Why Appointments Cancel: How to Get More Meetings With Qualified Prospects


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Do you ever wonder why prospects or customers cancel appointments? Cancellations further complicate your outbound sales (coldcalling) and marketing prospecting efforts. It is hard work to secure an appointment, so a cancellation is a disappointment to say the least.

A Lesson From an Appointment Kept

My visit to the dentist makes an excellent case study of what motivates a person to keep an appointment. Recently, I had noticed a small dot on my gum. I thought nothing of it and mentioned it to my dentist during a routine check up about a week later. Being the cautious, thorough and experienced dentist that she is, she took an x-ray. I was stunned to find out that beneath this innocent-looking dot on my gum was a problem on the brink of causing me unprecedented pain.

My dentist immediately put me on my periodontist’s schedule for that same afternoon. She emphasized the importance and urgency of keeping that scheduled appointment, clearly pointing out the dire potential consequences if I did not keep the appointment. Who could argue?

My dentist presented a compelling and urgent reason for me to keep my periodontal appointment – to avoid excruciating pain and prevent needless expense. Who in their right mind would cancel this appointment? Needless to say, I rearranged my entire schedule that day to accommodate this critical appointment.

The Real Reasons Why Appointments Cancel

This situation got me asking: why do appointments cancel? Think about your sales appointments or any other appointment for that matter. We cancel appointments because:

  • The reason we made the appointment while outbound prospecting is no longer compelling or as urgent as it was when we made the appointment
  • A more urgent compelling reason causes us to keep another appointment and cancel the one scheduled earlier
  • The reason we made the appointment was never compelling or urgent
  • The reason we made the appointment was never a priority

The reasons are as simple as that.

We have looked at why prospects and customers cancel appointments despite the time and effort you spend scheduling the appointment during outbound prospecting. We saw how discouraging it is when your focused outreach efforts don’t pan out, and identified some real reasons why appointments cancel. Here are a few tips to keep prospects from backing out of appointments for more fruitful outbound sales and marketing prospecting efforts.

How to Set And Keep More Qualified Appointments

Seek out the reasons that compel current customers or prospects. Look to your customers and prospects and engage with them to truly understand their compelling reasons to buy or consider your product or service. This will serve as the basis to comprehend the most motivating reason you must uncover with future prospects who may be interested in scheduling an appointment during your outbound prospecting efforts.

  • Spend time to fully comprehend your customer’s and prospect’s urgent reasons. Get comfortable with the urgent and compelling reason your customers and prospects consider buying from you. Know it inside and out. Be able to clearly articulate the benefits of your product or service, in a comfortable story-like fashion, when talking with a senior executive.
  • Be able to articulate your customer’s buying reason clearly and concisely in your customer’s or prospect’s language. As you would communicate a relevant story to your friend if he or she expressed a need or problem, likewise approach a prospect or customer similarly when you uncover an important or strongly felt need.
  • Engage with your prospects and ask them if they have had the same urgent situation as your customers had. When you uncover a particularly important need, discover if your customer or prospect wants to resolve it. If you can solve it then you may have a viable potential prospect.
  • Be sure you and the prospect agree upon the urgent and compelling reason to set an appointment. Understand their willingness to seek resolution.

Fully addressing your customer’s strongest motivations will put you in good standing with your customer or prospect and help them keep their appointment. When you both see the urgency, your customer may feel compelled to reschedule and keep the appointment if they do have a situation in which a priority comes up and they need to change plans. This approach applies regardless of how you are engaging with prospects – whether through traditional channels or in social media environments.

The Fine Art of Meeting With More Good Prospects

The single most important reason appointments cancel is because the prospect does not see your solution as a compelling priority. Either the outbound effort has not uncovered or created the priority that is driving the buyer to resolve an issue, or the buyer has no interest in making a priority of finding the solution to the problem.

Call it what you will — outbound prospecting, cold-calling, focused outreach, outbound marketing — it is hard work. Invest your time in finding the buyers you can help, and who want your help.

Elisa Ciarametaro
Elisa Ciarametaro is an Inside Sales Strategist and Principal of Exceed Sales in New York, NY. Sales and marketing executives work with Elisa to create strategies, inside sales teams and outbound prospecting initiatives that exceed prior results. Companies gain reliable market intelligence, well-qualified leads, more profitable pipelines and more accurate revenue forecasting. She's been repeatedly named among 50 Most Influential People in Sales Lead Management by the Sales Lead Management Association.


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