One of the KPIs I look at when analyzing inside sales effectiveness is the percentage of leads that don’t show up for the initial sales call. Common theory places the blame on the inside rep for not doing their job properly and, while I have written blogs about how inside reps can negatively effect your no show rate, I feel that the inside reps sometimes take too much of the heat.  In fact, I would argue that a good amount of the time the sales rep is just as much to blame for no shows. Here are 3 things sales reps do that lead to a good prospect blowing off the discovery call.

1. You booked an hour long initial meeting: Question – When you first meet someone, why do you not go away with them for a weekend?  Answer – Because you want to make sure they aren’t a serial killer before you start hanging around with them.  On the same (yet much softer) note, your prospect doesn’t want to give an hour to someone that they don’t know at all yet.  Sales Person“Well if they are really interested they’ll take an hour to talk to us”.  I agree 100%.  The thing you are doing wrong is booking an hour of time for a first conversation.  No one wants to make that commitment.  Even if they do initially accept the meeting, once Wednesday at 1:50pm hits and their phone beeps saying they have an hour long meeting with a sales person, they are going to think “I’m too busy.  I don’t have an hour. I’ll rebook”.  Book your initial meetings for 30 minutes.  Even VPs and C-levels can squeeze in 30 minutes.  On your own calendar keep 1 hour open.  Chances are the meeting will go more than 30 minutes, but requesting more than that right away is too much.

2. You booked a demo: I’m going to keep this really straightforward and I apologize for being gruff, but first meeting demos usually suck and are seen as expendable.  “Man I’m slammed today. I need to cut something out, but what? Wait…what’s this? A 30 slide webx about (XYZ) company and what it means to me… Problem solved”.  I love being on a discovery call and telling my audience that we are going to have a conversation and not a demo.  You literally hear the relief in their voices.  Start off by giving your pitch and then having a conversation.  I’m not saying demos are bad.  I’m saying starting off with a demo is bad. Quick side note; this is how I envision most first call demos going:

Sales rep: Hi everyone and thanks for joining me. I’d like to start our demo and go right into the histo……
Prospect: Okay let’s get some emails done.

3. You included most of your company to the meeting: Remember, you are trying to be inviting and non-threatening to the prospect. How do you feel about a meeting if you’re expecting a back and forth conversation with one person only to click the invite and see the organizer has invited a small village to the party?  To quote Anchor Man, “Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean, that really got out of hand fast!”.  Inviting your whole team right away is like inviting someone to meet the entire family (even weird Uncle Bill) on the first date.  It is very intimidating.  Also, how much can the meeting be about your prospect if you brought in a conference room full of people all with something to say?

Take a look at your no show report (if you don’t have one then that’s a whole other thing) and see if there are any sales mistakes like the ones above.  Don’t put a ton of stock into the email reasons the prospect sent as to why they didn’t show up.  I can give you those now.

1 – Previous meeting ran over
2 – Had to leave the office unexpectedly
3 – Had to put out some fires in the office (not literally)
4 – (My favorite) “I’m up to my eyeballs in alligators!”

Look at how the meeting was set up initially.  While there absolutely are cases when our contacts have to cancel last minute, there are often times when the meeting would have been a lot more appealing to them and less likely to be canceled.