Appointment Setting: How to deal with “no show” sales leads

Few things are more frustrating for a salesperson than encountering “no show” sales leads. When you go through your daily schedule, putting out fires and dealing with client emergencies and making every effort to be on time to your appointments with sales leads – only to find out that the prospect has had to cancel, that can be disappointing, to say the least.

However, even more important than the fact that your sales leads are missing their meetings is the way in which you react. Too often, salespeople get discouraged by “no show” sales leads and come to the conclusion that the prospect was an unqualified lead, or not really interested, or is feeling premature “buyer’s remorse” for agreeing to the appointment setting in the first place. You might start to wonder, is your entire system of B2B lead generation and qualifying business leads broken?

No Show Sales Leads

The truth is, it’s best not to overreact to “no show” sales leads. Don’t read too much into one missed meeting with a prospect. Instead of assuming that the prospect isn’t interested and the deal is hopeless, just contact the prospect, get started with a second attempt at appointment setting, and move on.

The fact is that a very small percentage of these “no show” sales leads ARE unqualified and that is just a reality of lead generation. Some prospects have a problem saying “no” and therefore they get caught up in the prospecting “net” even though they aren’t interested. Dealing with occasional “no show” sales leads is not a sign that your lead generation process is broken. Every B2B lead generation effort that produces great business leads is also going to produce a certain percentage of “unqualified” sales leads, and as long as your “unqualified” sales leads are less than 10% of total sales leads (this percentage may be higher, depending on your industry), you should accept this as a cost of doing business and move on to the next thing on your schedule.

You don’t want to calibrate your lead generation process so tightly that it weeds out too many sales leads. It is better to have to deal with a few unqualified prospects rather than miss even one qualified prospect. It’s OK if a few unqualified sales leads slip through the “filter” of your sales funnel, as long as you have a good enough volume of high-quality business leads that make it through along with them.

But aside from the unqualified sales leads, who are the other “no show” business leads on your schedule? What does it mean when you’ve had positive initial calls, the prospect has been receptive to appointment setting requests, the prospect is relating significant pain (that your solution can solve) and has proven to have the motivation to make a buying decision..and then the prospect doesn’t show up for a meeting?

Often this is nothing more significant than a case of your sales leads being too busy to meet with you. Keep in mind that even as busy as you are, you’re not the only one with fires to put out. Chances are, your highly qualified “no show” sales leads are dealing with urgent problems, and unfortunately, in the grand scheme of things, you are probably not as important to the prospect as the prospect is to you.

Here are a few things to think about to put “no show” sales leads in perspective:

1) You’re a salesperson, and so to the decision-maker, you are probably the lowest on the priority list. Who is ahead of you? The decision maker’s clients (fire), boss (fire), wife (fire), kids (fire), co-workers (fires galore) and a host of little brush fires that burn continuously in the decision maker’s workday.

2) The customer is always right, and the seller always waits. The unspoken rule of customer service is that if you are selling me something, then you have to cater to my schedule: as the buyer, I have the right to make you wait, stand you up, not return your phone calls and otherwise ignore you. After all, I’m busy trying to keep my world from burning down around me. Sure this is frustrating, but don’t assume that the prospect isn’t interested.

3) If you need to reschedule and go back to the appointment setting phase of the sales process, do it (without complaints). And if the prospect is a “no show” again, reschedule again. Go with the flow.

At best, when you arrive for a sales meeting with a prospect, you are a welcome break from his long day of putting out fires. At worst, you are just another fire – another problem to be solved. Even if you are trying to sell the ultimate tool to help him fight fires, if he agrees, he’s got to find the funding—maybe even fight to get approval—to close the deal to purchase your product or service.

In the end, as with so much else in the sales profession, when it comes to “no show” business leads, all you can control is your own attitude. Make sure you are helping to relieve your prospect’s burdens, not adding to them. Don’t assume the worst about the client’s intentions. Most of all, don’t give up. Sometimes even the most persistently hard-to-reach “no show” sales leads will come through for you in the end.

Ready to “put out some fires” in your B2B lead generation process? Talk to Strategic Sales & Marketing to get actionable advice and high-quality sales leads from one of the industry’s most respected companies. We specialize in lead generation and lead management for complex B2B sales challenges, with sophisticated appointment setting services ranging from appointment setters to sales coaching to B2B marketing consulting.

Get more qualified leads.