The One That Didn't Get Away

April 3, 2017 | by Lara S. Triozzi

Any of us with business development responsibility has been in this situation:

A conference call is scheduled on your calendar with a prospect who has expressed interest in learning more about your company’s services.

You show up for the conference call on time and no one else is there yet. So you wait on hold. You answer a few emails that have been sitting neglected in your inbox. And before you know it, 10 minutes have gone by and you are still all alone, sitting on hold.

You realize you’ve been stood up.

I run a company where our key deliverable is meetings that our team sets for our clients’ sales executives. And when I get stood up, I react the same way our clients do – I assume the prospect wasn’t really interested. I let the Sales Specialist who booked the meeting know that I had a “no-show” and I move on with my life, fairly certain that wasn’t a real prospect and there is no business opportunity there to pursue.

And that would be wrong. Because I know better. And sometimes I have to be reminded in the best way possible: with a success story.

An Example of a Missed Sales Meeting that Became a Closed Sale

One of the most recent clients we signed on at ML, stood me up. Twice. It took 4 months of effort by one very persistent Sales Specialist to get him back on my calendar.

Once we finally met, it turned out that his company did have a need that our firm was uniquely qualified to fill, and he had real interest in pursuing the possibility of working with us. We put together a proposal and closed the deal less than 30 days later.

The Missed Sales Meeting Stats

If you are reading this and wondering if it was you who stood me up, odds are good that it was. I took a look at our stats over the past year:

  • Our team has booked 103 sales meetings for me in the past 12 months
  • 29 of those meetings no-showed or rescheduled at the last minute (28%)
  • Our team was able to get 19 of those meetings back (66%)
  • Of those 19 meetings, 9 (47%) ended up in our sales pipeline (meaning a proposal was generated with real dollars attached)

Another way to state it is that of the meetings which initially no-showed or rescheduled on me, 31% ended up in our sales pipeline.

And so far, 2 of the 9 have become clients.

What Does this Mean for Persistent Prospect Outreach?

I have come to the conclusion that our new normal is over-packed schedules which leave us re-prioritizing our daily commitments in a fluid way. Is it rude to stand someone up or reschedule on them at the last minute? Sure. Does it happen to me 28% of the time? Absolutely. Should I prioritize my efforts by assuming it’s a sign of lack of interest? I better not, because I would be wrong at least 31% of the time.

Fortunately, I have a team who ensure that the outreach to our prospect audience is consistent. My human nature inclination would be to ignore someone who I perceive as having ignored me. But I’ve got a Sales Specialist who knows better and reminds me every chance she gets about the 4 months of effort that landed us our latest win.

Thanks for listening. I look forward to waiting for you on hold.

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