Far more goes into the appointment setting process than merely sending an email or picking up the phone and dialing a prospect. That sort of one-touch prospecting is neither effective or scalable.

To be successful over the long term, your team needs to follow a well-defined path. This guide outlines that path with the recognition that leads are human beings with pain points who are more likely to respond to a personal approach.

Here are the steps:

1. Identify a reason to connect

2. Develop your playbook

3. Compile a lead list

4. Import leads into your outreach tool

5. Conduct outreach

6. Enter data into your CRM

7. Build and review reports

8. Nurture prospects

Now, let’s look closely at each step.

1. Identify a reason to connect

Sales shouldn’t be like throwing darts at a huge dart board. What you want to do is to make that dart board as small as possible so more darts will have a better chance of hitting the bullseye. First, you must have a reason to connect with a prospect that will make them want to engage with you. This stage requires a bit of research to pull off effectively.

What you are doing now is creating a theme for your campaign. For instance, you might have a widely recognized client like Target, and you are doing great things for them. So, your theme might be to go after other big-box retailers by building a campaign around the argument that because you are doing so well with Target, you can do the same or better for your prospect.

Alternatively, you might have a technology that works very well with another technology such as Hubspot. After researching to find companies that use Hubspot, you can communicate to them that you are a Hubspot partner and your technology is proven to help Hubspot users achieve their objectives.

You can also create a campaign theme around inbound leads from people who have visited your website. Not everyone who visits your site will give you their contact information in exchange for an informative download. However, you can use a service like Albacross which identifies visitors to your site and gives you their contact information.

Whatever your theme is, it must offer a viable reason to connect. It’s your theme that helps you prioritize who to reach out to.

2. Develop your playbook

Your playbook contains the content or messaging you will share with prospects. It should be as engaging as possible. When you try to connect with someone, it’s ineffective to simply say, “Here’s a laundry list of the things we offer. Let’s meet so I can sell you something.” What you want to do instead is to give some value to your prospect that will engage them and help them do their job better. So, get as creative as you can get.

To best assemble your playbook, identify the pains of your ideal client or customer as well as the value propositions that will capture the attention of that client or customer. With these two things in mind, you can begin to craft the content, scripts, and templates you need to start a discussion about “Why us?” and “Why now?”

For example, you can share an explainer video that details the benefits of using your product or service. Instead of adding a couple of paragraphs of text to an email, you can humanize your brand by including a link to a video that is an authentic way of introducing yourself and explaining your value proposition in 30 seconds. Alternatively, you can share a customer case study that serves as an example of the results you can get for your prospect. Or, you might have a helpful webinar that you could link to in your email or promote on LinkedIn.

Whatever content is in your playbook, be sure that you personalize it to each prospect. Add personalized fields for the prospect’s name and company to every email. Moreover, make the rest of your message as customized as possible.

3. Compile a lead list

Once you have your theme and your playbook in place, it’s time to compile a list of leads. Remember that this list of leads must be tied to your theme. If your theme focuses on big-box retailers, then your list must be composed of contacts at big-box retailers.

Use a tool like ZoomInfo to source your list of email addresses. Then, to add an extra level of validation, use a tool like NeverBounce or Email Hippo to clean your list. These tools will show you what the estimated bounce rate is and identify emails that are invalid so you can remove them from your list and protect your messages from being flagged as spam.

4. Import leads to your outreach tool

This stage requires a bit of administrative work. Now is when you take the list of cleaned leads and add them to a sales automation tool such as Salesvue which works seamlessly with Salesforce.

5. Conduct outreach

Before you can conduct your outreach, you need to decide on a contact cadence. Ideally, you will map this out in your outreach tool so that each step is automated. Here is a hypothetical contact cadence:

Day 1: Email 1 with an explainer video

Day 5: Email 2 with white paper

Day 7: LinkedIn connection request

Day 9: Email 3 with thought leadership content

Day 11: Call to ask for a meeting

Day 13: Email 4 with a case study

Day 15: Call to ask for a meeting

Day 17: LinkedIn message

Day 20: Email 5 opt-in request

6. Enter data into your CRM

To optimize your sales efforts, you want to use your CRM to track everything you do. The CRM will keep a record of data points such as email opens and clicks. You need to add information relating to the conversations you’ve had with your prospects. With all this information in one place, it will be easy to see where each prospect is in your sales funnel.

No one “enjoys” data entry, and many might even consider it to be a waste of time. However, the truth is that inputting your data, and inputting it accurately, will save time and resources in the future. Remember, the adage “garbage in, garbage out” applies here. To keep your database accurate, be sure to add data in real time, or as close to real time as possible. This means jotting down notes right after you’ve had a conversation with a prospect.

7. Build and review reports

One of the real values of using a powerful CRM is to have access to reports. Those reports support your ability to analyze and determine the success of your appointment setting efforts.

Two key metrics to keep an eye on are the number of appointments set and the number of appointments completed every month. You want to make sure that the number of appointments set supports the number of leads you require each month to achieve your sales goals. Also, tracking the number of completed appointments gives you the number of no-shows and reschedules. If you notice a substantial amount of appointment set but very few completed, that may reflect a problem in your game plan or a lack of genuine interest in your product or service.

Other metrics to watch involve the appointment’s contribution to the sales pipeline. You want to know the number of touches per prospect so that you can have a ballpark idea of how many times you need to contact a prospect. This helps you validate the length of your cadence. You also want to know how many touches it takes, and how many days it takes, to set an appointment. These two metrics help you understand how long your sales cycle is.

8. Nurture prospects

Of course, not every prospect that is interested in your product or service is ready to close a deal. Likewise, there are only so many times you should reach out to cold leads. This is why you should provide several opportunities for a lead to opt-in to you continuing to contact them. Perhaps you can attempt to obtain their permission by recommending to them that they download a case study or a white paper. Or, they can watch a webinar for which they must register.

Optimize and repeat

Having completed all the steps, you now have an efficient and effective appointment setting process. The things to do going forward is to optimize and repeat. As you learn more from your reports, you will be able to better align sales and marketing and focus your time on a select few leads instead of spreading your resources equally across all of them. This will help you orchestrate a coordinated program of communication with the people who matter most to your sales cycle and enable you to close more deals.