The Most Powerful Confirmation Tool You’ve Never Tried

Why don’t customers show up on time for meetings?

sales skills: handwritten notes make meetings happen

photo by Gajus/dpc


Over the past week, I’ve spent nearly 90 minutes waiting for clients who weren’t at their offices or stores when we arrived.

  • One forgot about the meeting and stayed home from work.
  • One wrote 10:00 on his calendar when we thought it was at 9:30.
  • One told us he had been waiting for us at the appointed day and time — a week earlier.

The account executives who had arranged the meetings were frustrated and embarrassed. They’d all been in touch with their clients in the days leading up the the appointment — some by email, some by phone.

All had, at my request, called the clients on the phone the day before or the day of to confirm the meeting.

It wasn’t enough.

Sales Skills:
It’s Time to Bring Back a 19th Century Tool

Those of us who remember selling in the 90’s or earlier were taught to send handwritten thank-you notes after meetings. I learned through experience that a handwritten note before a meeting increased the odds that the meeting took place.

It’s time to bring the handwritten note back.

The format is simple: one sentence that includes the date, time, and location of the meeting. It goes into an envelope with a stamp.

handwritten note to confirm a sales meeting

Photo by “Doctor” Phil Bernstein

Email is an ineffective way to confirm a meeting. Your prospects get dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of emails every day. They can’t read them all, and they don’t.

A phone message left with a gatekeeper has a 50/50 chance of being delivered.

As for voice mail… don’t get me started. An increasing number of otherwise-responsible businesspeople don’t bother listening to theirs.

The handwritten note beats email because it’ll be the only one your client gets that day. Unlike voice mail or email, your note will be noticed… and opened.

It gets past the gatekeeper and lands right on your prospect’s desk.

Three Tips To Get Maximum Power From Your Note

1. Send the note at least two days before the meeting. Even in town, it’ll take that long for the Postal Service to deliver it.

2. Always include a business card — in case your client has a conflict, the card gives her an easy way to contact you to reschedule.

3. Handwriting the address and putting a real stamp on the envelope makes it look more personal, and increases the chance it’ll get opened quickly.

It’s harder than ever to get your prospect’s attention and time these days. The handwritten note may be a 19th-century technology, but it’ll make a meeting happen in the 21st century.


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