How to Minimize No-Shows
Have you ever missed an appointment? For most of you, I’m sure the answer is yes; it happens to the best of us. When it comes to outbound telephone prospecting, missed appointments can become a real problem.
At VSA, our client associates set appointments for our clients, and invariably, some prospects cancel at the last minute or don’t show up at all. As the middle-man of these plans, the lack of control we seem to have over these “no-shows” can be frustrating.
If you think about the nature of cold calling, it shouldn’t be surprising that so many appointments are missed. You often reach the prospect in the middle of a busy day, and although they may be interested in learning more, other deadlines and meetings get in the way and by the arranged time they’ve forgotten about that cold call they took last week. Our job is to do as much as we can on the front end to minimize the chance of these conversations and appointments being forgotten. We have been told that our “no-show” rate is lower than other firms, and if this is true it is the result of very hard work.
#1: Engage the prospect with qualifying questions. Starting from the first conversation, we try to make the time spent on the phone a positive experience that promises a relevant and worthwhile next step. Our callers also ask qualifying questions to explore the level of need and interest. We strive to set appointments only with well-qualified individuals, in part because qualified appointments are much less likely to cancel.
#2: Follow-up and confirm. Immediately after the call, we send an email to confirm the appointment and reference our recent telephone conversation in the email. We ask all of our clients to follow up with a calendar invite, or we send one for them. It is best to repeat the calendar invite on the day of the appointment. We will often make confirmation calls the day before the appointment. We try not to set appointments too far in advance to minimize the number of follow-up reminder calls needed.
#3: Don’t let no-shows go. When a client does have a no-show to an appointment, we call back and reschedule. For most prospects the reason was a simple scheduling mistake, and the “stick” rate tends to be far higher the second time.
One more tip: Try to set on-site appointments, wherever possible. For us, that’s not always realistic because our clients’ sales teams are not nationwide.
Our steps to make appointments stick go a far way to reduce one of the more frustrating by-products of telephone appointment setting and reclaim the “no-shows” that inevitably do occur. By implementing them, we help reduce wasted time by our clients’ sales teams and are able to deliver well-qualified, interested leads.