Have Pre-Established Prompts. Throughout the business day, many employees have the opportunity to answer the phone. How are your employees responding to questions they can’t answer? Is everyone set up for success in these situations? Having pre-established prompts is a great way to ensure that you’re getting the most out of every single phone call that comes in. A good answering service will work with you to establish your frequently asked questions to be sure that they’ve got a prompt for every scenario. Studies show that putting a customer on hold to check for information implies that the company and its representatives are uninformed and unprofessional. Using a highly trained answering service can rid your company once and for all of the “uhhh”s and “umm”s that come from fumbling to answer a question correctly. Ultimately, your company looks more professional and knowledgeable, and everyone wants to work with a professional.
Have a follow-up protocol. Here’s another scenario for you. You’ve got your receptionist working on proofreading a press release that has to go out at 3pm. At 2:30, the phone rings, and it’s someone who wants more information about one of your products or services. You’ve stepped out. The receptionist can shoot the caller to your voicemail, and risk losing them, or he or she can take a message. She chooses to take a message but forgets to write it down. She continues proofreading because it’s now 15 minutes from her deadline. You arrive back to work at 3:15, and you have no messages. Your new lead is forever lost. Using an answering service to provide you with immediate notification via call-forwarding, or text or email messages about prospects would be a smart choice. You’ll never miss a follow-up again!
Capture Data – Using the same scenario above, let’s think about some other things that didn’t happen on that call. She didn’t get contact information, for you to be able to call the prospect back. She didn’t find out what specific products or services the prospect was interested in. These are all helpful tools for you to qualify a lead, and cut your work load in half. If you had worked with an answering service, you’d have that information at your fingertips, any time of day, ready for you to make the call and start the sales process.
Develop Rapport – This is one of the single most important aspects of qualifying sales leads. Remember, people buy from people they know, like, and trust. If you want to convert inbound calls into a solid lead, you’ve got to have someone with personality on the other end of the phone. A simple “so how’s your day going today?” can stop a prospect in their tracks, and is a nice touch to making them feel valued and important.
Don’t try to sell over the phone! Everyone wants to buy, but no one wants to be sold. When capturing information from a lead, it’s always best to ask questions, as many questions as you can, to learn more about the person calling. This should be a mix of personal (if you hear a dog barking, ask what type of dog they have… don’t just ask if they have dogs out of the blue) and professional (what the reason for their call is). Hiring an answering service can help you with capturing information rather than selling over the phone. The selling is where you come in once it’s a qualified lead!