The phone rings…
What do you think?
Is your first thought, "hear we go again- another tyre kicker", or is it "great- this could be the customer we've been waiting for!"
Not surprisingly your attitude prior to picking up the phone can have a self-defining outcome; that is," you get what you expect to get- less maybe, but no more".
At SMART Business Insurance we are constantly refining our business processes to be more customer friendly; including how to answer the phone with success. We are going to share with you what we've learnt, and hopefully help your business turn phone calls into dollars.
Before the phone call
Think about what's it taken to get your phone to ring in the first place. It's probably cost your business real dollars in advertising or a lot of time and effort to generate word of mouth referrals– so don't waste the opportunity.
Director of (Very) First Impressions
If the receptionist is the director of First Impressions whoever picks up the phone is Director of (Very) First Impressions. A phone contact in many businesses will come well before a visit to your business, so when the phone rings the person answering the call BECOMES YOUR BUSINESS for a first time prospect. Its your chance to create the impression that your business will be able to deliver on the promises that caused the prospect to choose to call your company in the first place.
"Great- this could be the customer we've been waiting for!"
By approaching the call with a positive outlook you are more likely to answer the phone quickly and with a smile on your face.
Your positive vibe can make the caller feel like you are genuinely happy to hear from them and set a warm collaborative tone for the call. Conversely your competitors who are thinking "hear we go again- another tyre kicker" may sound short and distracted to the caller, setting a cold, abrupt or even confrontational tone for the call.
Listen! Listen! LISTEN!
WELCOME the prospect, state your business name, your personal name and ask how you can help- then Listen! Listen! LISTEN!
Give the prospect time to explain their need fully. Don't jump straight in and go into sales mode the first chance you get.
Instead confirm to the prospect that you are listening closely to what they are saying by restating what they have initially told you. Also take the opportunity to get and confirm their contact details.
For example; "Thanks Jenny; you're after a plumber to fix a leak in your bathroom your phone number is 041X 041X 041X and is there anything else I need to know .
At this stage Jenny will most likely provide more detail:
For example," I need it done urgently but I am only home Wednesdays between 2-4pm"… At this stage its tempting to jump in but this is where it's important to dig a little further as the next bit of information is information your competitors probably didn't take the time to gather before they went in for the sell…
Ask simply, "Is there anything else YOU feel we need to know? " or if you feel you have built enough rapport "Is there anything else I need to know so that we can do a great job for you?" ..the prospect will typically pause ,and on reflection answer something like " the plumber I normally use is good BUT I hate it how he leaves a mess"..
You may want to rephrase the questions above to suit your style but what you are trying to find out is the underlying reason WHY the prospect has called you and/or WHY they are shopping around.
Give the caller every chance to provide you with the information to:
- Better qualify the call
- Meet the UNDERLYING need
- Sound like a pro
Sound like a pro
Now you have the information you need from the caller you are able to sound like a pro in your field as you are in a position to meet their specific needs.
You KNOW what you are doing…but it's still not time to assume that the caller knows that. To win more work you now need to give the prospect the confidence that you handle jobs like theirs everyday by clearly going through the steps of how you will provide your service (even if you sell products).
For example, "Jenny, what we will do is A, B and C." That is, A. this is HOW we will go about your job, B. this is WHEN we will do it C. these are the COSTS." Clear communication helps remove doubt from prospects and encourages them to buy from you.
Deliver on promises
When you LISTEN carefully and don't jump in to too quickly you give yourself the chance to find out MORE than what your competitors know about the opportunity.
By having this information you can then adapt your approach to meet the callers underlying need.
For example, as you listened for long enough to know that Jenny "hates mess"… you finished the HOW part of what you do…with …." and then we'll give the bathroom a mop and take away all our rubbish with us"
You WIN the job. You come on time. Fix the leak. Leave the bathroom tidy. And charge Jenny fairly- including the clean-up time, as you know she values this.
Next time the phone rings it may be someone Jenny referred to you- and they are READY to buy from you.
Turning phone calls into dollars is both an art and a learned skill. Done properly, over time it can help turn your business into the business you dream of.
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