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Telemarketing vs Appointment Setting

Telemarketing vs Appointment Setting

By Justin Laju

Telemarketing vs Appointment Setting

Telemarketing has been around for a long time. It’s a survivor, because it works.

Businesses from almost every industry use Telemarketing in whatever form suits their business and marketing approach.

Appointment Setting is still classified as a form of Telemarketing. So, what is the difference between Telemarketing & Appointment Setting?


Telemarketing (Noun): The marketing of goods or services by means of telephone calls, typically unsolicited, to potential customers.
Appointment Setting (Compound Noun): Telemarketing conducted to generate and arrange qualified sales meetings.

So, the definitions are straight forward enough. But, what is the difference between Telemarketing & Appointment Setting from a business perspective?

How does Appointment Setting differ from conventional telemarketing from the experiential standpoint of the business owner undertaking the marketing?

How is Appointment Setting experienced and received from the standpoint of the end prospect?

How does Appointment Setting differ in terms of Return on Investment (ROI), Market Perception and Awareness?

These are all common questions that are rarely asked. So, let’s take a look at “Telemarketing” and its evolved sister, “Appointment Setting”.

Market Perception to Telemarketing vs Appointment Setting

There is a stigma attached to “Telemarketing”. This came about mostly due to business to consumer (B2C) telemarketing. We’ve all been inopportunely annoyed by some off-shore telemarketer trying to sell us something we don’t  need or want. For many people “annoying callers” is the first thing they think of when they hear the word “telemarketing”.

The general public hate telemarketers because they value their own time and feel burned every time a random, useless call comes their way.

Business to business telemarketing (B2B) has a slightly better reputation. Business owners are usually less perturbed to being called than mum, dad, or your nanna will be. But, even business to business telemarketing calls can entice a mouthful of expletives from an over called business owner. The key there, though, is targeted relevance. Most business owners that dislike useless telemarketing calls will blossom when a telemarketer calls them with a proposition that they do like or need.

So, depending on the telemarketing campaign in question, perception from the target market will vary depending upon interest level. The more targeted the calls are the better the experience for the caller, the prospects, and the business owner undertaking the telemarketing.

Everyone loves being called about something they want or need. With B2B telemarketing it is much easier to target the calls to those that are most likely to have an interest in the proposition. We can target by industry, company size, geographic region, job title and so on. We can purchase targeted lists, or dynamically lead source via a number of lead generation methods.

Appointment setting takes the targeting to an even greater level. We are not just calling to inform or generally “call to action”. Telemarketing campaigns are normally about building market awareness and calling them to respond in some way, calling them to action a website visit, telephone call or purchase. With appointment setting the target is still to generate business, but we have a very defined target – to set a qualified appointment. So, how does that change the psycho-dynamic perception?

When we contact a business owner that has been specifically selected, we increase the likelihood of uncovering interest. When we call to inform and make a general “call to action” the target is clear. But the perception and how that affects return on investment can be comparatively more intangible for traditional telemarketing than it is for appointment setting.

Appointment setting still has the informative and “call to action” element. It’s not just about getting appointments. Every time that a targeted and qualified prospect is called and it’s not the right time for them to accept an appointment, a seed is sewn. They know about you now, and can call you to mind next time the need arises for your product or service. And yet the perception conjured with an appointment setting call is very different to a conventional telemarketing call. The informative and “call to action” element is secondary to the experience, it seeps it way into the consciousness while the focus seems to be on the appointment.

There is something within people that is more enticed by an appointment setting proposition than just another call to tell them about x company. If executed correctly, appointment setting will focus the prospect. We make them focus very specifically on three things: Their level of interest, the best time & date to meet, and do they qualify?. With this level of specificity and focus, the prospect feels more catered to than with a informative telemarketing call. The prospect doesn’t even perceive it as telemarketing because the degree of relevance and the professionalism make it a useful, value-adding, business conversation.

Return on Investment (ROI) with Telemarketing vs Appointment Setting

Conventional telemarketing has a number of methods for predicting and determining the return on investment. Depending on the number and diversity of other marketing channels being utilised, the actual return may be less tangible than desired. If telemarketing is the only form of marketing undertaken then we can easily determine the results, but that is not usually the case.

With appointment setting we can calculate the exact short and medium term return of a campaign based on the number of appointments set, the sales converted, and the financial investment made. The long term return is less perhaps tangible. There is also the spill over effect of prospects not initially accepting appointments returning to your business in the future based on the introduction that was made.

So appointment setting is very direct, active, and focused and yet still acts as a form of “call to action” building market awareness.

But, the most useful aspect of appointment setting when viewed for its return on investment profile is the short term tangibility. Appointment setting will show the marketer exactly what they are returning on their investment, which is exceptionally important for smaller budget marketing. Small business owners, with smaller budgets, usually need to make positive returns early to make marketing sustainable. If we can set them qualified appointments that are converting, or at least putting their business in a good position to convert sales, then the ball can keep rolling. With appointment setting, the business owner or marketing manager can assess the number of appointments. They can evaluate the quality of the prospects, and they know exactly how many sales conversions were returned.

Appointment setting is far more predictable, which allows for far more attainable projections. We can generally know how many appointments per hour will be set, depending on the market interest and saturation level of the particular product or service.


Appointment setting is an evolved form of telemarketing. Appointment setting is far more active and focused, and it frames the prospects mind more specifically.

Appointment setting is far easier with regards to tracking return on investment (ROI) – you know what you invest and you know the immediate return based on the appointments procured, sales converted, and what they are “worth” to you. Marketers achieve tangible new business appointments rather than open expectations of new business.

An appointment setting call is also far more likely to be welcomed as a useful business conversation, rather being perceived as just another self-serving telemarketing call.

Appointment setting does all of this and still maintains the informative and “call to action” elements of conventional telemarketing.


Justin Laju is the Principal at Appointment Setter.

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