Avoid Sales No-shows with These 8 Tips
It's Monday morning, and you're about to attend a sales meeting with a major prospect. You take a deep breath and log into your Zoom call, silently rehearsing your sales pitch.
You're excited, but the happy little butterflies in your stomach begin fluttering away with every passing minute. Why? Because it looks like your "major prospect" is a complete no-show.
You hang on for a bit longer to ensure the prospect didn't misremember your meeting time. Deep down, though, you know you've been stood up. Again. Ugh…
Yes, no-shows are a normal part of the sales process, but that doesn't make them any less infuriating. Especially when they happen regularly. Does that sound like you? Then you've come to the right place, my friend!
Understanding No-shows and How They Affect Your Business
First off, what's a no-show?
Maybe they forgot about your Zoom. Maybe they had an emergency and couldn't take your phone call. Whatever the reason, the prospect officially earns no-show status.
Every sales rep has to deal with the occasional no-show. As long as they don't happen to your sales team regularly, you should be fine. Even so, no-shows can extend sales cycles, or even put deals at risk, which is why every salesperson should work to avoid them.
Why People No-show to Sales Meetings
Soon, I’ll share eight tips you can use to minimize no-shows. But before we get to that, let's talk about why they happen in the first place.
There are two main reasons:
- Emergencies: Having a “zero” no-show rate is impossible because... Life. Unexpected crises happen. When they arise, they often make it inconvenient or impossible to meet. Unfortunately, you can't really get around these situations.
- Priorities: More often than not, no-shows are the result of prioritization. Sometimes this is intentional; other times, it’s accidental. Either way, your prospect decided something else was more important to them than your sales call. The good news is you have almost full control over your priority level with a prospect.
Know Your No-show Rate
Think you’ve got a no-show problem? Let’s confirm that. What’s your no-show rate?
Most people have no idea. If that’s you, don't worry. A quick way to calculate it is to divide your total number of no-shows by your total number of scheduled meetings.
For example, if you had 50 sales appointments scheduled for last month and 15 were no-shows, your no-show rate would be 30 percent (15 / 50 = .30 or 30 percent).
The question is, how many no-shows are too many? That depends on which stage of the sales funnel your no-shows happen:
- Top-of-funnel no-shows: No-shows at the top of the funnel are prospects you’ve just met. If you do a lot of outbound prospecting, no-shows are a fact of life. But, as a general rule, your no-show rate at this stage of the funnel should never exceed 20 percent.
- Bottom-of-funnel no-shows: No-shows at the bottom of the funnel are those you’ve already invested substantial time and energy into. You've pitched them, managed their objections, and done everything else you can to schedule them for a meeting. Last-minute cancellations and no-shows at this stage are bad news. As another general rule, your bottom-of-funnel no-show rates should never exceed 10 percent.
The Cost of No-shows
No-shows aren't just a major bummer. They cost your company—either monetarily, opportunity-wise, or emotionally. Let's take a closer look at each of these costs:
- Monetary costs: No-shows leads to lost deals. After all, if the prospect can't be bothered to attend a sales meeting, they won't be bothered to buy anything from you either. The result? Missed quotas and underwhelming revenue numbers.
- Opportunity costs: It gets worse. Prospect no-shows cost your company money because the deals your reps think they will close never happen. But they also cost your company time—time your reps could have spent with other potential buyers.
- Emotional costs: Lastly, no-shows can seriously affect a salesperson's morale. Your reps work hard to generate quality leads, start meaningful conversations, and book sales appointments. Having nothing to show for all that effort is depressing.
8 Scheduling Tips to Encourage Prospects to Show Up
It's easy to blame every no-show on the prospect. How dare they, right?
But more often than not, the salesperson deserves the lion’s share of the blame. The scheduling process you implement influences the likelihood of no-shows and cancellations.
Think of said scheduling process as a sales pitch. Manage their objections first (we created a free objection management template to help!) Then offer an irresistible value proposition that gets your prospects pumped for your product and meeting.
Here are eight sales tips to help you make it happen:
1. Own Responsibility for Scheduling
It’s not the prospect’s responsibility to buy. It’s the salesperson’s responsibility to sell.
Many sales reps claim to know this, then delegate all scheduling responsibility to the prospect, ending their sales emails with something like, “Let me know when you can connect.”
With a sign-off like that, you’ll probably never hear from them again. Why? Because making that decision is too much pressure, so they’ll put it off until they forget about it.
Instead of delegating responsibility, take full ownership of scheduling with a clear call-to-action. This call-to-action should communicate the following three things:
- Meeting times: Offer at least two different options to your prospect. If neither works, ask for alternatives. (Always include the length of the meeting as well.)
- Value: Explain what the prospect will get out of the meeting. Why is it worth their time? What are you going to accomplish? These things should be made clear.
- Medium: Where will the meeting take place? In-person? Over the phone? Via Skype?
As a sales professional, the entirety of the sales process is your responsibility. If you start delegating control now, you’ll never get it back. The right tools can help with this.
Scheduling apps make it easy for prospects to book sales meetings. Better yet, Close offers native integrations with scheduling tools like SavyCal and Calendly! This means newly booked meetings will automatically show up in your CRM with no data entry required.
2. Be Respectful (and Use Common Sense)
It doesn’t matter what or who you’re selling to. Certain days and times suck for meetings. Use your noggin and stop scheduling sales meetups around these times:
- Monday mornings: Monday can get a little crazy. If prospects have to choose between your phone call and starting an important project, you're going to lose.
- Friday afternoons: Your prospects have one thing on their mind: wrapping up work and getting to the weekend ASAP—not your sales meeting.
- Holidays and vacations: The days immediately before or after a holiday/vacation are super busy. Your prospects will not prioritize your meeting over their time off.
The problem is most prospects don’t realize these things.
They’ll gladly schedule with you at the times above. But, when your meeting rolls around, they’ll probably no-show in favor of something or someone else. Don't give them this chance.
Only schedule meetings (or allow prospects to schedule meetings with you if you use a scheduling app like Calendly) on days prospects are likely to attend.
One more thing: don't schedule sales meetings for the distant future. Whenever possible, schedule them 14 days or less in advance. If that's not possible, skip the meeting altogether. Then agree to touch base at a later date and have another look at your calendar.
The truth is: distant meetings are a recipe for disaster. Your prospects might forget about the meeting. Or worse, forget about you. If these things happen, a no-show is all but guaranteed.
3. Set Follow-up Appointments ASAP
You’re on the phone with a prospect with their full attention. Why end the call with a comment like, “I’ll email you once we’re off the phone so we can book a meeting.”
Best case scenario: you send an email within 15 minutes. But even after 15 minutes, much of your prospect’s excitement has deteriorated because they’ve moved on to other tasks.
So why wait? If you’ve got them on the phone, schedule something then and there. Send the calendar invite while they’re still on the line.
When you do this, try to be as specific as possible. If you say, "What's a good time for you to circle back next week?" the prospect will think, "This sounds like more work…"
Instead, include a specific reason why they should schedule the follow-up call with you. In other words, give them the ol' "what's in it for me" routine. For example, you can say:
- “I'll contact our technical team to see if you can integrate our solution with Shopify, then follow-up with you next week. When's a good time for us to do this?”
- “I'll discuss your case with my manager and structure a few deals that might work for your team. When's a good time next Thursday for another call to discuss this?”
- “You asked about [insert question or pain point]. I'll find the answers for you, and then we can discuss next week. When's a good time for you to get on another call?”
This way, people are more likely to say yes to your request and actually show up when the call comes. Bonus points if you then include that reason in your calendar invite.
4. Turn Calendar Invites Into Sales Pitches
Speaking of calendar invites, have you optimized yours to reduce your no-show rates? Probably not, which means they're boring with a capital B. You need to jazz 'em up a bit.
Instead of simple reminders, think of your calendar invites as sales emails.
Kick the same old titles like "Demo" to the curb and try something inspired like:
- "30 minutes to decide your next CRM"
- "Deciding if Close is the right fit"
- "Exploring Close’s CRM capabilities"
But don’t stop with the title. You can also use the notes section as a mini-pitch for the event. Here are three things to include in your event notes:
- Contact information: Include your name, company, website, and communication medium (including your phone number/Skype username and who will call whom.)
- Agenda: Share the various action items you will accomplish at this meeting.
- Value: Explain the value the prospect will receive once you hit each action item on the list. What are they getting out of this exchange with you?
Your calendar event should be a mini sales pitch. That way, you don't have to actively talk with your prospect to sell them on your appointment and/or your products.
Calendar invites are great, but don’t assume they’re enough to get your prospect to show up. As with any part of the B2B sales process, the key to success is following up.
A few days before the meeting, contact the prospect via phone call, text message, or reminder email. Or, if your prospect prefers it, reach out on a social media site like LinkedIn.
You can send them relevant content in your follow-up, such as a recent webinar or your best case study, to get them excited about your meeting.
(Our inside sales CRM makes all of this a piece of cake. Integrated calling, emailing, and texting enable you to send reminders with a few mouse clicks.
But remember: You’re not just there to remind them of the appointment. You’re there to remind them of the value they will get out of the appointment.
Quick note: Your follow-ups shouldn’t end because your prospect was a no-show. Don’t automatically assume this person isn’t interested because they bailed on your meeting. Assume they forgot about it or had an emergency, then continue to reach out to them.
If you send eight follow-up emails and can't get a response, send the break-up email. You’ll be amazed at how many responses you get with a subject line like, “Goodbye from Close.”
6. Leverage Your Time with a Virtual Assistant
You weren’t hired to set appointments; you were hired to close deals. But the busier you get, the more often you'll get bogged down with your calendar, cutting your selling time.
If you spend more than a few hours each week on scheduling, you might want to look into a virtual assistant. They’ve become increasingly affordable over the past few years. They'll often pay for themselves as long as they allow you to close one extra deal.
This arrangement isn’t right for everyone, but it can produce high (and almost immediate) ROI.
If you're not ready to commit to a virtual assistant, don't worry. You can just invest in a killer appointment-setting tool, complete with automation.
7. Always Show Up
The example you set is the example your prospect will follow.
Even one cancellation, reschedule, or no-show is enough to tell your prospect, “There are more important things than this deal, and it’s okay if you feel that way, too.”
Nothing short of a major emergency should stand in the way of your commitments. But if something does come up, let your prospect know as soon as possible. Then make every effort to set up another meeting. For example:
Note how this email doesn’t excuse the cancellation as “no big deal.”
Instead, it clearly communicates the value that would have been generated at the meeting and offers alternate times for the prospect to receive that value.
The only reason the prospect wouldn't take you up on this offer is because they were not interested in the first place. In that case, it's good that you didn't waste your time with them.
8. Use Personalized Video
Video reminders are another great way to reduce no-shows because they help humanize the sales process. When creating yours, keep these three things in mind:
- Reiterate why the prospect was initially interested
- Tell them what they stand to gain from your meeting
- Keep your video short and to the point
Your prospects receive dozens of emails every day. Stand out from the crowd with relevant content that reminds them there's a real person—just like them—who wants to talk.
4 Strategies to Deal with Sales No-Shows
You can do everything above and still get no-shows. They're just a part of the sales process. But don't let them be the reason you miss your sales quota.
Here are four tips for dealing with sales no-shows effectively:
- Be prepared: The worst thing you can do is assume no-shows don’t happen. They do. Plan for them so that you don't suddenly have a 30 to 60-minute void in your day. This will help you maintain productivity and reach your sales targets.
- Keep it cool: I also advise against all forms of freaking out. You may want to scream at the ceiling, throw your shoe at your computer, or email your no-show prospect a few choice words. I get it, but none of these things will actually help you. Control yourself.
- Follow-up: Are you calm? Good, now send your prospect a polite email. Remind them that they had agreed to meet with you. Then suggest a new meeting time. (Note: tools like Close will help you automate follow-up messages, which is super convenient.)
- Know when to let go: Some prospects will completely ghost you. They'll no-show to your sales meeting and ignore your follow-up emails. These people were probably bad fits for your company anyway. I'd cut 'em loose after multiple attempts to reconnect.
Obliterate Your No-Show Rate
It doesn't matter why they happen, no-shows always suck.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to minimize them for yourself and/or your sales team. Own responsibility for scheduling, set follow-up appointments ASAP, use personalized videos, and implement the other tips, tricks, and best practices I outlined above.
Doing so will help you (or your reps) connect with prospective customers, close more deals, and hit quota more often. In other words, the strategies in this article will help you achieve the kind of success you work so hard for. So, get to work and let me know how it goes!