In working with our clients we are always looking for ways to differentiate them from their competition. One behavior we've found that does this is for the organization to commit to confirming an appointment at least one day prior to the appointment. While most physician and dentist offices do this, we have found in the service industry that not everyone does this. There are some compelling reasons to do this. Here's why:

From the prospect/client’s perspective, a confirmation call:

- Reminds the prospect/client of the appointment, thus making sure he/she will be there, establishes the length of the meeting
- Provides a better understanding of what will happen on the call and sets expectations for both the prospect/client and the sales person
- Gives the prospect/client the opportunity to talk with the sales person before he/she arrives on the appointment helping establish some rapport before the actual meeting and lastly
- Allows the prospect/client to ask any questions he/she may have before the appointment.

From the salesperson’s perspective, making confirmation calls does the following:

- Allows the sales person to further establish rapport before arriving in person.
- Establishes the length of time for the appointment (if not done when the appointment was set.)
- Helps both the sales person and prospect/client review the agenda for call.
- Allows the sales person to confirm that the prospect still is interested and that nothing has come up to change their mind.

From the company’s perspective, confirming calls sends a message that we value the prospect/client’s time and want to make that time as productive as possible. It also communicates that the company is a professional organization that works hard at ensuring that the prospect/client’s experience with us exceeds their expectations. We've had companies begin using this step and six month later they find that their competition has begun doing it to keep up with them.

The purpose of the Confirmation Call is to:

1. Create/build a relationship.
2. Set expectations for the call so that both parties understand what will happen during that call.
3. Establish the length of the call so that both the sales person and prospect can plan their day.
4. To verify that all decision makers will be present for the meeting.
5. To create comfort for all parties.

When to Make a Confirmation Call

Confirmation calls are to be made at least one day prior to the appointment. Each morning, the Sales Person should look at the appointment he/she has for the following day and place confirmation calls to those individuals. If you are unable to reach the prospect/client, it is appropriate to leave a message for them. The message should include the elements of the confirmation call discussed below.

How to Make a Confirmation Call

The elements of a confirmation call are as follows:

1. Confirm the appointment including how long the meeting will take.
2. Review the agenda for the meeting, and
3. Ask if they have met with any other companies (if they indicated they were going to during the initial call.)
4. Close the call.

Confirming the Appointment

The sales person calls the prospect/client and says:

SP: “Hi, Mrs. Jones, this is Tim Smith from ITT Services.I am calling to confirm our appointment tomorrow at 10:00. Does that still work for you?”

This not only reminds the prospect/client of the appointment but also allows them to tell you if they have a conflict with the established time. It is better to know now rather than at the appointment when you show up and the prospect/client isn’t there!

Then the sales person confirms that the meeting will last the amount of time discussed when making the appointment.

SP: “When your appointment was scheduled, Susan mentioned that the meeting would last one hour. Does that still work for you?”

Setting this expectation helps the prospect/client plan the rest of his/her day and also allows him/her to communicate if they have a tight schedule which means the meeting may be rushed. Again, better to know that now rather than at the meeting! If the prospect/client is going to be too rushed, it may make sense to reschedule knowing that it does take at least one to 1½ hours to meet with a new prospect. A client meeting may be shorter but be careful not to be put in a position to be rushed. Both the prospect and client need to be present (in mind and body) for the meeting – if they feel rushed, they may not be able to be focused enough to make a decision.

SP: [If you feel as if it makes sense to reschedule the meeting to allow for more time, say:]
“Mrs. Jones, I am concerned that we won’t be able to address all your issues given the time constraints we have, would it make more sense for us to reschedule so that when we do meet, we can cover all of your issues?”

Reviewing the Agenda for the Appointment

Once the time and length of the meeting are confirmed, the next step is to review the agenda for the meeting.

SP: “When we spoke you shared that the outcome of the meeting that you’d like to have is to get an idea of what this type of project might cost you. Is that correct?
P: “Yes.”
SP: “I suggested that we would meet, I’d find out more about what you were looking for, and then either give you a cost range, or if I wasn’t able to do that, I’d at least share with you my next steps and a time frame for when I could get you the information. Does that still work?
P: “Yes.”
SP: “Great. We also said that both of us might want to ask some questions. Have you been keeping a list for me?”
P: “I have a few. My CFO also wrote down his questions.”
SP: “That is great. I’ll have Bill Smith, our CEO, with me. We’ll review the project needs and potential solutions in detail. We’ll also review the project flow and ensure we answer your questions.”

Note: If others will be with you as well, let the prospect know their names and titles as well.

Uncovering the Prospect's the Timeline (for accuracy in projecting your potential business)

SP: “When we spoke you indicated that you’d like to start this project as soon as possible. Is there anything that could delay this project?”
P: “We’ll have to look at how costs will fit into the budget. We hadn’t budgeted for that this year.”
SP: “Why are you looking to do this now?”
P: “We have redundancy and duplication of effort and it has to stop ASAP. We've got to get our hands around this NOW!”
SP: “That makes sense."

Confirming who will Attend the Meeting

During the appointment setting call you learned who the decision makers were and if all would be able to be present. The next step is to confirm your understanding of who will be at the meeting. It sounds like this:
SP: “So just you and I will be meeting but you’ve had your CFO write down his questions right?
P: “Yes”
SP: “Great. Is there anything else we need to do for your CFO?”
P: “No”
SP: “How will you and your CFO go about making the decision to move forward – do you have criteria in mind?”
P: “It probably comes down to finances and the folks with whom we feel are most reliable.”
SP: “How will you know who is most reliable?”
P: “Those that do what they say they will do.”
SP: “And how soon do you feel you’ll select the right company.”
P: “As soon as possible.”

Note: If this has been reviewed in detail in the qualification call then you might simply check in to see if anything has changed since you last spoke. The same goes for understanding whether or not (and which) other companies are responding to the RFP.

SP: “I know we have the RFP that you forwarded and thank you for that, may I ask you a question about that?”
P: “Sure.”
SP: “What are the desired outcomes once this project is completed?”
P: “We’ll spend less time manually updating our inventory levels; the operations team will be more efficient.”
SP: “What is the impact of not having this up and running now?”
P: “About $20K per year in payroll.”
SP: “How do you envision us working with you?”
P: “We have an in-house IT team of 2 people. We figured we’d work out a general timeline from you and your primary contact will work with Jim, our Director of IT.”
SP: “Have you ever done a project like this before?”
P: “No. I don’t know why we didn’t even think of it until a few weeks ago. Well, now that I think about it, we did hire a firm to create our website, but that’s different.”
SP: “How did that project go?”
P: “It was a nightmare. It took a few weeks for our Director of IT to obtain all the necessary data from the company in order to take the website over in house. They just wouldn’t listen or cooperate.”

Learning if the Prospect has met with other Companies

This gives you the heads up if you are walking into a situation where the prospect has already gotten a quote or had a meeting with other companies and if they did what they found out. This information is helpful to know as you plan for your face-to-face meeting. This step sounds like this:

SP: “On our call you mentioned that you were going to meet with other companies. Have you met with any of them yet?”
P: “Oh yes, we met with Peterson IT Services company.”
SP: “How did that go?”
P: “It was good – they gave me some ideas that we could do and are working up an estimate for me.”
SP: “Did they give you any idea of costs?”
P: “Yes they said it would run about $35,000.”
SP: “What did you think about that?”
P: “Well based on what they told me, I thought it made sense but my CFO went crazy. He said he wasn’t willing to spend that much.”
SP: “Did he give you an idea of how much he thought he wanted to spend?”
P: “Not really.”
SP: “Do you think you’d be able to ask him that before we meet tomorrow?”
P: “I’ll try.”
SP: “That would really be helpful to know and would help me determine what I suggest or I may need to say that, based on what you want, the cost is right in line with what you heard from Peterson. So knowing what he is willing to spend is really important.”
P: “I’ll try.”
SP: “Thank you. Have you had a chance to review our website?”
P: “Yes.”
SP: “Good. What did you see that you liked?”
P: “There is a lot of information there.”
SP: “Do you have questions at this point after reviewing our website?”
P: “Not at this time.”
SP: “If you haven’t already done so, please review our client list and case studies/sample projects on our website. In a few minutes, I’ll e-mail our meeting agenda to you along with our contact information for your convenience. We’re looking forward to meeting you in person.”

Closing the Call

SP: “Okay, great then I think we are all set. Thanks so much for your time and further insights on the project; I’ll see you tomorrow at 10am. We’re looking forward to meeting you in person.”

The appointment is set and the agenda has been reviewed.

The other potential outcome is that the prospect provides enough information for you to discern that they are not officially qualified and that the appointment should be canceled or postponed. If this is the case, you’ll want to identify if you may add them to the mailing list and when it will be best for you to check back with them (if applicable).


Everyone, the prospect, the sales person and the company, benefit from making confirmation calls. This ones step sets an organization apart from its competition. It sends a message that we, the company, are professional and that we respect and value the prospect/clients’ time. It establishes the initial rapport with the prospect/client, reviews the meeting agenda, confirms who will be attending the meeting and gathers more useful information that is important to know before the first meeting. Set yourself apart from your competition -- in the long run, it will pay off big time!

Author's Bio: 

Transform, Inc. was founded by Theresa Gale and Mary Anne Wampler in 1996. We provide business consulting in the areas of business development, change management, leadership, sales and customer relationship mastery programs as well as organizational design, development and efficiency consulting.