As a marketing coach, I did some work with the owner of a catering firm who wanted to systematize his company’s sales and service operations by writing an easy-to-use, reader-friendly but detailed procedure manual. Not compliance or transaction-related, but just the day-to-day “how we do things around here” kind of manual. A snapshot of the cultural DNA, if you will.
So far, so good.
He saw immediately how this manual could raise the bar on everyone’s performance at his company and make smarter marketing, excellent customer service and savvy selling a consistent, always-on capability, and not a once-in-a-while accident!
When we started talking about the way his employees handled inbound telephone calls, he wanted to label that section, “Answer the Damn Phone” because so many of his people considered phone calls an interruption and they were always complaining about getting their cooking, prep, and delivery tasks done while “the damn phone” was ringing all the time.
Hmmm… can you see where this is leading?
You should worry a lot more about business that falls through your fingers than business that you don’t win.
It’s the missed sales opportunities that cost small businesses more money than the customers they compete for but don't close.
See if you can spot the missed sales opportunities in the following two stories from my colleague Ed Peters of the 4Profit Institute. (Hint: it won’t be difficult!)
Marketing News magazine made 5,000 telephone calls to Yellow Page advertisers requesting price information on a particular product.
Here’s what they discovered:
- 56% didn’t answer within eight rings
- 8% put the caller on hold for more than two minutes
- 11% couldn’t provide the price information requested
- 34% provided the price and then hung up
- 78% did not even ask the caller’s name
- Have you ever studied how your phones are answered?
- Who is answering?
- What are they saying, doing, and asking on the initial call?
Here’s a missed sales opportunity up close and personal: A few weeks before Ed moved, he called six banks that were within walking distance of his new office. He told them he’d be moving two business and two personal savings and checking accounts, and two other accounts for his kids. He told them that he did not want marketing brochures but a personalized response to his specific business and personal needs.
RESULT: Only two of the six banks responded! And the two that did sent -- guess what -- their marketing brochures!
He needed a bank fast, so he called the two banks that responded. One promised to call him back but never did and the other one put him in contact with their relocation department (where he should have been referred in the first place). Guess who got Ed’s business?
Questions for you:
- Do you respond to all qualified requests for information?
- Do you respond promptly?
- Do you respond accurately and give a personalized response, or does every request get the same off-the-shelf response?
- Do you follow-up after every request?
What's been your experience with inbound calls and inquiries? Please use the COMMENTS section below and...