Why Prospects Refuse Meetings & How To Change Their Minds

BY Jessica Helinski
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When prospects refuse meetings, reps may blame themselves. But sometimes, a prospect’s refusal stems from past bad experiences or unfounded concerns. Buyers may be tired from previous dealings that went awry or wary of change. “While we spend a lot of time working to acquire a meeting, we also must learn to understand and address the reasons that decision-​makers and decision-​shapers refuse meetings,” writes Anthony Iannarino on The Sales Blog

Prospects refuse meetings for many reasons

When met with a refusal, it can be helpful to understand what is at the root of refusal. Iannarino shares some common reasons for these refusals, as well as suggestions that may change their mind. By employing buyer-​first methods, as Iannarino suggests, you boost your chances of standing apart from previous sellers and inspire them to realize the value in meeting with you.

Reasons they refuse: unprepared for change

One factor causing prospects to refuse meetings could be that the buyer and their company just aren’t ready to make a change. Change can be scary, especially during times of uncertainty. The past year has dealt a blow to everyone, and today still involves recovery and lingering concerns. Also, as Iannarino writes, “Some of it stems from the increasingly challenging internal process for any change initiative.”

You can ease these concerns by acknowledging the difficulty of change and showing empathy for the buyer. Nurture a relationship immediately with this dialogue, which in turn will help put the prospect at ease. “Change is the heart and soul of sales, as it is only through [a] change can your client improve their results, but that doesn’t make it any less scary,” he explains. Showcasing empathy immediately sets you apart from sellers who aren’t as understanding. 

No need for a salesperson

Another reason prospects refuse meetings is that they simply believe they don’t need assistance from a seller. This is rooted in the current trend of decision-​makers’ “consumerizing” B2B sales. As Iannarino writes, “Rather than risk allowing another salesperson into their office and their life, these stakeholders decide to go it alone: researching companies on the internet, mistaking information for insight, and overvaluing facts where experience and good counsel is needed.” 

SalesFuel’s research supports this; our Voice of the Buyer survey found that 40% of B2B buyers attempt to solve a problem/​meet tae goal with current resources before seeking assistance from a vendor.

To counter this challenge, be prepared to share a knock-​their-​socks-​off insight. This will immediately showcase your value as a vendor and an advisor. Note that coming up with an impactful insight will require some pre-​call research. There are many ways to conduct this research, depending on the time you have available. But, doing so is worth the effort. It will instantly show them the value of working with you instead of going it alone. 

Avoiding bad experiences. 

As mentioned before, previous unsatisfactory experiences with salespeople may be the reason prospects refuse meetings with anyone new. While you can't erase their past experiences, Iannarino points out that you “can make certain that every interaction you have [with] a prospect provides such a good experience that they will open their calendar and schedule you in for the same time the following week.”

Credibility will be key to showing the prospect that you are a sales professional who engages in buyer-​first selling and best practices; you must show that you are different from everyone else. SalesFuel offers plenty of tips for establishing credibility, from establishing social proof to weaving valuable research into your conversation. 

For a deeper dive into how to build and showcase your credibility, check out Sales Cred, the insightful book from SalesFuel CEO C. Lee Smith. His professional tips can help you establish credibility before you even ask for a meeting.

When prospects refuse meetings, don’t give up. You can still convince them that meeting with you will be a valuable and insightful experience that is worth their effort. Just follow these tips, along with Smith’s credibility-​boosting tips. As Iannarino notes, “Your number one initiative should be increasing your effectiveness as the person guiding your prospective client through the process of exploring change, pursuing better results, and delivering new and better outcomes.”

Photo by Daniel Herron