Why automation can’t replace appointment setting in a sales strategy

Article Lead Gen Sales Telemarketing

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or on a desert island somewhere particularly remote, you can’t have missed all the hype surrounding automation. In recent years, all sorts of claims – some plausible, others more outlandish – have been made about the impending march of the machines.

Of course, automation itself is nothing new. Since time immemorial, people have found ways to mechanise some tasks so that they can concentrate on others. And, with the arrival of artificial intelligence, it is fair to say that more roles will be automated away over the next few years. The ethical implications of this are real and a matter for debate, but they aren’t our concern here.

Instead, we intend to look critically at some of the claims made for sales automation, particularly with regard to B2B appointment setting. Although automation certainly has the potential to raise the bar for sales strategy, our argument here is that the human element is still vitally important – which is why any businesses that neglect appointment setting do so at their peril.

Sales automation – myth and reality

The core objective for any business is, obviously, to increase sales, revenue and thereby profits as well. The field of B2B sales is no exception, and numerous digital tools are already automating certain processes, including lead generation, workflows and data management.

By using such software, businesses hope to eliminate unnecessary tasks so that their sales teams can shift their focus to more pressing matters. Through these efficiency savings, firms can create a more standardised workflow, link up with more leads and thereby – hopefully – close more deals.

However, it’s a big leap to go from this to the assumption that appointment setting itself can be replaced by automation. Appointment setting should still be central to your sales strategy, because it is proven in forging valuable, enduring working relationships with clients – and, crucially, this requires an understanding of human psychology that automated tools simply can’t provide.

Why appointment setting still matters

There are countless marketing tools and strategies at the disposal of businesses today, but there’s still no substitute for a direct, person-to-person chat with prospective clients. This provides a great opportunity to highlight the challenges businesses face, as well as their aims and objectives.

B2B appointment setting enables companies to identify the right opportunities, gather valuable intelligence on what prospective clients are looking for and build close working relationships. The latter are particularly vital, forming the cornerstone of successful business partnerships.

It’s important to bear in mind the old adage that, as Bob Burg put it, “People buy from people that they know, like and trust.” This is why nothing can replace a free-flowing conversation with an experienced sales representative who can build a rapport and identify a prospect’s problems.

Telemarketing agencies which specialise in appointment setting can provide a helping hand, supplying you with the kind of background information and insight you’ll need when meeting a potential client, so that you have a fully fleshed-out understanding of their specific situation.

Uncovering pain points

One of the most important aspects of B2B sales is working out where the client’s main pain points are. This is crucial to understanding their needs and the challenges with which they’re faced – and, of course, it enables you to suggest specific solutions for them.

But to actually uncover those pain points, it often takes a skilled sales representative to listen to what the prospect is saying and pick up on certain hints or clues. This may involve a strategic set of questions, tailored to encourage the potential client to open up about their situation.

This is an aspect of the process that simply can’t be automated away. An expert sales rep – by asking the right questions and following up on the right points – can draw information out of a prospective client in ways that AI can’t, which is exactly why they’re worth their weight in gold.

The importance of perseverance

Closing B2B deals can often be a complicated business. There may be numerous different aspects to them, which can make the process quite a long-winded one; it may take months, and several meetings, to finally convince a client to put pen to paper.

Therefore, perseverance may well prove to be the key to success, thrashing out the details and really going over the needs of a particular client before the deal is done. This is just another reason why the skills of a human sales rep in appointment setting are so indispensable in these situations.

In addition, there are those instances where a deal seems close, with the prospect apparently ready to sign, only for something to arise at the last minute and cause them to back out. It takes diligence, persistence and intuition to rescue deals in such situations – and only human reps can give you all that.

Clients do appreciate it when you go the extra mile to understand what they’re about and what they’re looking to achieve. For all their advantages, algorithms can’t really dig deep in this way and really get to the nitty gritty – which can make a huge difference in getting deals over the line.

Understanding the human connection

Automated software tools and artificial intelligence can do many things, but they cannot empathise. It’s this ability to form real human connections that’s so important when it comes to appointment setting, ensuring that you and your prospective clients truly understand one another.

Emotional intelligence is a central part of appointment setting and is crucial to B2B sales in general. It requires the ability to network and strike up a rapport with potential clients, building up the kind of goodwill and mutual understanding which are vital precursors to lengthy and successful partnerships.

Needless to say, this is not a strong point for algorithms, which are reliant on whatever data is fed into them. Of course, data is also incredibly important – but it has to serve as a complement to human empathy and understanding, not as a replacement or substitute for it.

At Bollin Green, our B2B sales expertise means we can set appointments with the right prospects, understanding the challenges they’re facing and their key pain points. Get in touch with us today to find out more about our appointment setting services and how they can benefit your business.

Joe Green

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