No More No-Shows

Ask any SDR (or SDR manager) what their top challenge in the job is and I am confident one item which will come at or close to the top of the list is how to deal with no shows and cancellations. To an extent, no shows and cancellations come with the territory. We are booking meetings, and there will always be times these meetings will not happen or need to be changed. However, I am a firm believer that by implementing a few best practices, no shows and cancellations can be reduced, with the added benefit that the number of qualified opportunities you or your team are generating will go up.

  1. Book quality meetings

When it comes to reducing the number of no shows and cancellations, there is no substitute for booking quality meetings. This involves (as you should already know!) engaging the right prospects for your product and “selling” them on the value of the product and therefore the initial meeting. When you pull a “hit and run,” scheduling the first person who shows interest and/or ignoring the need to sell the value in favor of “just scheduling,” you are opening yourself up to a much greater possibility of a no show or cancellation. Invest the time to identify the right person(s) to approach and do not allow yourself to settle for anyone else. When you get that individual on the phone (see item 2), ask a few probing questions which will a)let the prospect know you know the challenges he/she is most likely encountering and your product can address and b) give you more ammunition to use to schedule the initial meeting. Then take this information and confidently use it to schedule. You have now created a quality meeting, both for your company and for the prospect. This meeting has a greater chance of turning into a quality opportunity for the company and reduced the possibility of a no show. 

  1. Book your meetings by phone

Every SDR LOVES to crow about booking meetings over email, but meetings scheduled by email have a much higher rate of no show and cancellation in my experience. Engaging prospects by email and establishing the desire for a more in-depth meeting is great, but the meeting should be set on phone. This makes it more serious on both ends, and enables you to possibly include others, which further reduces the chances of no show or cancellation) or even to uncover hesitation which could lead to a no show or cancellation. 


  1. The Sooner the Better

Have the confidence to ask the prospect to book for “tomorrow.” If not, the next day. Be bold and when they say, “I really don’t have any time on ____,” say, “Are you sure we can’t find some time tomorrow or the next day?” The closer the meeting is to the date you are speaking, the better the chance is of them showing up. Take control of this, because it is to your benefit.


  1. Have the Prospect Accept the Invite While on the Phone

This has proven to reduce no shows and cancellations, of course assuming you have scheduled a quality meeting. When the prospect verbally accepts, simply say, “That’s great. While we are on the line, I’m going to quickly shoot you over the calendar invitation. It won’t have all the details, but I would appreciate if you would accept it so its on both of our calendars.” Now send the invitation, confirm they received it, and wait until you have the acceptance before you hang up.


  1. Add details to the invitation

As soon as you are off the call with the prospect, add details to the invitation. Give it a strong subject, add call-in details and an agenda. This updated invitation will now show up on the prospect’s email within a few minutes of your call and adds to their interest in taking the meeting.

   6.  Confirming (yes, confirming) the Meeting

Here are my ground rules for confirming:

  • If the meeting is the next day, you don’t need to confirm, but sending an email reminder in the morning is good.
  • If the meeting is later that week, send an email reminder the morning of the meeting and call. If they don’t answer, leave a voicemail.
  • If the meeting is the following week,  send an email reminder the morning of the meeting and call. If they don’t answer, leave a voicemail. You must confirm!
  • If the meeting is more than one week out, you need to engage them in the interim with a short email saying you are looking forward to the meeting and perhaps including some content (“Thought you might enjoy this blog post,” etc). The day BEFORE the call, send an email to confirm and call to confirm.

To summarize, setting quality meetings is the key to lowering the number of no shows and cancellations. All you have to after that is follow up appropriately. If you do this consistently, you safely say those who don’t show up or reschedule were not going to be worth it in the first place. 

Happy Hunting and Scheduling!

Bruce Zivan is currently Senior Director of Sales Development at Visual Factories, an Industry 4.0 startup. In addition, he advises start ups on building and scaling their sales process. He has previously built and scaled SDR teams at several Israeli companies, including WalkMe. 

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