Wednesday, May 13, 2009

How to Reduce Appointment Cancellations

by Bill Cates
Referral Coach International

Have your ever had a prospect cancel an appointment with you, or worse, pull a "no show?" This seems to happen more with newer advisors than veterans, but even veterans experience this from time to time.

One of our subscribers asked me to address this important issue. While I have a few ideas to offer on the topic, I thought I'd turn to someone who is an expert in this area.

Gail Goodman teaches financial professionals how to set appointment with prospects.

Like me, she has a very narrow but important expertise. The following ideas on how to reduce appointment cancellations come from Gail Goodman. If you'd like to tap further into Gail's expertise, here is her contact information: Email: Website: Phone: 914-242-1108

Don't Be Product Oriented

The most important fact to know about having a high rate of reschedules and cancels is that they most often reflect a problem with the way you set the appointment in the first place.

If you discussed a specific product and used that as the reason for the appointment, you might find yourself rescheduling a lot of appointments.

Additionally, if you pressed for the appointment too hard (i.e. "Rottweiler" behavior) then the prospect may have capitulated over the phone as a way of getting rid of you.

Rescheduled vs. Cancellations

There is a difference between reschedules and cancels. My definitions are as follows: a reschedule is someone who is still interested in having you call them for a different date and time for their appointment; a cancel is someone who basically says "I don't want an appointment anymore." Essentially the second person is a "dead lead" and the first is someone you are still able to call.

Make Reminder Calls

Some people just plain forget about their appointments. Get in the habit of sending reminder notes or making reminder phone calls several days before your appointments. It's the professional thing to do and will reduce cancellations.

If you think that by placing a reminder call or sending a note will give them a chance to reschedule or cancel, then re-read my first statement. You may have a problem with your appointment setting skills.

What is Normal?

The normal statistics for reschedules should be about 20-25% of your appointments per month. They will vary per week, but overall you should find about 70- 75% of your appointments sticking.

Other than Christmas time and the week before school restarts in the fall, these statistics are standard for the financial services industry in 2009. So, if your stats are in this range, you're "normal." (Isn't that good to know?)

Most Reschedules are Legitimate

Most reschedules are legitimate and should not concern you. However, if you have a 50% reschedule rate, then you are probably doing something dreadfully wrong on the appointment setting phone call.

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The initial appointment is for you and the client to get to know each other and decide of moving forward with the chance of doing business together makes sense for both of you. Prematurely discussing products, solutions, specific ideas or anything else too detailed will work against you. They have not decided you are their advisor so why are you suggesting products?

Most of my advisor clients are looking to move from an initial appointment to a fact-find, which is the procedure for discovering what is important to your new client. Getting into a product discussion on the first phone call is most often the reason appointments don't stick. The second most common reason is being too persistent not letting the person off the phone and creating a call-back situation. Pressure to have "enough appointments" usually leads to the second most common problem.

Thank you, Gail Goodman.

Send Something of Value

I'll add one strategy that often helps appointments stick. You need to decide if this can apply to your world. I've seen a number of advisors get good results by sending something of value between the time they set the appointment and the appointment itself. If can be something as simple as a logo mug filled with candy. Or it can be a book or gift card for their next cup of coffee on you. Personally, I like things that are flat and easy to mail, like a gift card from Starbucks or Duncan Donuts, or Tim Horton's for my Canadian friends.

1 comment:

Alexander said...

Good post, very interesting