It happens all the time. You call a prospect at the scheduled time and the line rings and rings and rings. No answer. You send a short follow-up email to set up another call. Still nothing.
You’ve made good on your promise to connect, but you’re being met with radio silence.
So what’s a sales rep to do when the deal rests on a prospect’s responsiveness?
Don’t panic. And don’t give up.
There are ways to effectively nudge your no-show prospect without feeling like you’re shouting into a void.
What to Do When Your Prospect Doesn't Show Up to Your Meeting
- Do default to the idea that there are many reasons a prospect could have missed a call.
- Don’t guilt trip the prospect.
- (Especially) don’t harass a prospect.
- Do be honest about what happened on your end.
- Do add the value you anticipated covering during the call in your follow-up email.
- Do propose a reschedule.
It’s easy to assume a no-show is the result of a flaky or ultra-busy prospect, then let that belief color the rest of your interactions with them. But the only assumption you can confidently make is that you can’t be 100% sure about what happened.
Realize that you simply can’t know everything about a prospect's schedule. This mindset will help you avoid making inaccurate assumptions or jumping to conclusions.
Guilt tripping can be an effective way to get someone on the phone. But don’t do it.
Guilt tripping makes people feel terrible, pushes them to do something they might not want to do, and doesn’t reflect well on you or the company you represent.
Friendly nudges are fine. Sending out emotional sob stories meant to guilt a prospect aren’t.
This seems like an incredibly obvious point to make, but you’d be surprised at the lengths some sales reps go to get ahold of a prospect. This includes calling alternative numbers found on LinkedIn profiles or emailing a prospect’s personal account.
While those might not seem like hugely offensive acts, consider how you feel when a sales reps takes an alternative route to reach you. Usually not all that great.
Creative forms of outreach are okay -- up to a certain point. Beyond that, they become frustrating for prospects and flirt with the line between persistence and harassment.
If you weren’t able to reach a prospect by phone, tell them you weren’t able to reach them. If they never showed up to your Zoom, WebEx, or GoToMeeting, tell them.
Stating what happened outright helps you establish the facts from your perspective and avoid making “assumption” statements that aren’t all that motivating (e.g. “I assume you’ve got a really busy schedule, so I’d like to figure out a time we can reschedule.”)
Any email you send to a prospect is an opportunity to provide value to your prospect.
Even when they don’t show up, take a minute and pretend they did. What information would you have covered? What types of materials or resources would have been helpful partner pieces to that conversation?
Share it. Sending resources gives your prospect an opportunity to educate themselves on why they should choose your product or service, as well as get up to speed on missed information without slowing down the process too much.
Unless your prospect tells you otherwise, it's likely they intended to attend the meeting but couldn't because something came up. Propose rescheduling the meeting so you can preserve the momentum of your previous calls, and use a scheduling app to reduce the number of unnecessary back-and-forth emails.
Most sales reps have a basic follow-up email template to send to no-shows. It's usually something along the lines of, “We missed each other! Just following up to reschedule.”
While it’s not a bad thing to have, I wouldn’t rely on one short email exclusively. Templated, generic emails are easy to spot.
Here’s an email template you can use as a starting point. I highly suggest tweaking it to make it your own and adapting based on each situation:
I rang (XXX) XXX-XXXX at 3 p.m. today and it went straight to voicemail. I planned to cover Y and Z during today’s call, so I wanted to send over a couple pieces of information to catch you up. Take a look and let me know what questions you have!
- Link or file to piece #1
- Link or file to piece #2
Would you be interested in scheduling another call? I have a [link to meetings app] that should make it easy to select an open time.
In the above email, you've effectively:
- Stated the facts from your side
- Added value by providing resources
- Offered an opportunity to reschedule
Here’s another script you can send before making a call. It takes preventative measures against no-shows:
I’m looking forward to our call today. I plan to ring you at 3 p.m. at (XXX) XXX-XXXX. We’ll use the time to cover Y and Z. I did a bit of extra research on what that looks like for [prospect’s company/team]. Excited to get your thoughts.
Talk to you soon,
Sending a friendly reminder an hour or so before a call prepares a prospect and sets expectations. That can often help prevent no-shows from happening in the first place.
A final note –- never stop thinking critically about how your process could be improved.
It’s 100% worth it to analyze why a prospect may not have shown up. For example, did they know the date and time, but not have an easy way to add the meeting invitation to their calendar? Were the prospects poor fits or too early in their buyer's journey to begin with, making a phone call at that stage unwarranted? These are things that will inform your approach the next time and the time after that.