Rethinking your meeting scheduling habits is a low-hanging juicy fruit.
You’ve done it: your cold call was very warm and the prospect is interested. You’ve got your foot in the door! They’ve answered all your questions and you’ve got a wealth of information that you've shared with your sales engineers and solution consultants. What do you do next? Schedule a meeting, of course.
Here are your options:
Play email ping-pong to find a suitable time that works for everyone.
Send out a meeting link and hope for the best.
Send them your calendar link and hope for the best.
There has to be a better way, right? According to top performers I've worked with, there is!
It might seem like a trivial matter, but small things go a long way when you are trying to make a strong impression. From the moment you approach a prospect, your behavior, attitude and thoughtfulness will influence your prospect’s decision to buy.
Here are some top tips (from my top-performing buddies) that help you reach out in thoughtful ways, and save you a ton of time.
How to fix the time?
Honestly, scheduling meetings is tedious. It makes your life easier if you drop your calendar link to your prospect for them to book a time slot that’s available in your schedule. It's just easier all around.
The question is, does it offer the best experience for the person making the booking? The house is divided.
Many people consider it rude. When you send a calendar link to a prospect asking them to book a time: who is requesting the time— you or the prospect? It looks like the prospect is asking for your time and it sounds a little bit like you put yourself on a pedestal, even though that is not your intention.
The first and most important question to ask is this — whose priorities come first? Who is the most important person to schedule the meeting around? The answer is easy: the client comes first.
It’s just a matter of optics and all you need is a little tweak. Start by asking about their availability and when they respond in the affirmative, (since you don’t want to go back to the not-so-good-old days) drop in your calendar link with a simple, “and if it's easier to schedule here is my link.”
The simplest thing to do? Ask them if they have a calendar link for you! :)
How to reduce absenteeism?
We’ve all been there, prepped and ready to go for an exciting personalized product demo. And then the prospect never shows or cancels at the last minute. Hmph. The reality is, no-shows are a fact of sales life. But there are ways to mitigate this – the simplest involves sending a reminder.
There’s no point in sending a reminder 15 mins before a meeting because it's too late. Instead, send out a gentle reminder a day or two in advance. In your reminder, be sure to include the date, location (even if virtual), and start time with the time zone. Ask the prospect if the meeting is still on or if there is a need to reschedule. Giving people control to change or cancel the meeting helps them take control of their time. As weird as that sounds!
How to customize the meeting invite?
Imagine this scenario: 15 mins before a meeting, your prospect gets an automated reminder that they have to attend a “Call with [Prospect Name]” and all the meeting invite includes is the meeting link! They are stumped. They have to go through their emails and conversations to refresh their memory. They had spoken to you a week or two ago and presently, they can’t seem to recollect what was discussed. Thoroughly irked, they decide not to attend the meeting.
That’s the worst-case scenario. The prospect has a vested interest in attending the meeting, so let's not let hygiene issues create unnecessary friction. Send them a meeting agenda as part of your email confirming the appointment time. Then send it again with the reminder email before the meeting day itself. Agendas should be short – no more than five or six bullet points – and communicate the purpose of the meeting.
Don’t forget the subject line: To maximize the opportunity of the invite, title your subject line with the key value of the meeting – for example, “Discovering How XYZ CRM Fits You” (rather than “Meeting with XYZ”).
What to do when things go awry?
Life happens, and even the best-intentioned prospect misses/runs late to your meeting. In such cases, it's best to send an email letting them know you are waiting, and for how long. If you have access to their phone number, a text wouldn't hurt either (just in case they aren't at their laptop). Offer to reschedule the meeting, if they will be more than 'x' minutes late.
In most cases, the prospect will send an apologetic email requesting a reschedule, or they'll show up. In other cases though, you end up waiting for 10 mins and then hanging up. Send them a follow-up email letting them know you waited and ask to reschedule. By doing this, you're letting them know there are no hard feelings, and making your prospects feel at ease with you—while prioritizing your time.
There will also be days when you are running late. Make it a habit to inform your meeting participants about the delay and let them know when you will be able to make it. If possible, let the other participants join the meeting and warm up to each other rather than wait in the lobby twiddling their thumbs. If you are going to be more than 10 minutes late, it’s best to reschedule.
There will also be times when life blindsides you and you can't make it to your own meeting. Instead of canceling, first, explore if there's a coworker who can take over. Don't do a 'blind' transfer: give them context and send them the relevant emails, particularly if they weren't a part of the original conversation. Then, make the introductions via email, so the prospect isn't taken by surprise about the new person. Also, give them the option to reschedule, if they'd rather speak to you.
Sales are about people. If you sound flat, uninviting and generic, it doesn't give your prospect much of an incentive to respond. I'm not saying that your meeting invite needs to have a personality, but it helps if it is personalized, clear and checks all the boxes I've laid out in this article.
Make it easy for prospects to do business with you, by removing any kind of friction. As always, the devil is in the details.