Great job! You just hung up the phone with a promising prospect that agreed to a follow-up sales meeting to learn more about your solution. At this point, the first instinct is to rejoice and celebrate a successfully generated sales opportunity, but the reality is your job is only partially done. There is a lot that can go wrong after that first call resulting in the dreaded “no-show” appointment, and it’s our job as salespeople to minimize that outcome.

When a prospect doesn’t show

On my first day working in high-tech sales I heard multiple people warn me that there’s a big “dip” in the sales learning curve. After three months of what seemed like endless forward progress and frequent success, I finally hit my dip. One particular stretch saw me generate nine sales meetings, yet only three of those appointments ended up occurring.

sales meetingsMy mind was racing as I tried to figure out what was going on. I felt embarrassed, defeated, and it even affected my level of confidence going forward as I tried to secure other leads. Every salesperson will encounter a “no-show” appointment, but when it happened to me six times in such a short span of time, I started to panic. I worried that the quota-carrying sales reps I was supporting would stop taking me seriously because, time and time again, they patiently waited on the conference line only to find no prospect on the other end (and awkward radio silence).

As world-renowned sales training expert John Costigan says, “There is no such thing as a bad customer, only a bad salesperson.” This quote specifically jumped into my head as I tried to analyze my sales tactics and figure out the reason so many potential customers were standing me up. This issue was nobody’s fault but mine. I couldn’t get angry and blame the prospect for this problem, I needed to improve my own techniques. From that point forward, I didn’t set a sales meeting unless there was a good reason for the prospect to pick up the phone and dial in. And, to make sure there was a reason, I began to change my entire follow-up process.

According to a study done by Atom Content Marketing, “80% of sales require five follow-up touches after the first conversation. 44% of salespeople give up after the first follow up.” The steps below will help you weed out weak meetings and confirm high potential prospects so you can minimize your “no-show” percentage.

A Post-Call Plan of Action

At this point, let’s assume that you’ve had the first call with your prospect, found a need or some pain points, and sent out a calendar invitation with an agreed upon time for a follow-up call.

Two days before your scheduled appointment, give the prospect a call:

“Hi (Prospect) this is Scott Steinman with (Company). I just wanted to confirm that you are still available for our scheduled call on (Date).”

There are three different outcomes after asking this question:

  1. No, I need to cancel or re-schedule.
  2. Yes, we’re still set for our scheduled call.
  3. You get voicemail.

Let’s take a look at how to handle each of these three scenarios, starting with the supposedly dreaded “No” response.

A NO now is better than a MAYBE

If the prospect cancels, you would much rather know that now, as opposed to finding out while you’re waiting on the conference line with a quota-carrying rep ready to give their presentation. Moreover, if a prospect says “no” on your confirmation call, you have a chance to salvage the situation (since they picked up the phone). After those steps, if they are still set on cancelling, you can inform your sales rep ahead of time and fill that spot with another potential meeting. Either way, you can see how there are some silver linings in a response many reps might assume is a bad result.

If the prospect cancels, you would much rather know that now, as opposed to finding out while you’re waiting on the conference line with a quota-carrying rep ready to give their presentation.

If the prospect says YES, now what do I do?

If the prospect says “Yes” and confirms your sales meeting, make sure you bring value to the few minutes you have on the phone prior to the appointment. After hearing confirmation, start using what we at memoryBlue call The Phrase that Pays. “Glad that time still works (Prospect name). In order to bring the most value to our next conversation, what specifically would you like for us to cover?”

In this situation, they will either:

  • Say nothing. This sounds like, “I’ll just get an overview during our meeting, thanks.”
  • Ask you a question.

If the prospect asks a question, you can very likely use that question to gain insight into their needs and better prepare yourself for the actual appointment.

What if I get their voicemail?

If you get the prospect’s voicemail during your pre-meeting call, try leaving them the following message:

“Hi (Prospect), this is Scott Steinman with (Company) and I’m calling to confirm we are still on for our meeting at (Date/Time). If you have any questions between now and the meeting you can reach me at (Phone Number).”

In this day and age, many people fail to frequently check their voicemail. In light of this, right after you leave your message, send the prospect a brief email. Email provides a faster and more convenient channel for the prospect to communicate with you.

SUBJECT LINE: (Prospect) – Conference Call

Hi (Prospect),

I just left you a voicemail as a reminder of our meeting at (Date/Time) regarding (Subject of Call). Please let me know if you have any questions that come up between now and our scheduled call.

I look forward to reconnecting with you soon.

Warm Regards,
Scott Steinman

It’s the morning of our scheduled call and I haven’t heard back from my prospect!

Sometimes a prospect has the full intention of attending your call, but is too busy to respond to your confirmation attempts. One huge mistake that salespeople make is reaching out too many times and killing a meeting by badgering a prospect.

If the morning of your meeting arrives and you still haven’t heard from the prospect, give them one call and, if there is no answer, do not leave them a voicemail. After you call, just send them this short email (about an hour before the call):

SUBJECT LINE: (Prospect) – (Time) Call Today

Hi (Prospect),

I look forward to reconnecting with you today at (Time). My colleague and I will be joining the conference line in about an hour. The conference line number is included in the calendar invitation I sent you, but please let me know if you have any trouble accessing the call.

Talk to you soon.

Warm Regards,
Scott Steinman

If you implement this follow through process, you will minimize the amount of “no-show” meetings and provide better quality conversations for the reps you support.

Prior to implementing my strategy, my conversion rate for cold calls into actual occurred sales meeting set was about 70%. After implementing this strategy, I started to occur about 85% of my meetings — and the other 15% I disqualified before the call occurred.

The Secret Sauce

Success in high-tech sales is attributed to tenacity, perseverance, and self-improvement. With every challenge comes a great learning experience that can help you build your sales career. Are you having trouble with “No-Show” prospects or want to improve your conversion rate? Try this strategy and see how much success you can actually achieve!