Best Practices for Using Microsoft Outlook from a Sales Perspective

Arrow-Tip #32 Use Meeting Requests to Set Client Expectations

While working with a member of one of my client sales teams this week I was reminded of a little trick I learned years ago to help prevent no shows for sales meetings – use an Outlook Meeting Request as opposed to an email to schedule meetings with prospective clients.

I went on some great calls last week with a member of one of my client’s sales team. We uncovered some great opportunities, but when we got to the final appointment of the day, our prospect was a no-show. This is the kind of thing that can happen to anyone (especially at a petrochemical facility with a hurricane approaching from the Gulf), but one way to help prevent it is if the prospect actually has your meeting on their Outlook Calendar. “How? ” you’re thinking – glad you asked!

Appointment Automatically Appears on Calendar

When you send an Outlook meeting request as opposed to a regular email, the meeting is automatically placed on the recipient’s Outlook Calendar by default. The meeting will appear as tentative for the recipient until it is accepted or declined, however, it is still there on the calendar where the recipient can see it as part of his schedule.

Reminder Can Be Set

You can set a reminder for the meeting which will go off for the recipient before your meeting. If this is a prospect who tends to cancel meetings at the last minute, you may want to set the reminder further in advance such as a full day or half day so that if they do need to cancel, you will have time to schedule something else for that time slot. Also, if your prospect synchronizes his PDA or smart phone with Outlook, he’ll get an alarm there as well to help remember his commitment to you.

Prospect Can Foresee Conflicts

Meeting requests allow the recipient to check their schedule at the time they are received, helping them foresee conflicts immediately (see calendar button on meeting request tool bar in thumbnail below). Meeting Requests also facilitate proposing a new time for your meeting which makes it easier for the prospect to not blow off the meeting all together.

Meeting Request

Set Agenda

You can set the duration of the meeting in a Meeting Request to let the prospect know how much or your own time you will have and how much of their time you will need. Don’t make the assumption that your prospect doesn’t have much time for you – during one of our calls last week, a client actually gave us a great opportunity to tour their facility, but we had to run off to another meeting instead. Had we sent a meeting request, the client could have responded back asking if we wanted to schedule more time for a tour.

You can also list topics for the meeting in the Meeting Request Notes field so as to allow the prospect to better prepare for your meeting – that way they can have some support materials available to better help you understand their needs.


Calls where you are forced to leave a message or drop off material for your prospect rather than meeting with them in person are a huge missed opportunity. Since face to face appointments with prospective clients are the bread and butter of any sales person’s work week – anything you can do to make sure that time is spent productively is well worth the effort.

This post was written by MistyKhan and published on August 30, 2008 in the following categories: Arrow Tips, Calendar, Front Page. You can leave trackbacks on this post at this address. To follow the comments on this post subscribe to the RSS feed.


Great idea! I just wish someone would come up with something like this for Google calendar and for my mac’s apple calendar, since I don’t use outlook anymore.


Cheryl Antiero

I wish Entourage / Outlook for Macs was more like Outlook for Windows too – I get a lot of requests for Huntress for Macintosh. The good news is that you can now run parallels for Macs which will allow you to keep a Window open on your Mac with Outlook running in Windows. Even I am thinking about getting a Mac now!


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