Get more kept appointments and boost your productivity

By Jim Ruta | September 19 2017 07:00AM


How do I get more kept appointments and have fewer “no shows”?

Fifty percent of all planned appointments are postponed or cancelled, according to the late Al Granum. It’s a fact of life in the business. You can improve your odds with a little ICON organization and get more “kept appointments”.

  1. Book far enough in advance. There’s a fine line between booking far enough in advance that you don’t appear needy and booking so far in advance that people forget about the meeting altogether. Here’s the rule. Even if you are starting today, book your appointments 3 weeks in advance. When you suggest a time and date three weeks ahead you add to your prestige because you are busy. Even if you aren’t busy, start booking 3 weeks in advance. That way, you only “pay the price” of that 3-week delay once and then are always booking 3 weeks ahead.
  2. Set a meeting time, date and location that’s convenient and compelling to the prospect. We have been instructed that we want to have prospects come to our offices but maybe that’s not the best way for a first appointment. Go to them. Make it convenient for them. How about a breakfast, coffee or lunch? People have to eat. Risk a few dollars and earn their business.
  3. Emphasize the importance of the meeting. My friend and ICON, Winnipeg’s George Sigurdson tests the clients for the prospects seriousness about their lunch meeting. “Are you sure you can make it?” he says. “These appointments are very important to me and if you think you might not be able to make it, I’d rather know now. We can arrange another time.” Because he is so sincere, prospects are more likely to be there.
  4. Confirm the appointment by email or calendar invite immediately and then with a handwritten note by mail or courier. Handwritten notes are so rare today that you will stand out as someone to know. Send it by courier? Sure. It just depends how important that meeting is to you. If it is a big deal, make the confirmation a big deal. Maybe send a prospect gift (hot business book maybe?) with the confirmation. Be impressive and respectful.
  5. Re-confirm the appointment the day of the meeting. Re-confirming too early, say a day or two, and they may feel they can back out without shame. Instead, an hour before you would usually leave for the appointment, call the prospect and say, “Bob, Jim Ruta here. Just calling to say that I may be 5 minutes late for our appointment today at 2pm at Starbucks. I hope that’s OK?” Five minutes with notice is nothing but calling makes you look more professional. If it is a problem, you may want to reconsider the prospect. But usually, this is a simple reminder in enough time that they can be there if they forgot. Or, if they can’t, you know before you waste your time and then rebook the replacement meeting.

Try this simple process and you will keep more appointments. That will increase your productivity, increase your experience and allow you to become your best faster. That’s how you become an ICON.

Why can I repeat the exact same scripts of great advisors but still not get their exact same results?

What you say is nowhere near as important as the way you say it. People are sold on your solutions not because of your words but because of your conviction about their value when you say them. That’s the difference between an ICON presenting and you presenting.

This is not to say that great advisor scripts are of no value. But rather than just mimicking their words, listen for their convictions, beliefs and philosophies for the foundation from which they are spoken. Duplicate that inspiration and you will be more effective.

More importantly, when you internalize their inspiration, their concepts become yours and you will effectively naturalize their script for yourself. It will sound natural. Your script will be your version of theirs based on your new belief. The exact words are rarely that important but the exact sentiment is. That comes from conviction. Get it.

Your conviction, belief and understanding is what makes your words compelling. With that grounding, your words flow from your “heart” rather than your “head”. From your “head” means you are just parroting the words as if they have all the power. Not effective.

From your “heart” means you believe what you’re saying. That adds heat. That’s what you hear when you listen to an ICON – their beliefs.

Research tells us that selling communication is 55 percent body language, 37 percent tone of voice and only 8 percent words. So, just repeating their words is a tiny fraction of their message. No wonder you come up short.

You need to duplicate the body language and especially the tone of voice to communicate like an ICON. Prospects need to see and hear your “heart” if you want to be as good as the great advisors.

You need style to go with your substance if you want to be great. It’s the how, not just the what. Your voice needs to be interesting and expressive of your true beliefs. (This is why insurance ownership makes such a big difference in your sales effectiveness. It’s also why ICON Van Mueller brings his 28 policies with him to show at client meetings. Do you?)

Your voice will be more effective when you speak in a lower register (deeper for you) and slower than usual. Lower and slower is more authoritative and powerful.

But, you can’t be monotone either. You need to be expressive and varied to be interesting and keep prospect interest.

We are talking “showmanship” when we describe great advisors, aren’t we? The greats are alike in this way. They engage their audience with more than their language, words, questions and stories. They connect with their audience through their hearts. This is the key to being great.

So, the next time you hear a great advisor and want to copy their approach or presentation, listen carefully for the convictions that drive those words. Whether it’s a George Sigurdson, Bruce Etherington, Tom Hegna or Van Mueller, it’s what they believe that drives their success. Their language is only a reflection of it. Copy their conviction, regardless of the words you use and you will copy their results.