How many times have you made an appointment with a customer or prospect only to arrive and be told that he or she is not available, or had something else come up? Rats.
People miss meetings with salespeople for all sorts of reasons. To understand why, you must understand the prospect and his business. Do you? Maybe:
1. They forgot.
2. Something unavoidable happened.
3. They were making a sale themselves.
4. You weren’t important as a vendor.
5. There is no perceived need or, no established need.
6. You haven’t established enough interest.
7. The prospect may not respect salespeople.
8. The prospect is a rude butthead.
Besides swearing under your breath and biting your tongue, what’s the best way to react?
David Worley, a Capital Products (big ticket) Sales Executive with the Xerox Corporation says, “I try to view discouraging and negative occurrences as opportunities to serve and I look for them every day. When someone misses a meeting I think SALE!”
“Of course I confirm all my appointments at least 24 hours in advance,” says Worley. “But, let’s say I did confirm and the customer still was a no show. A disappointment, yes, a setback, NO! I convert this disappointment to an opportunity. A no show shows a total lack of respect toward the salesperson, but if you get angry you lose the creative edge necessary to make the sale.”
“This customer has agreed to meet with me and, for whatever the reason, broken the date,” Worley continues. “This gives me the upper hand. My customer now feels guilty enough that he owes me, at the very least, an apology, and at the most, the business.”
When the prospect fails to show, you have a power position. Take the “no show” seriously but don’t take it personally. Don’t let it get to your attitude. Don’t get mad. Don’t say stupid things. Don’t burn the bridge. Many salespeople get on their high horse and lose the respect of the buyer and the potential for the order. Don’t let this be you.
The “no show” opportunity works best when implemented at once. Make this your advantage by following up immediately with this strategy:
Blame yourself first. Try to help them save face. Begin by saying you must have made a mistake on the meeting time and venue or else they would have been present (especially if the appointment was confirmed).
Make like it’s no big deal. But make them feel as guilty as you can.
Listen to their lame excuse empathetically. After listening to the customer’s excuse, ask for another meeting as close to today as possible.
Set the next meeting to your best advantage. Try to make the meeting at your office or a neutral site (restaurant is best).
Agree on the ground rules for another change. Let them know that if something comes up, a phone call would be greatly appreciated.
When you get to the real meeting, minimize the first faux pas. Perhaps relate a story of similar situation that happened to you. Tell the person how disappointed you were because of the great ideas you were ready to share and NOW you have a chance to do so.
You will have the complete attention of the prospect for 10-15 minutes. Use this time to build interest and credibility. Ask any direct question you dare including some form of, “will you buy now?”
“I love when prospects miss meetings,” Worley exalts. “Unless they have a total lack of common courtesy, or business etiquette, they will be very agreeable to meet again and will go out of their way to keep the appointment. Now I have the customer right where I want them – owing me. If my presentation is at it’s peak, I can walk out of the next meeting with an order!”
Hey, maybe you’ll get lucky and have a few no shows this week.
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