Appointment Setting is a part of demand generation that is done through vendors that specialize in the task, or by inside sales teams that add it to their roster of tasks. Building a performing team of appointment setters, as a business or a function of inside sales, requires best practices, tips and tricks -- and most of all -- discipline.
I get asked the following question a lot when I’m on the road, be it from clients or prospects or from folks I’m chatting with during industry networking events:
“How do you get the most out of your appointment setting team?”
That's the $64,000 question. Getting the most from appointment setters is always something that’s at the forefront of our minds -- especially when maintaining both quality and quantity in the results. The minute you stop thinking about driving performance is the minute production and quality drops, and a minute lost is a minute you'll never get back.
There are several ways that you can keep your B2B appointment setting team cranking and happy, too. If your team is happy, they’re going to be executing at a higher level.
Incent Them Strategically - If you want to get the most out of your appointment setting team, you’ve got to incent them to achieve the right goals. If the most important measure is to have meetings with a positive outcome (read: logical next step in the sales process), then doesn’t it make sense that your appointment setting team is compensated on the quality of meetings rather than dials, pitches and meeting count? Old school call center tactics work, but need adjustments. We're not selling new paper subscriptions here.
SPIFF Them Periodically - Everybody loves competition, fun and reward, and a SPIFF is a great way to way bring it. If your team is chugging along but you’re looking for something to push performance or direct it in a certain direction, a SPIFF is a great tool. Do you know what your reps hold dear. Is it cash? Is it time off? Is it gift cards? Is it ego? Whatever it is, surprising them with a contest is a great way to up the team’s production and incent teamwork.
Provide Them With Sales 2.0 Tools - Don't just help your team, implement Sales 2.0 tools and techniques and make your whole organization more agile. Run a training class on LinkedIn tips and tricks. If your average appointment setter is taking 100-120 dials to get an appointment, why not demonstrate techniques that can shorten those cycles and provide better quality in the process? Add click-to-dial software for your CRM, Jigsaw and NetProspex subscriptions, or social media tools for prospecting purposes, and you’re all set.
Give Them Freedom to Work - I've seen this job done a hundred different ways. Provide freedom of technique. If someone is better starting the task with research and others are better as hard core dialers, accommodate them. Maintain best practices, but give your team the freedom to work in their comfort zone. Find ways to measure them that takes into account "their personal best practices".
Provide Them With Support - Don't just give them a pitch and a phone. Back up your appointment setters with resources and staff. Help them with things like list-building, email creations, scripting, etc. If your reps can spend less time on support tasks, that leaves more time for production. Simple as that.
Ultimately, what you want to do is get the most from your B2B appointment setters, and these are some of the ways we do that for our clients and ourselves. How do you push your team to greater achievements?
Photo Credit: ianturton via Flickr
When we started Green Leads we set out to build the perfect Virtual Call Center. We accomplished it, and other than not seeing people face-to-face every day (they still are required to come in a few days a week), the way we work is identical to a traditional call center. We can see people's dials, what CRM records they modify, listen in for training, etc. Of the many benefits, here are but a few:
- Working from home
- Distributed resources for disaster recovery (this happened with last year's ice storm)
- Flexible hours, allowing for a better work/life balance
- Reduced overhead of an office
- The use of "work at home" as an incentive for performance
- No commute adding an hour or two to people's personal lives
- All the environmental beneifts -- no new computers, no commute, less waste
There were some issues, though. We lost two employees who wanted more of a team community. We lost another because he and his wife were unable to be home all day in the same house. We lost some borderline employees who we may have been able to save with better coaching and training. All that said, we grew 4X over three years. Things are booming. But we wanted to resolve these negatives.
The solution: a Virtual Hybrid. We built out an office with the "hotel" concept. We still use all the same cloud technologies, but if you want to call a desk home for a day, the office is available and it's got all the comforts of home.
Each person has a box to store personal belongings in (see photo). A picture of the family, a coffee mug, a special mousepad ... we even have someone storing his own flavored coffee creamer.
What has worked better than expected is the impact on new hire training. They can stay in-office for all the coaching and training we can give them. We can even use the work-at-home goal as an incentive to ramp up to speed. On the other hand, we've asked our veterans to schedule regular "in-office" days a couple times a month for project meetings and mentoring.
- Increased team community
- Faster training and ramp-up
- Continued virtual benefits
- Reduced overhead cost (facilities, and use of virtual technologies)
- A place to meet visitors
- Centralized location for the management team, who require more interraction
Ultimately, just during month one -- a holiday month to boot -- December's weeks have seen the highest appointment setting rates of the year. Linda and I drive a hybrid car...now we work in one.
How do you work?
We've all seen it, more than web publishers would like. That dreaded 404 Page not found error. A couple months ago, someone wrote to me regarding my company site saying they got an external link back to my site and received a 404 error because the linker mistakenly referenced the URL. It happens. Then one day I stumbled on Smashing Magazine's article that showed creative 404 pages. I hadn't even known that using the 404 error to go to a specific page was possible. But now that I did, I was determined to use it to my advantage, and I recommend you do the same with your site.
We created a simple 4 panel video with some Green Leads messaging about appointment setting. It's sweet, short, and conveys what we want to convey in 15 seconds. Now that's a good use of someone's typo mistake.
To see it work, you can type any url address at www.green-leads.com that may not exist, like http://www.green-leads.com/missingpage.html or yourname.html, whatever. The missing page will redirect your browser to our video. Try it. Type in anything you want after the ".com/" and it will work.
You can learn how to create your own custom 404 page here.
Green Leads has recently been doing a team micro-lending project. Our employees can donate on a regular basis, we match dollar for dollar, and then we decide as a team what Kiva borrower to invest in. It's a great cause, and in the current economy, a great way to push from the bottom. One of the best parts of doing this is getting updates from our borrowers. Finding out that the boat someone purchased is now harvesting fish for the fish market. It closes the loop and makes a good thing a human thing.
Kiva has just added video to their site for borrowers to provide updates and enrich their profiles. What a fantastic addition to an already impactful concept.
Posted on Kiva's blog this week: Video on Kiva Borrower Profiles
"Kiva's engineering team has been working on an experiment for the last few weeks to see how we can bring borrowers and lenders closer. In the past, we've seen that photographs have been one of the biggest ways for our lenders to feel connected to our borrowers.
We decided to take that a step farther by experimenting with a new medium: video!"