A phone call is the number one conversion many businesses want from their prospects. But, when they do call you, does someone answer the phone? And when your staff does speak to prospects, are they asking the right questions to qualify them and move them toward a purchase? Here are a few call handling best practices every business should follow.
The simplest answer is often the right one. Simply answer the phone when it rings, and you’re already ahead of the game. But too often, phones go unanswered, letting them ring and ring. Or, they send calls straight to voicemail. And let’s be honest – how often do you really check those messages and return calls? The truth is, if you don’t return a call within the hour, the chances you ever will drop by 10x – which probably means a lost lead.
So, don’t be that business. Want to get more phone leads? Designate someone to answer your phones during business hours. And if you absolutely can’t, check your messages within an hour and call back any prospects. You might be amazed at how many of them will be impressed by your quick follow up.
2. Where Are You Located?
This is a question many business overlook, but one that’s important nonetheless. For local service businesses, knowing whether a prospective customer is within their service area is important for knowing if they’re a good lead. For instance, if a prospect is looking for a weekly lawn service, but they are 20 miles away, it may not be worth it for you to take them on as a client. Or, if the caller is looking for a plumber in Peoria, but mistakenly called one in Rockford, it’s important to know up front so you’re not wasting yours or the caller’s time.
Asking your prospects’ location could also provide key insights into your marketing efforts. For service businesses, maybe you’re getting too many calls from outside your target location, which may mean you need to adjust your advertising’s geo-targeting or locally-optimize your website. Or, if you have a local shop and find more people are calling you form the next town over, but you’re not advertising there, it might be a good idea to start, which could bring in even more leads and customers.
3. How Did You Hear About Us?
If you don’t have a way to automatically track the sources of your marketing efforts, a good start is to ask prospects how they heard about your business. Was it from your website’s organic search link? A paid advertisement? Once you know, have a way to record the marketing sources so you can evaluate their effectiveness over time. If you are paying money for a newspaper ad, but all your prospects are finding you online, it may be time to reallocate some of your marketing budget to whatever’s the most effective at bringing you leads.
4. What’s Your Email Address?
If you don’t have an email marketing or lead nurturing system in place, it’s time to get one. In fact, 91% of U.S. consumers use email on a daily basis. But, you can’t send emails to anyone if you don’t first collect their email address. If your caller isn’t ready to buy from you, following up with marketing emails like coupons, tips, customer testimonials, and more can help convince them to work with you so you can close the sale. And if they do buy from you, you can use emails to remind them of which review sites you’re on so they’re more likely to leave you a positive review. Or, use a follow up email to tell them about your referral or customer loyalty programs so they tell others about you and buy from you again.
5. How Soon Are You Looking to Buy?
If your lead isn’t ready to buy right away, asking prospects this simple question will help you determine what stage of their buying journey they are in. Making note of this stage is key to knowing how quickly and how often to follow up with them – as well as what method might be most effective. For short-term or active leads, following up immediately with a thank you email and within a few days with a phone call might impress them and help you get the sale. For long-term leads, use lead nurturing emails to remind them of what you have to offer, but don’t be afraid to stay in touch over the phone – being proactive may be what it takes to turn them into a new customer.