Telemarketing Appointment Setting Best Practices—Part 1



By Angela Garfinkel

Telemarketing appointment setting is a cost-effective way to use less expensive people resources to set appointments for your salespeople. The best telemarketing appointment setting initiatives have these things in common:

  • A targeted contact list with phone numbers
  • A friendly, open phone voice
  • A nutshell message
  • A reason for the prospect to schedule the appointment with you: WIIFM (what’s in it for me)
  • A timely calendar invite sent via email with a very brief summary of what the appointment will cover
  • Productive outbound dialing—ideally about thirty-five dials per hour, 262 dials per day from a B2B telemarketing appointment setting program

If any of these core components aren’t optimized, then your telemarketing appointment setting program won’t produce the highest possible return on investment (ROI).

Telemarketing appointment setting requires tenacity and creativity. The tenacity is having the willpower to make hundreds of phone calls a day, resulting in a handful of appointments. The creativity is identifying what works and what isn’t working to come up with the best approach to secure more appointments that are kept. Some people agree to appointments because they don’t like conflict or don’t like saying no. Click To Tweet

In this first article in a three-part series, I’ll cover the concept of appointment kept rate and what you can do to ensure the highest appointment kept rate possible.

What Is the Appointment Kept Rate?

The appointment kept rate is the percentage of appointments that are kept (not cancelled or no-showed) by your prospect divided by the total number of appointments set for the period you’re measuring. For example, if your outbound telemarketing appointment setting team set five hundred appointments last month and three hundred appointments were kept (including those that were rescheduled), your appointment kept rate is 60 percent. That’s a pretty good rate.

As an outsourced telemarketing appointment setting resource, our company works with many clients in many different industries, and we find that the methodology of getting a high appointment kept percent is relatively simple.

The first critical component for a high appointment kept rate is making sure the prospect is told clearly WIIFM (what’s in it for me). Some people agree to appointments because they don’t like conflict or don’t like saying no. So they agree to the appointment but don’t honor their commitment because it is easier to say yes and then not show up. Make sure that you reinforce with your appointment confirmation (wrap-up) verbiage what your prospect will gain by attending the appointment. If you can’t put that in one or two sentences, you need to work on creating an effective nutshell message.

Next, be sure you send a calendar invite immediately following the telemarketing call to lock in the appointment time on your prospect’s calendar. It’s best if you can get access to the salespeople’s calendars and set the appointments on their calendar on their behalf, inviting them to the appointment. In the calendar invite, include the nutshell language in the appointment notes or comments to reinforce why it’s worth them keeping the appointment.

Another nice touch is to send an email from the appointment setter to the prospect (copying the salesperson for whom the appointment is set). Thank them for their time, let them know that they should have received a calendar invite, and ask them to please accept the appointment to lock in the time.

If you set appointments too far in advance, expect a high rate of no-shows or reschedules. As a rule of thumb, we limit our outbound telemarketing appointment setters to set appointments no more than one week from the date of the call. If the prospect insists they can’t do an appointment sooner, then set a callback to set the appointment; don’t set the appointment and hope for the best.

In the next two articles on this topic, I’ll share best practices for finding a good prospect list and best practices for writing an appointment setting script.

Angela Garfinkel is the president and founder of Quality Contact Solutions, a leading outsourced telemarketing services organization serving the healthcare, financial services, automotive, market research, professional associations, and other B2B focused verticals. Angela leads a talented team that runs thousands of outbound telemarketing program hours daily. She is also a certified Self-Regulatory Organization (SRO) auditor with the Professional Association for Customer Engagement, and she is a designated Customer Engagement Compliance Professional (CECP). Contact Angela at angela.garfinkel@qualitycontactsolutions.com or 516-656-5118.