Have you ever gone spent a day to visit a customer -- only to be stood up? It's a common occurrence, but it needn't be a disaster, according to Bruce Seidman, president of the sales training firm Sandler Systems. Here are three simple rules to help you avoid the problem, and turn it to your advantage when it crops up.
- RULE #1: Pre-sell the Appointment. When you're setting up the sales call, ask the customer "what is supposed to happen at the end of our next appointment?" and "Is there anything that you can think of that would come up between then and now that would get in the way of us having this meeting?" These two questions force the customer to visualize the upcoming meeting and help ensure it will be a productive one.
- RULE #2: Remind the Customer. Always call at least twice in advance of the meeting to confirm that the customer will be present. E-mails and even a hand-written letter are also useful because they communicate that you're invested in the meeting and that you're taking time out of your schedule. Have your email contain the event scheduled for Microsoft Outlook. That way it's more likely to get into your customer's personal calendar.
- RULE #3: Leverage the Gaffe. If the customer is still a no-show, the situation can be used to your advantage, if you move quickly enough. TThe trick is to make the customer feel obligated to you without making them uncomfortable. You need to diplomatically let them know the time and energy that you put into the meeting, but make it very clear that you want to maintain the relationship. Reschedule quickly so that the no-show doesn't blunt your sales momentum.