Guest Article from Referral Minute Subscriber Joe Soriano
Joe didn’t intend this to be an article. He was just responding to a recent Referral Minute. I turned his response into this week’s message.
Every rep in our office is expected to make a certain number of appointments per week. One ratio that is looked at closely is the set/kept ratio. While many of our reps exceed their expected number or appointments set, they often end up keeping only about 50-60% percent of those. Obviously, improving this ratio could have a significant effect on overall production.
Generally, the appointments were “real” to begin with. That is, a specific date, time, and location was agreed upon with the prospect. In many cases, appointments not kept are the result of the prospect forgetting. This is often demoralizing for the rep, who achieved nothing after she/he spent an hour or more, plus a gallon or two of expensive gas and wear-and-tear on their car. We call this “getting porched”.
Don’t Treat the Symptoms – Treat the Cause
Most folks deal with the symptoms. Management may institute a system of confirmation calls by office staff as a way to check up on the reps and make sure the appointments were “real” to begin with. And reps may use confirmation calls close to the time of the appointment (that morning for example).
It’s not enough to get a prospect to agree to a date and time, and then happily end the call celebrating a “yes”. Instead, form a new habit in the prospect.
When setting the appointment, ask them whether you’ve called the best number in case something comes up. Ask them to write down your name and cell phone number in case they need to change the appointment. These are ways of reinforcing the agreement to meet. And who remembers names easily anyway? So, this way, you’ve just made it easier to remember your name and thereby strengthened an interpersonal bond.
This simple act impresses upon the prospect that the rep is a serious professional, who deserves in return the same courteous treatment that the prospect expects. It impresses that the appointment is not fluff … it’s going to be a meaningful event. It’s acceptable to even say to the prospect something like; “If anything unusual comes up on either side, let’s make sure we reach out to each other. Make sense?”
When a porching does occur, the rep should call and say (by message if not reached in person) that they did arrive, and they’re still open to a reschedule. Leave the return number. A decent person can make a mistake and would care to make up for it. Or, there could have been an emergency. But it’s now up to the prospect to take action. Many prospects do revive this way.
A few prospects are not worth chasing. They’re the ones that don’t call back to recover the relationship. We have a saying; “Don’t chase; replace.” It’s an important rule because time is money.
Don’t Wait to Confirm the Appointment
Waiting to confirm the appointment the morning of, might be too late. Confirm it in various ways at the time the appointment is set. Doing this, we’ve seen our “set/kept” ratio increase by 30-40%. The problem will never go away, but keeping 85% is a whole lot better than keeping 50%.
Here’s Another Idea
Thanks, Joe! One thing that I’ve seen help increase the set/kept ratio is that of sending a little something of value before the appointment. It could be a book, an article, or even something fun like a mug full of candy. This serves as a reminder and sends the message that the rep is intent on keeping his/her end of the agreement.