One of the most common frustrations salespeople experience involves being stood up for an appointment. Missed appointments are such a waste of time when you consider that there are dozens of other things you could have planned to do during the hour you’d blocked out to show your prospect how great your product is.
Here are some ideas that will help you reduce missed appointments so that you can instead spend those precious time blocks giving sales demonstrations that impress.
Setting the Appointment
A successful product demo involves much more than asking your prospect to join you to experience economic nirvana, where supply and demand serendipitously embrace each other like a scene out of a love story. You’ve got to do your prep work, often a significant amount, for the intended outcome: getting closer to a finalized sale.
Preparing a sales demo for success requires taking precise care of the pertinent details, including scheduling and confirming the appointment, which involves identifying the best time for the demo and making sure the right people (those who will contribute to making the decision about your offer) will be attendance. Make sure to spend time learning about the individual members of your audience, or, for presentations to larger groups, at least making sure you have a sense of the general demographics represented by those to whom you are presenting.
Scheduling Tip: Don’t call your demo a “demo”. Call it “[Solution Title] Consulting With [Your Company Name]”. At DemoChimp we might call it “Sales Productivity Consulting With DemoChimp”. Even though we want to, when setting an appointment, instead of saying, “Can we find some time in the next few days to demonstrate our awesome product?”, we might ask, “Can we find some time in the next few days to discuss your sales processes so we can offer some recommendations on how to significantly increase productivity?” Ultimately you are scheduling a meeting to try to solve their problem, not to demo your product. Some people won’t want to see a “demo”, but everyone wants their problems solved.
Schedule the Appointment, then Confirm It
Getting on a prospect’s schedule is the first major step to giving an effective live demo. There are entire companies and product offerings built specifically around the art of scheduling an appointment and having prospects keep the appointment. For example, a company called Timetrade advertises a sales appointment schedulingappointment-scheduling product that automatically does some groundwork for appointment-setting activities, allowing sales reps to focus more on the meetings and less on the scheduling aspect of holding those meetings.
Timetrade touts that its Click-to-Schedule tool reduces the time wasted (51%) in “non-sales activity” by sales reps. Whether it’s Timetrade’s solution or another tool, spending the time to develop a solid process for scheduling and confirming appointments will help you and your team spend more time on activities that matter most.
Sales reps will tell you that there can also be a big difference between an appointment being set up and actually being kept. Confirming a live demo appointment is almost as crucial as setting up the appointment in the first place. Many salespeople purposely skip the appointment confirmation element of the meeting prep work, for fear that a confirmation phone call or email may simply become an opportunity for the prospect to cancel the appointment. However, tactfully but assertively reminding your prospects that you have a meeting scheduled with them gives them a chance to mentally prepare for the experience, creating the higher likelihood that the meeting will actually take place.
“Hi [name], I’m reaching out to remind you that we have a consulting appointment to discuss [solution title] on [date and time]. Can you please confirm this still works well for you.? If not, can you please let me know another time that would work better?”
If they do postpone the meeting when you try to confirm, at least you’re not wasting your time waiting for the prospect to show up for the call. It also makes them feel in control, which establishes a greater relationship of trust. You are an advisor, not a salesperson thatwho is going to cram something they may not need down their throats.
Tips for confirming sales demonstration appointments include:
- Avoid scheduling appointments more than two weeks in advance.
- Be clear about the appointment details and do a quick confirmation during the initial appointment conversation, restating the date and time of the appointment to the prospects along with the objective of the meeting.
- Send out a calendar invite as soon as the appointment is set, and include a reminder notification that seems appropriate for your prospects
- Leave a personalized reminder during the latter part in the day prior to the scheduled appointment. A quick text message saying something like, “Looking forward to our demo appointment tomorrow at 10am,” works well for this.