There is nothing worse than showing up for an appointment with a targeted prospect to only have them not be there. After all the time and energy you spent identifying and reaching the decision maker, you don’t want that wasted on a no-show. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, last minute crises do occur and you’re likely at the bottom of their priority list for the day. And sometimes the prospect forgets—but there are ways to increase the probability of success.
Email a meeting invite. After scheduling the appointment, immediately email a meeting invite confirming the date, time and location agreed upon. This will guarantee it will go on all attendees’ calendars, making it less likely for them to forget. And if they don’t accept the invite, it alerts you to get back in touch and remind them to do so.
Ask who else should be attending? Assuming you are meeting with the sole decision-maker isn’t good enough. Ask who else would benefit by attending the meeting. Sometimes you need to probe a little bit here, but the upside potential of including more buying influences is significant.
Contract for their time with realistic expectations. Tell the prospective client how much time you will need beforehand so they can allocate accordingly. Always stick to this. If you ask for 30 minutes, then start wrapping up your appointment prior to that deadline. Look at your watch, or iPhone, and say, “I see we are approaching the half hour mark that I contracted for, do you have any further questions?” Let them ask you to extend beyond that, don’t just assume it is okay even when it’s going well.
Seed in advance of your appointment. While you don’t want to tip your hand, it’s a good idea to provide some foreshadowing. Email a link to a blog that you wrote, that enhances your brand or position. Send an analysis of their current marketing plan, which will demonstrate that you’ve taken the time to do your homework. Or send general information on how their industry, as a whole, is marketing itself. Don’t make it about your product or service, but focus on how other businesses have had success working with you and entice them to learn more about these successes.
Schedule a virtual meeting 48 hours prior to your appointment. This allows you to send a reminder, as well as ensure they will be prepared to join you online with the meeting access code. Make certain to be online at least 10 minutes prior to the scheduled start time to set-up your PowerPoint and prepare what you plan to share on your screen.
Confirm the day before. Conceivably this can be perceived as giving the prospect an out, but if you have done your job in contracting for their time, and establishing value in the mind of the prospect, then it is the professional and confident thing to do.
Be punctual. Plan for delays, and give yourself enough of a window to arrive on-time. First impressions can be adversely affected by a late arrival. At the same time, don’t wait indefinitely for the client to see you. If you have a scheduled time, then barring an emergency, you should expect to be seen no later than 15 minutes after that time. Your time is valuable, too and it would serve you better to ask for the appointment to be rescheduled, than to sit in the waiting room too long.
In the event, that the prospect does cancel or stand you up, maintain your composure and try to get back on their calendar as quickly as possible. Guilt is good.
Theresa Merrill is the Director of Business Development for Anovick Associates. She has more than 20 years of sales and marketing experience in NY, Boston and Atlanta working for Katz Communications, CBS, Tribune and Cablevision and can be reached at 201.444.2991 or by e-mail email@example.com
Developing Potential, Producing Results