If you’ve been in business or sales for a significant time, you likely recognize the terms “lead generation” and “appointment setting.” Sales professionals know that these are two critical steps in the sales process.
Although they are both sales-related terms, these words mean two very different things and serve vastly different functions in the sales process. In the rest of this guide, you’ll learn the definition of each term, how lead generation and appointment setting work, the key differences between them, and how you can leverage both for business success.
What Is Lead Generation and How Does It Work?
A qualified lead voluntarily submits their contact information to a business, typically signifying their interest. To what degree they are interested varies, of course. For a sales professional, this means that they have the potential to become a prospect who is interested in purchasing their product or service.
Lead generation, then, is the act of finding and collecting contact information from these potential customers to turn them into prospects and eventually, paying customers. This is typically accomplished through marketing and can work in any number of ways, including content marketing, social media campaigns, and even telemarketing. You can use a contact form on your website to capture a lead’s interest and critical information.
What Is Appointment Setting and What Does It Involve?
While lead generation generally kicks off the sales process, appointment setting happens toward the bottom of the sales funnel. Instead of trying to get people to give you their contact information, you are creating an opportunity to make a sales pitch to a prospect you have spent time nurturing.
By the time you are asking a person to set an appointment with you to demonstrate the value of your product or service, you have likely spoken with them several times and have verified that they are a decision maker in their company with access to funds to pay for your product or service.
In that way, appointment setting is very simple: you qualify and cultivate a lead, persuade them to put a sales appointment on the calendar, attend the appointment, make your pitch, and follow up afterward.
What Are the Main Differences Between Lead Generation and Appointment Setting?
These two activities are undoubtedly related, but they are not the same. The following section will cover the four key differences between lead generation and appointment setting.
Lead generation and appointment setting have totally different goals. With lead generation, the goal is to get a person interested enough in your product or service to become a prospect. The goal of appointment setting is to get someone who is already a prospect to set a date for a product demonstration or sales pitch. The latter involves a little more persuasion since the stakes are higher for the customer.
Lead generation and appointment setting leverage two different strategies. Lead generation typically happens through your company’s marketing efforts, which may encompass social media, website content, and paid ads. On the other hand, appointment setting involves picking up the phone and talking to the prospect to encourage them to see the product up close.
The purpose and expected outcome of lead generation and appointment setting differ. You generate leads to find new potential customers; the expected outcome is that those leads become interested in your offer. However, you set appointments to make a sales pitch, expecting the prospect you have nurtured to buy your product or service.
The amount of influence you have with a potential customer is different when you are generating a lead versus setting an appointment. Leads are interested in your general niche, but it’s unlikely that you could get them to buy anything from you at that stage. Once you have set an appointment, you have spent time building a relationship with that prospect and have much more influence over their buying decisions.
Leveraging Lead Generation and Appointment Setting for End-to-End Sales Success
Lead generation and appointment setting are like two sides of the same coin. While they may look different and occupy different places in your funnel, they are both integral parts of the sales process. There is no point in generating leads without appointment setting since you won’t have anything to offer them. Without lead generation, there won’t be any prospects and therefore, no appointments to set.
As you look for ways to improve sales in your business, keep these key differences in mind. Make sure you create a sales process that makes sense and is focused on guiding consumers through their buying decisions. When you commit to improving all aspects of your funnel — lead generation and appointment setting included — you are setting yourself and your team up for great success.