Top Five Tips for Predicting and Preventing a Prospect No-show.

2 minute read

Ghosted. AWOL. Vamoosed. Deserted. Gone. No-Call, No-Show. The frustration is present even if the prospect is absent. How do you predict it? Even better, how do you prevent it?

The following blog includes Plena's top five tips for knowing if a prospect will no-show before it happens and how to predict and prevent them. After all, the cost isn't just a failed deal but the time spent when other deals could be out there, just waiting for you to show up. Take advantage of potential deals without being time tangled with no-shows.

The No-Show

We have all been there. Your eyes are on the black screen of the Zoom call. There is a sense of anticipation. You are prepared with the rehearsal of just the right words still playing and replaying in your mind. 

Five minutes pass.

Ten minutes. 

You send that polite little reminder email. With an open question of rescheduling, you are keeping that window open.

Fifteen minutes.

At Twenty past the hour, a creeping dread sinks in. All this effort for another no-show. Was it me? Did I do something wrong? Or was this doomed from the start? Was all this a setup, those calls, those emails, the careful touchbacks, and it was all for nothing?

What if they don't show? What if all this time, this effort, is for nothing? Much like being stood up on a first date, the annoyance and frustration of a no-show can linger, souring the relationship moving forward. The following is a hot list of top tips for predicting no-show situations, saving your time and energy for the money makers. 

1. You or they didn't communicate the time and place

Communication is King. It's also tricky to perfect. If the meeting is virtual, invitations get lost in crowded inboxes. Time zones are forgotten or miscalculated. They jumped on Zoom when you were in Teams. In the end, predicting this reason for a no-show is as easy as preventing it.


Check your communication record before a vital call. Was it only one contact? Was it two months ago? Did they follow up with a firm agreement or a maybe? Tracking the number of touches at the top of the sales funnel and throughout can verify and validate your process. It can also be individualized to the client. Some clients need a hand to hold. Others want to race to the end of the process from the start. 


Automated reminders and adding the EST/CST/PST to your emails can ensure everyone is where they need to be at the time. Precise scheduling from the outset with specific times of availability from your end can also help secure a meeting with attendance from all parties. 

Avoid open commitments such as 'What time would be good for you?' or 'We should meet next week?'. Instead, offer two or three precise times within seven days of this scheduling contact, and match your schedule to theirs wherever possible.

Bonus Tip: Avoid the typical 'hot times' of Monday mornings and Friday Afternoons. 

2. You should have conveyed the value of the meeting or built more value into it.

Is it a sales pitch? Is it to get to know you? Is it worth your time and theirs? If the schedule fills up, the curse of prioritization comes into play. Is your meeting a top-of-the-mind priority, or will you be shuffled down the pile? 


When you discussed the meeting, it was only addressed as a 'meeting.' When can we meet? Do you have time to talk? The meeting can be easily put off without a concrete anchor of value. Just as that call to your aunt you needed to make has been pushed to sometime this month. Or that shelf that needs hanging up when you can get around to it. Re-read your communication or review your phone call notes. Did you tell them what the meeting was about? Why does this call move that needle forward and get them closer to something they want?


Agendas help. Also, the naming of the meeting in the calendar to include key phrases such as 'pitch,' 'discuss options, ''budget meeting,' et cetera. When you send that reminder email of the event, try using the subject line as your billboard. ‘10 am EST, Presentation on ROI Expectations’. An email subject line of 'Hello' or 'Reminder' is a wasted opportunity to communicate value.

3. You didn't show up for them, so they don't show up for you.

While this problem usually occurs further down the sales funnel after several contacts, it can be a chronic issue from beginning to end. 


Has there been more than one we-need-to-reschedule incident? They happen to all of us on both sides. The internet is down. A child is sick. The washing machine is flooding the kitchen. The chaos of life happens, but if it happens in sequence with one prospect in particular, it can often lead to a lowering of priority status. Whether by fate or foible, if you fail to show up, you will need to apologize and atone more than you may think to regain the trust and priority status on a prospect's schedule.


While the obvious prevention is always to show up, let's assume that life does happen. No matter the reason for the failure to show, you need to apologize. A sticky subject of its own, apologizing can feel uncomfortable or false. Just remember that you are on the selling side of this relationship. Sometimes you may need to apologize more than once. There is a science to the perfect apology that is an excellent tool in the sales toolbox. Reestablishing trust is about ensuring that the next meeting is a winner and showing that you value continued communication. 

4. They are not buying what you are selling

From bad leads to the wrong contact within a company, this is a common concern. Since we are not currently discussing the generation of valuable leads, we will talk about people who are no-shows because they are not the person you need to be talking to within the company. If they don't make the decision, why would they show up?


Are you talking to the decision maker? Does this person own the process in a relevant way? It can be impossible to know from only a position title which person you should be talking to in a company. There are hints, and you can use general assumptions. But you will run into a company where the CEO will defer to the Head of IT on a decision, even if the IT department isn't affected. Failing to find the right person to talk to can easily lead to ghosted meetings. Why would they bother showing up if they don't make the decision?


Ask the question. Who in your company would be working directly with us? Who should we bring to this meeting? Who needs to hear this pitch? Why don't we gather all the decision-makers so I can address any questions? The more you know about the company, the better your approach can be. Knowing titles and common company structures is certainly a starting point. However, bringing up the subject in clear and plain terms with your first contact within a company network is worthwhile. It is often surprising where the actual buying power lies. 

5. Frantic, Burned Out, and Overbooked

Who has yet to be overwhelmed? While we all strive to stay on top of the to-do's, having that list become an ever-evolving scroll of impossibly overbooked time happens quickly. Predicting and reading your prospect for signs of overbooking can help you aim your meeting to the ideal time. That perfect time is vital because while your prospect may show up physically, you also need them to show up mentally. A perfect sales pitch might not land for someone with a burned-out brain.


There are many ways to gauge burnout, but some are more obvious. Verbal and written cues to look for include phrases such as 'my schedule is packed,' 'I'll see when I can squeeze you in,' 'I'm not sure when I'll be able to make that happen,' 'I have a lot on my plate at the moment,' etc. Another obvious hint is that they reschedule the meeting more than once or ask to shorten it somehow. Learn more about seeing burnout in others with this Harvard Business Review article: Do You Know Burnout When You See It?


While preventing someone else's burnout is not usually an option, some workarounds exist. Emphasize how what you are offering help reduce their workload. Be more open with times to schedule calls, and ask when their usual 'lull' points are in a typical workday. Try to find out more about their schedule, such as when their internal meetings cluster or if they are most productive in the morning or afternoon. Check in about the meeting more often with these individuals, and be sure to send an agenda before and meeting notes after. Overcommunication can overcome the overwhelm. Those written records are a wonder for jogging an overwhelmed brain. 


In conclusion, no-shows are a bane to everyone in the workforce, and predicting them can save you hassle and headaches. Some of the best ways to predict and prevent no-shows are to be clear in your scheduling, with automated reminders sent. Build value into any meeting, and pre-communicate it to encourage them to attend. Be sure you are present and ready, as this enables them to reciprocate and be present and prepared for you. 

Try to make sure ahead of time that you are talking to the right person, the decision-maker, on the topic. Watch for signs of burnout and over-communicate with those individuals. They are more likely to support your cause if you clearly respect their time. While no-shows will always be a part of the sales funnel, we can all save time and effort by predicting and preventing them. No need to wait on a blackened Zoom call contemplating your reflection, be proactive, predict, and prevent the no-shows from getting those quotas met. 

Each day without Plena = Lost Sales

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