Call. Call. Call. Call. Call. Call. Call. Call. Call. Call. Call. Call. Call. Call. Call. Call. Call. Call.
I’ll save you counting—that’s 18 calls.
Not coincidentally, that is the number of dials it takes to connect with a buyer.
Easy to read, maybe, but harder for your salespeople to actually do. Those dials mean putting in time, effort, and persistence.
So, finally, your sales rep’s tenacity pays off and they book a meeting with a prospect. The big day arrives… but the buyer never does. They’re not replying to email anymore; they’re not answering the phone. That hard-earned prospect has gone MIA.
Bad news: your sales rep has been ghosted.
Why would someone say yes to a sales meeting and then just blow it off? Well, to start with, 58% of sales meetings are not valuable to buyers. And buyers are well aware of this. They view most meetings as centred on the seller’s needs, not theirs. Why would a buyer invest their precious time in something that’s not serving them?
There will always be those people who flake on appointments, sometimes for reasons beyond your sales team’s control. The prospect could accidentally forget or have an emergency crop up. However, when the rate at which no-shows occur is too high to attribute to these kinds of reasons, it’s an issue.
Find your team’s no-show rate by dividing the number of ghosted meetings by the total number of meetings booked. According to Close.com, no-show rates should never exceed 20% for top-of-funnel prospects and 10% at the bottom of the funnel.
If your sales team is getting stood up too often, it’s time to start ghostbusting. Here’s how you can help them make their meetings more valuable and make sure prospects show up.
How to predict and prevent sales meeting no-shows
Here are 10 signs that your sales reps are in danger of being ghosted and how to help keep those connections alive and kicking.
These first two are the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Men of sales meeting no-shows.
If your sales team gets these two wrong, you can forget the rest—any meetings booked without them are likely to be doomed from the start. The other tips build upon lead qualification and value to make sure that your prospects have your sales team’s meetings circled in red on their calendar as a can’t-miss.
1. Subpar lead qualification
Just like not every prospect deserves a proposal, not every potential buyer needs a meeting.
Did your sales rep jump to booking a meeting too quickly? If the rep isn’t 100% sure that the prospect is well-qualified, the prospect will likely also be on the fence about how seriously to commit to any next steps.
Make sure your sales reps are booking meetings with serious decision-makers who have a true need for your product or service, not plugging in costly and pointless meetings just to hit a quota. Otherwise, your team will waste time chasing no-show and dead-end leads, which messes up your sales pipeline and forecasts.
2. Didn’t convey the value of the appointment
People can feel when they’re just a metric and when there’s nothing in it for them.
Obviously, the meeting is important to the sales rep. It moves the needle on their metrics and puts them one step closer to closing the sale. But if the prospect doesn’t understand why the meeting is important to them, why would they bother showing up?
It’s on the person booking the meeting to show their participants the value they’ll receive from attending. To make sure their meetings add value instead of waste time, sales reps should:
- Focus on the results they can deliver.
- Collaborate with the buyer.
- Educate buyers with new ideas and perspectives.
- Share insight related to the buyer’s industry or market.
3. No meeting agenda
No one wants to attend a meeting that’s going to end up being a one-sided monologue. That’s a presentation, not a meeting, if we’re all being honest.
But who wouldn’t want to attend a collaborative session where everyone will discuss ways to solve a business challenge? That’s exactly how your sales reps should frame their sales meetings and shared agendas can help.
Just before the meeting, sales reps should send an agenda with spots where the prospect can add their own items for discussion. Even if they choose not to add anything, this will reinforce that it’s a mutually-beneficial meeting, not some boring presentation.
And don’t let your salespeople forget that any good sales meeting agenda needs three or four pain points to discuss. Any more and it’ll overwhelm the prospect, but fewer make it seem like your solution isn’t necessary or a priority.
4. Forgot to send reminders
The prospect agreed to a meeting and the salesperson sent a meeting request. Done!
Not really. Was the meeting invite accepted? Some sales pros say to send the meeting request while you still have the buyer on the phone. That way you can ensure they received it and ask them to accept right then and there so it makes it onto their calendar.
If the salesperson doesn’t get an immediate response to the invitation, they should check in to make sure it was received. But, as always, there’s no client value in ‘just checking in.’ Sales reps can send a piece of content or an interesting industry-related bit of news, adding that they noticed that the meeting request hasn’t been accepted yet.
Everyone is busy, so a reminder leading up to the meeting is vital. Timing is important here, though.
Sending a reminder a day or two before is too far in advance and gives an opportunity for the prospect to second-guess whether the meeting is worth their time. A reminder too close to meeting time provides a chance for last-minute excuses and blow-offs, like “Oh sorry, something just came up that needs my attention.”
If your sales reps are scheduling their meetings in the afternoon as they should be (see tip #7 below for more on this), sending a quick and helpful reminder that morning should do the trick. Check out #9 for details on how to word an ideal reminder message.
5. Didn’t share valuable content
If your sales reps have a couple of days between booking a meeting and the meeting occurring, content is the best way to keep the lines of communication open in the meantime.
What kind of content influences buyers to connect with your salespeople? Customized insight into their business challenges. Here’s a look at what B2B buyers say they want:
A well-timed case study sent or an interesting use case can pique the prospect’s interest and help ensure they attend. And, seven out of 10 of B2B buyers watch a video at some point in their buying journey. Why not make it yours?
6. No respect for the buyer’s time
Sometimes sales reps provide a lot of flexibility on timing, thinking it’s helpful to the prospect. In reality, it’s hurting the chances that the buyer will actually follow through on any commitments.
For example, when a salesperson proposes a meeting and leaves their availability wide open, that actually makes buyers assume that the sales rep isn’t busy, doesn’t respect schedules, and therefore won’t respect their prospects’ time. Suggesting a specific date and time or giving them the option of a couple of specific meeting slots increases the sales rep’s chances of getting the meeting accepted.
Sales reps should also be mindful of how much real estate they’re taking up on prospects’ calendars. Prospects are 12% more likely to show up to a 30-minute scheduled call than a 60-minute one. A half hour should be plenty of time for a comprehensive discovery call or demo.
7. Scheduled the meeting for a less-than-optimal time
The ideal meeting time can vary based on factors like industry, position, and so on. There are a few times that should be universally avoided, though, like Friday afternoons or bright and early Monday morning. Scheduling for these times is like saying, ‘Please don’t come.’
Studies have shown the best days to book a meeting are early in the week, Monday to Wednesday. Mornings tend to have the highest no-show rates, so booking for mid-afternoon is recommended. This could be because people want to get through their own tasks in the morning, but by the afternoon they’re ready to take a break. Or an urgent issue comes to their attention first-thing and takes precedence over outside meetings.
Sales reps might try to get around being pushed off the schedule by setting an early meeting start time. However, people are 30% more likely to show up for a call at 4 pm than one at 8 am.
The other attendance-killer around scheduling is how far in advance your sales reps are booking. Experts recommend getting on a prospect’s calendar within five days at the most. A delay in holding the meeting that’s longer than a business week decreases the urgency and increases the chances of the sales rep being stood up.
8. Sent a weak meeting request
The meeting request or invite itself plays a part in getting prospects to attend and shouldn’t be overlooked. There are two ways this type of message can turn off recipients.
Example 1: Poor Meeting Request
Subject Line: Demo
Details: 06/50/2019 9 am to 10 am
Who: Jane Smith
Example 2: Good Meeting Request
Subject Line: Exploring Acme VR Co.’s virtual reality capabilities
Details: 03/31/2019 3 pm to 3:30 pm
Who: Jane Smith, Account Executive, acmeco.co.co
Phone: (555) 555-1234
Description: Looking forward to meeting with you!
As I mentioned this morning, I’ll Skype you at ConcertBuyer1001 for our demo at 3 pm on March 31st.
We’ll take a look at how our virtual reality systems can bring your dream Tupac and Biggie concert to life, including how our system is more lifelike than your current screen-based one and how it can save you time and money on stage set-up and teardown.
In the meantime, check out this cool behind-the-scenes video from a recent client event featuring virtual appearances by Prince and David Bowie.
The meeting request should be treated as another sales vehicle. It should make the prospect excited to attend, not confused about logistical details like who’s calling whom or unsure about what will be discussed.
Even if it’s done with the best of intentions, putting too much emotion into a meeting request can rub clients the wrong way.
For example, if it over-thanks them for agreeing to the meeting, your sales rep comes off as desperate and needy and not-at-all confident that they will be providing a valuable experience. Instead of thanking them profusely, your sales reps should express their excitement about exploring a partnership.
It’s polite to thank attendees for their time at the end of the meeting, but an overly effusive reaction before the meeting can torpedo the chances of anyone actually showing up. It can make it seem like the sales rep is still trying to convince the prospect of the value of the meeting after they already got a yes, which is a big red flag.
9. Gave the buyer an easy out
“Does Thursday still work for you?”
“Are you still available? I know you’re busy.”
“Sorry, just wanted to check in and make sure—we’re still set to meet next week, right?”
All of these phrases coming from sales reps imply they’re thinking one thing: “I’m not assuming this meeting will actually happen, so why should you?”
If the sales rep asks if the appointment is still good to go, chances are they won’t like the answer. Instead, use reminders to stir up some anticipation and show the value again.
The ideal reminder includes specific meeting details and offers more collaboration. Something like, “I’m excited to demo our product for you today at 3! Do you have any questions before we meet?” works well.
Most of the time, people don’t ghost your sales reps to be mean or to purposefully waste time. Ghosting is more about priorities and whether the prospect views your sales rep’s meeting as high or low on that list.
Improving your sales team’s no-show rate is really about improving how your salespeople convey the value of their meetings, from the meeting request and agenda to scheduling and reminders. When prospects understand perfectly how the meeting will benefit them, they’ll plan to show up.