I was listening to a group of business people discussing how frequently they have set up phone meetings with someone only to result in a “no show”.
Telephone appointments are just as important, valuable and critical to your business as face to face meetings. So what do you do when you had a planned phone call with a prospect or client and they don’t’ show up?
As a business sales coach I spend a lot of time working with clients and prospects on the phone and there is nothing more frustrating than missed calls. The customer got busy, they forgot, something else came up and you are now stuck with an hour of non-billable time.
Here are 5 steps that I have found considerably reduce the number of no shows and cancellations. I find that most of the problems can be avoided with these simple tactics.
- Always book your phone meetings into your calendar and send out an invitation to the guest so you both have it documented.
- Send a reminder notice 24 hours before the meeting. It should only contain a reminder to attend. Do not give the person an option to reschedule. If you do you have just given a “disorganized” person the opportunity to cancel. The purpose of the reminder is to make sure the meeting happens, not the other way around.
- Arrange the meeting so you are the person calling your guest. This allows you to control the timing instead of waiting by the phone until 10 or 15 minutes after the appointed time before you realize something is wrong and your guest is going to miss the meeting.
- At exactly the time the meeting is scheduled to start you will call the other person. Not 3 or 5 minutes later. If your meeting is scheduled for 10am then call them at 10am.
- Here is the critical step that will turn an almost missed meeting into one that happens. When you call if you do not reach the person immediately you are going to leave the following message:
“Hi ________; This is Bob Weese, we are supposed to have our meeting now to discuss ____________. I’m sorry I missed you and I know this is important for both of our schedules. I have blocked out the next __ minutes for our call and I’m waiting for your call back so we can get started. My number is 905-555-1111. I’ll keep my line free for your call back. Once again my number is 905-555-1111. Thank you
Notice in my message I did not suggest that we reschedule the call at a later time/date. If I had given them that option I know it would take another few days or weeks before we can rebook the meeting and the same thing may happen again.
Your message is letting the other person know that you also have a busy schedule and you respect their time and it implies that they should respect yours.
I find that 9 times out of 10, I get a call back almost immediately and the meeting goes ahead as planned. In the odd case that they call back and must re-schedule we are able to set and new time and date immediately. No playing phone tag or email tag.
Try this technique and you will find that your “no shows” for meetings will be greatly reduced. It works for me and my clients and it will work for you.
Robert J Weese
Professional Speaker, Author, Sales Coach