How often do you hear: “I am just in the planning stage” or “let me call you back” or “thank you for the information, I will be in touch”, and you never hear back from them again. What they are really saying is “I am not buying from you”, probably due to something you said or the way they were treated.
If this happens frequently; you may want to do a little personal introspection. Some reasons for this behavior may be due to poor phone skills or perhaps a lack of professionalism.The sad news, some small businesses really don’t understand or appreciate this; they simply decide they aren’t changing their modus operandi. These are the businesses that barely squeak by, never truly realizing their “true” potential. The harsh truth is, that’s OK; this gives customer focused businesses like you a leg up on these companies.
If you are a small business that understands a need to improve in this area, fantastic! This article may give you some ideas to try out. Here are a couple of ideas to increase interest and hopefully sales:
1) Professional Greeting (phone etiquette 101, right?)
If you are not good on the phone or enjoy talking to people, find someone who is. This sounds harsh, but many small business owners choose to handle this very important task and fail miserably. Answer the phone as if your business success depends on it (because it does!)…such as: “Good afternoon, this is Bob at ABC Roofing, how can I help you today?” or “Thank you for calling ABC Roofing, my name is Bob, how can I help you today?”
This simple opening lets the caller know that they have reached a professional company that is willing to help them solve a problem. Next, ask them their name and remember it and use it throughout the conversation. This displays warmth and caring, and that you are concerned about them and their problem.
2) Develop Rapport
The potential customer should feel like they are in good hands and have contacted the right company. A proven method is through customer engagement.
- Acknowledge – listen to their issue or problem
- Questions – asking clarifying questions to understand their issue or problem
- Support – yes we can help you with your issue or problem
- Temperature check – describe their problem back to them
- Transition – secure follow-up appointment for on-site estimate or introduce your companies service or product
Keep potential customers on the phone for as long as necessary to understand their issue or problem. Small talk is okay after the heart of the discussion has taken place.
3) ABC’s of Sales
Always Be Closing. Make no mistake; there is an art to knowing when to ask for the business. Learn what those buying signals are for your product or service. If you rent dumpsters and your customer says, “I need a dumpster by Monday of next week”. This statement is a clear buying signal.
Trial closes are also very beneficial as you maneuver to a sale. Trial closes are getting minor agreements throughout the conversation. The more minor agreements or acknowledgements you receive, the easier it is to ask for the business.
These “best practices” are not new or novel, just a reminder how everyday interactions with customers should be handled. Remember, people buy from people they like and trust.