy closing, they don’t have enough staff, or they are testing new markets and don’t want to hire full-time employees.
  2. The business and the appointment setting company meet to discuss the target market, available contact lists, number of leads they are looking for, value proposition, and timeline for when they would like to start.
  3. The appointment setting company will evaluate the type of contact they are reaching out to, and assess how difficult it will be connect with them. For example, contacting a CFO at a Fortune 1000 company is much harder than contacting the IT manager at that same company.
  4. The appointment setting company will assess the internal technology at the company and decide whether or not they will need to purchase contact lists to find people to reach out to.
  5. Based on the above information, the appointment setting company creates a proposal, which will include what the cost will be per appointment set (a specified number of appointments made).
  6. If the business decides to move forward with the appointment setting company, they will sign the contract and move on to the onboarding process.
  7. At this point, the companies typically get together and discuss value proposition, messaging, and develop a project plan.
  8. Once messaging has been approved, the appointment setting company starts executing call, email, and/or social media campaigns to try and set introductory appointments for the business.
  9. Once an appointment is set, the appointment setter usually schedules time on the calendar of a salesperson at the business. At that time, they have the introductory call.
  10. The appointment setter continues outreach to try and schedule more meetings with a variety of prospects.

Appointment Setting Tips

  1. Spend as much time as possible upfront teaching and training the appointment setting company about your business – don’t just turn them loose without the proper information! 
  2. Ask if you can do an in-person visit at the appointment setting companies facilities. Try and meet for an extended period of time (a half a day would be great) before kicking off the appointment setting process. Getting this time in-person helps you provide the necessary training for the appointment setter and eliminates confusion.
  3. Have the appointment setters practice an elevator pitch for your company to ensure they know your business, inside and out.
  4. Listen-in on calls to ensure that the appointment setter is representing your company appropriately.
  5. Give yourself a minimum of three months to try appointment setting – outbound marketing can take time to figure out, and too many businesses give up immediately if they don’t see good results right away.
  6. Do a lot of research on who is actually making the calls for the appointment setting company – many vendors have unique models. Some calls are made in the US, while others happen overseas. Some appointment setters are dedicated to one account, while others rotate through multiple accounts. There are large appointment setting companies who also use inmates to make the actual calls. Anything is possible, so make sure you know exactly what and who you are getting by specifying those details in the contract.
  7. Have a plan. For example, if it goes well, and you have several successful appointments over the next three months, what’s next? Are you eventually going to bring appointment setting in-house, or are you going to stay external forever? Know as a business whether this is a short-term or long-term fix. It will help you determine the right appointment setting company for your situation.

Is appointment setting hard?

Appointment setting is difficult for everyone! Outbound marketing can be difficult to do internally with your own employees, so these same challenges present themselves to a third party company as well. If you treat the appointment setting company as you would a new hire; training, onboarding, etc., you will have much higher success rate. 

How much does appointment setting cost?

Appointment setting has a very wide range of costs. Below are a few of the key components that factor into how much appointment setting can cost.

  1. Buyer Personas – The type of buyer you are targeting will affect the overall cost. Do you need to contact the CFO of a company, or it’s directors and managers? The more possible buyers there are, the less you have to pay per appointment
  2. Technology – Will you be using the appointment setting company’s technology or yours? Do you have cadence tools like Outreach or Salesloft that they can use?
  3. Lists – Do you have lists of potential buyers with emails and phone numbers? If these need to be purchased or built, this will be an added cost. 
  4. Needed Resource – Is this a complex sale where the appointment setter needs to sit in the US, or can you use non-US employees? The type of resource you need will determine the overall cost.
  5. Contract Length/Minimums – How long are you planning on working with an appointment setting company? Like most businesses, the longer you agree to work with a service, the better pricing options you will get.
  6. Contract Setup – Do you want to pay per appointment, or add a percentage of commission based on the closed deals? If you are purely paying for appointments, the price will be higher than if you pay per appointment fee with a percentage of closed deals. Bonuses for the actual appointment setters or for the company on specific performance can also be factors into the overall cost.

Cost of in-house vs paying for appointment setting?

Pricing internal appointment setters versus external can be extremely difficult. For the most part, our belief is that hiring a third party appointment setting company is generally more expensive longterm, versus handling it internally. We also believe that sales should be handled internally whenever possible. With that said, in the short-term, while you are trying to prove an outbound marketing strategy, appointment setting is by far a cheaper option. When you outsource appointment setting, you eliminate a multitude of expenses, such as hiring and retention costs, internal IT costs, and healthcare benefits. You typically only have to pay for results, i.e. when appointments are actually set.

Our normal rule of thumb is to recommend appointment setting for the short-term (under one year), or as you are working on growth; building out business lines, proving a business model, etc. Long-term, it is more beneficial to utilize this function internally. One of the biggest benefits (outside of cost) for an internal inside sales team is that you get a talent pipeline for the rest of your organization. When you use a third party, you don’t get the added benefit of being able to hire those individuals, and use them for other parts of your organization.