Are you a salesperson looking to find a high-quality appointment setter to optimize your time with prospects in the field?
If you are looking for a complete strategy to hire, train, and retain an excellent appointment setter for the long-term, then this article is for you!
Having hired several long-term appointment setters for my final expense insurance business since 2011, I have extensive, first-hand experience at what you must know to optimize your time finding the perfect appointment setter match for your sales business.
Here are the main topics discussed in this article:
- What to expect when you hire an appointment setter.
- Where to look for quality appointment setters
- A screening strategy to eliminate low-quality candidates.
- Tools and technology for appointment setters, and
- My favorite appointment setting script you can use right away.
While I personally focus on training agents to sell insurance, this article is perfect for individuals who sell any kind of product (B2B or B2c).
Why Should You Use An Appointment Setter?
Why should you use an appointment setter?
The biggest advantage of using an appointment setter is this: outsourcing your appointment setting frees your time to maximize your primary income-earning activity.
Bottom line, if you’re a salesperson, the way you make MORE money is by giving MORE sales presentations.
This is something I wish I learned a lot earlier in my career.
Like you, I spent much of my time on the hone and going door-to-door, personally making all the prospecting attempts for appointments.
It didn’t dawn on me until a few years in to selling life insurance that I could outsource my prospecting to a competent professional, and focus on increasing my number of sales presentations commensurately.
More appointments = more money!
I have trained insurance agents who struggled to book 5 or 6 appointments a week, calling on their own prospects, to running 30, 35, even 40 appointments each week with a “hired gun” doing the calling, only for a few hundred bucks a week.
To maximize your income-earning ability, you must eliminate tasks that pay you little per hour, like dialing and paper-pushing, and spend as MUCH of your time possible doing those activities that earn the most income. And for salespeople, that’s giving presentations.
How much of a profit increase will you see? Expect your appointment volume to increase 2, 3, even 4-times your regular amount with an appointment setter.
Sure. There is a fee you must cover to use an appointment setter. But it is likely your product has good-enough margins to safely cover the fee with one or two sales.
Appointment setting is learnable
Thankfully, appointment setting is NOT hard to learn.
It’s a skill many people average people have learned to do well. Even if you hire someone with zero appointment setting skills, you can teach the skill set with relative ease to many people.
Hire Overseas Or Stateside Callers?
A common question I get is if it’s best to hire an appointment setter locally or offshore the activity to achieve a lower cost.
Offshoring telemarketing is a big business, with the Philippines, Pakistan, and India having large call center operations.
What’s best? The answer is… “it depends.”
So let’s spend time discussing both options.
Overseas Appointment Setting: Pros And Cons
The biggest draw to outsourcing your appointment setting overseas is the low cost.
It’s common to pay an individual appointment setter or call center in the Philippines as low as $3 to $5 an hour. And even with the high-end appointment setters, rarely will the rate exceed $10 an hour.Some of the high-end appointment setters in the Philippines are no more than $10 American dollars per hour.
Despite the potential for a lower cost-per-appointment, there are potential drawbacks.
#1: Harder To Manage
With your appointment setter thousands of miles away, managing them for optimal performance is difficult. And if you’re not hiring an independent freelancer, it is impossible to know for sure who is doing the calling, and coach them on making improvements.
#2: Language Pronunciation Nuances
While many offshore appointment setting groups speak English, they don’t do so with the customary precision we’re used to.
Sometimes offshore appointment setters pronounce words differently than we do in the States. To some prospects, this immediately creates a negative vibe, causing many to simply hang-up.
In certain industries like mine, appointment setting with an obvious accent can affect the number of booked hourly appointments.
In my line of work, I sell life insurance to seniors. Most are 60 and older. At those ages, many have hearing problems, and are telemarketed constantly throughout the day.
So, if my 60 year old plus prospect starts an appointment-setting interaction with a thick-accent caller, it raises the chances of resulting in an otherwise opportune presentation.
With careful screening, you can overcome this potential roadblock. Many offshore appointment setters are open-minded to working on their accents to sound better to the prospects they call. And many times the higher hourly rate appointment setters speak very good English with little-to-no noticeable accent.
Domestic Appointment Setting: Pros And Cons
I believe hiring telemarketers inside the U.S. is the superior option for many salespeople, especially concerning the potential for language- and accent-issues that come with offshoring appointment setting.
Easier To Train, Higher Rates
While domestic callers are easier to coach and train, expect to pay a higher average rate per hour relative to offshore appointment setting.
Hourly cost is a big reason why you see fewer U.S. based appointment setters.
Here’s how I mean. The telemarketers in my annuity appointment setting operation charges $25 to $30 an hour. I’d consider that rate on the cheaper side, too. I’ve seen U.S.-based telemarketers charge $40, $50, even $60 an hour.
Bottom line, you’ll have to do the math on determining if the higher cost is manageable according to your profit margins and prospects.
An investment, not a cost
Remember… hiring an appointment setter is an investment, not a cost. You are buying back your most valuable commodity: your time.
And with that added time, you can invest it into more sales presentations, hopefully covering the required investment and yielding a multiple of profit.
Hire An Appointment Setting Group Versus An Independent Freelancer?
One consideration you need to make: do you work with an appointment-setting call center, or do you hire an independent appointment setter?
Hiring a call center
Hiring a call center takes you down the path we discussed earlier.
The most affordable options are offshore, whereas the more expensive options are domestic.
One downside to working with an appointment setting call center is there is less hands-on control over quality control management. You have no choice as to who makes the calls, and afford little opportunity in coaching callers to improve.
A positive point partnering with call centers: scalability. It’s much easier to scale appointment setting this way, especially if your sales business involves other reps like yourself.
For example, many foreign-based appointment setters start you with 10- or 20-seat minimum, and offer the ability to scale a multiple-level higher as your appointment setting demands increase.
Hiring a freelancer
Freelancers offer benefits call centers struggle to provide.
First, you experience a direct relationship with the appointment setter. In the hiring process, you can screen callers immediately to see if they fit your expectations. You can coach them personally on your script, and help improve their delivery for better results.
You can’t quite get that hands-on experience with a call center. Why? Because the hiring and training of the callers is out of your control.
Second, the best freelancers are autonomous. Once a good freelancer is trained the script, they need little to no micromanagement. I’ve hired multiple freelance appointment setters that worked with me for years that required very little oversight, once properly trained.
Where To Find Appointment Setters
Whether you’re hiring call centers, individual freelancers, based domestically or offshore, the one website that’s worked well for me is Upwork.com.
I have used this site exclusively since 2012 for both freelancer hires and call center appointment setter hires. There are always a multitude of options for both types available on Upwork.
Craigslist is not just for selling your old junk. In fact, a large percentage of viewers browse Craigslist for job opportunities.
There are a lot of people looking for part-time telemarketing and appointment setting positions. You will get a lot of interests from stay at home moms and people who are between jobs that are looking for some kind of moneymaking activity.
Recruiting, Screening, And Training Appointment Setters
I have been recruited telemarketers and appointment setters since 2012, so I have quite a bit of experience and success with this process. I’ve also learned a lot over the years about to do and what NOT to do.
What follows below are some guidelines of what I do when I’m in need of a quality appointment setter, and the steps I take to ensure I partner with the right applicant.
Place your job ad
I prefer using Upwork.com, as it has been a reliable source for me, so I will use that site for my example.
I develop my ad so that it tells the prospective appointment setter the basics, such as:
- What the job entails,
- How many hours of work a week,
- the hourly pay,
- Conditions that must be met to partner with me.
Usually I receive 10 to 20 applications, which is more than enough to worki with.
Initial Applicant Screening
When I’ve collected my 10 to 20 applications for the appointment setting position, I begin the process of whittling down the list to the top 5 candidate list.
First thing I look for are candidates who don’t match my requirements. That typically eliminates 25% of them.
Second, I check reviews. How well have other businesses rated the experience?
At first, I will eliminate everyone with a rating below 80%. However, I will keep unrated applicants and consider interviewing them if their application looks solid.
Third, I begin to eliminate people based on experience. First, have they ever telemarketed before in an outbound sales environment? Have they had experience in the senior citizen market, or in the insurance business?
Again, I may not eliminate a candidate with telemarketing experience outside of the insurance business. It all just depends.
After all is said and done, I have between 3 and 5 applicants remaining. All are highly qualified, experienced, and worthy of the next step. Which is the phone interview.
I ask applicants about background, industry experience, ask to hear a sample appointment setting script and how she handles objections.
These questions show how the applicant responds on the spot in addition to basic appointment setting skills.
After my round of interviews, I pick the top 2 applicants, partnering with them on 3 to 5 day probationary period.
Here’s what I mean. I tell both that I’m hiring both, and will ultimately make my hiring decision on who performs the best. Of course, I pay both the agreed-upon rate for time worked during the probationary period.
I love this hiring strategy because it allows both of us to develop a feel if this is mutually beneficial without long-term consequences. Plus, it gives you a backup plan if one of the appointment setters falls through.
My Favorite Script For Hired Appointment Setters
When I hire a new appointment setter, I explain to her my goal is simply to do one thing well…
Get me into the door!
Most salespeople would benefit immensely having their appointment setter simply focus on acquiring an appointment.
Some salespeople think qualifying is a good idea. And maybe it is for your industry.
However, I believe using the face-to-face sales appointment to sell your product or service is best. Sure, you may run across unqualified prospects more, but you may also unearth sales opportunities not apparent on the first appointment telephone call.
Here’s an appointment setting script sample I use. Feel free to modify it as you wish:
“Hey Mrs. Jones, my name is David Duford and the reason I’m calling is I’m a life insurance agent that specializes in helping business owners with their life insurance needs. I’d like to show you the kind of work I do and all it takes is 5 minutes. And what you do with the information is up to you. How’s Tuesday at 10:00 or would 2:00 be better?”
This is a basic “Sell the Appointment” script that gets appointments very well. Obviously modify where necessary, and focus your appointment setter on selling why it’s a good idea to book the appointment, as opposed to selling the product over the phone.
Training And Managing Your Appointment Setter
With my experience in hiring virtual appointment setters working from home, I recommend providing recording training for your appointment setter to review. Whether the training is audio- or video-based doesn’t matter.
Record yourself going through the script. Make sure to include the most common objections and how you would work around them.
Be sure to have your caller record appointment setting attempts. You can use smartphone call recorders, or built-in recording inside of phone dialing software. That way you have real-life material to grade the quality of the appointment setting, so you can determine where to improve the caller’s performance (or to fire her if she’s gone lame =).
Appointment Setting Software
As we wrap up this article on appointment setting, let’s discuss important appointment setting software.
Many of you will benefit (especially if you’re doing B2C) from a power dialer.
A power dialer is a dialing software that dials multiple phone lines at a time. And the reason agents and reps use it is because most of your leads simply do NOT answer their phone.
Instead of wasting precious time, power dialers dial 3 numbers at a time. You spend more time each hour talking with prospects for appointments.
2 Power Dialer Recommendations
Both dialers are good. You can use them for one or multiple appointment setters.
You will also need to have a CRM database in order to keep track of your leads.
I like the ones that are easy to use and not ridiculously expensive, such as:
Last but not least is the list.
If you’re prospecting cold you need a good list for your dialers to work. If you’ve got leads, then you can upload them to the dialer.
For a good-quality list, I like InfoFree, for both B2B and B2C lists.
WARNING! Resist the urge to go cheap on calling data. Many times the low-price list vendors have terribly out-of-date data that is little to no good.
I hope you feel confident in hiring a high-quality appointment setter, and feel the benefits of hiring one outweigh the time and energy in finding a training one.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me here. Thanks for reading!