What Are the Differences Between Lead Generation and Appointment Setting Services?

While many people put lead generation and appointment setting services under the same umbrella, they have some notable differences.
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Some people are into cucumbers, others are into pickles. Heck, you may even be a huge fan of them both! But you can’t get pickles without cucumbers, right?

Well, the same can be said for lead generation and appointment setting services. Like cucumbers and pickles, you can have lead generation without appointment setting, but you can’t have appointment setting without lead generation. And when it comes down to it, choosing a business growth solution depends on your personal preferences. 

But enough about pickles and cucumbers—let’s jump into it. In this blog, we’ll cover the following:

Definition of Lead Generation

Lead generation is a business growth strategy meant to pique the interest of potential buyers in your target market. Sales and marketing teams often use lead generation services that include inbound marketing tactics like: 

  • Using search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Writing user-focused content on digital platforms
  • Creating engaging sales enablement assets
  • Sending lead-nurturing email campaigns 
  • Promoting targeted ads 


Lead generation is only the beginning of the sales journey for interested buyers. Once interested buyers submit their contact information (including their name, company size, email address, phone number, etc.), they’re brought into the sales pipeline. From here, the sales lead is cleansed and nurtured until they’re ready to make a purchase or set up a meeting with one of your salespeople. If the lead doesn’t meet your company’s ideal customer profile, they’re moved out of the sales pipeline so your sales development representatives (SDRs) can prioritize qualified leads.

Definition of Appointment Setting

Appointment setting is a B2B lead generation process focused on outbound marketing tactics to build relationships and set sales appointments with potential buyers. 

Through a qualified appointment setting process, SDRs and other appointment setters connect with prospective businesses (most commonly through cold emailing and calling). Then, they pitch your company’s product or service offerings and aim to set a high-quality sales appointment between the business and a member of your sales team.

During sales meetings set by appointment setters, you and your business development team can present a personalized pitch deck to a verified key decision maker (KDM), encouraging them to close business with your company.

What Does an Appointment Setter Do?

The main goal of an appointment setter is to schedule appointments with KDMs who meet your ideal customer profile. However, they’re much more than appointment setters—they’re also sales prospecting and lead generation experts.

Appointment setters follow a strategic sales process to ensure that each qualified lead in the sales pipeline completes each stage of the buyer’s journey. It goes a little something like this: 

  • Prospecting: During the prospecting phase, appointment setters or sales data analysts find potential buyers your company would consider doing business with. These potential buyers can be found through search engines, social media, or company databases like ZoomInfo or D&B Hoovers.
  • Qualifying: Appointment setters convert prospects into leads through a lead qualifying process. They qualify leads by gathering information like the KDM’s name, title, email address, direct phone line, number of full-time employees, and more. Every company has its own lead qualification criteria that appointment setters must follow to secure sales appointments that could result in ROI.
  • Nurturing: Unfortunately, not every initial cold call or email results in a sales appointment. A KDM will likely need to do their own research to build trust in your company before they agree to a meeting. Appointment setters nurture leads in the sales pipeline by building relationships and establishing top-of-mind awareness. When the KDM is ready to make a purchase, appointment setters can reach them at the right time.
  • Setting appointments: As mentioned above, an appointment setter’s end goal is to arrange sales appointments with qualified leads. Once an appointment setter finds qualified leads, they nurture the relationship over time until they’re at the end of their sales cycle.


Biggest Differentiators of Lead Gen and Appointment Setting

Now that we understand what lead generation and appointment setting services are, what actually makes them different from each other? The three biggest differentiators between lead generation and appointment setting services are:

  • The Goals of Your Business Growth Strategy
  • The Lead Generation Strategy
  • The Process

The Goals of Your Business Growth Strategy

Every business growth strategy has a goal, but the approaches to reaching that goal are different with lead generation and appointment setting

When it comes to lead generation, the overarching goal is to get your company’s brand in front of consumers. Ideally, if the potential customer sees content they like, they’ll share their information and be integrated into the sales pipeline. From there, your company follows up with the potential customer on a routine basis and encourages them to reach the end of the sales cycle. 

On the other hand, the goal of appointment setting is to convert prospects into leads, a process known as sales prospecting. While they may meet your ideal customer criteria, they may not be interested in your company’s offerings. Over time, sales reps can nurture relationships with leads and learn more about their current B2B product or service solution. And when they’re ready to make a purchase, sales reps will be able to reach out at the right time.

The Lead Generation Strategy

A lead generation strategy reaches potential buyers and encourages them to share their information in a submission form on your website or landing page. Once they do so, they’re integrated into the sales pipeline. 

From here, their data is directed to the sales and marketing teams to decide what they want to do with the information. If the lead is qualified, they’ll probably be followed up via warm call or email. If the lead is not qualified, they may be suspended from the sales pipeline and not followed up with.

When it comes to an appointment setting strategy, appointment setters only contact and nurture leads that meet the company’s ideal customer criteria. Sales reps call or email leads to present them with valuable insight or sales enablement materials that encourage them to set a sales appointment.

The Process

And lastly, lead generation and appointment setting services have differing processes. The lead generation process involves creating and sharing content that aligns with your target audience’s interests and buyer personas. With a strong enough lead generation strategy, potential buyers will feel inclined to give you their information to learn more about your company and what you have to offer them.

On the other hand, the appointment setting process looks a little different. While the process may be straightforward, it’s definitely not easy. To generate leads, appointment setters must first set the sales appointment. Then, you or your internal sales team can attend the meeting, present a convincing pitch deck, and negotiate with the lead to close business.

Key Takeaways

Like our tastes in food (such as cucumbers vs. pickles), we all have preferences—and lead generation and appointment setting services are no different. Each company has its own level of comfort when it comes to business growth, and you really can’t go wrong with either approach. However, when you take advantage of both business growth efforts, you have the opportunity to accelerate your pipeline.

At Sapper Consulting, we integrate both lead generation and appointment setting services for our clients. Our email marketing experts are well-equipped to craft the perfect sales emails for leads in the sales pipeline, guiding them to the end of the sales cycle. When you’re ready to enhance your lead generation and appointment setting efforts, contact the specialists at Sapper Consulting!

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About The Author

About Sapper Consulting

Sapper's sales prospecting team becomes a natural extension of your existing sales efforts, helping you find new leads that are a great fit for your business.

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