How to turn incoming calls into increased sales

Posted: 14th March 2018

How to turn incoming calls into increased sales

By Jan Cavelle

We all work incredibly hard at our marketing.   We may well work hard at presentations and even attack the “dreaded” cold calling.  But one area of sales that can easily be overlooked is the handling of incoming enquiries.  This can be an expensive oversight.  The people who make the effort to contact you are your hottest of hot prospects.   They are interested right here, right now, way down deep into your sales funnel.

Perhaps you are mainly internet based, with a small customer service department.  Perhaps you are a small company with everyone leaping to answer the phone when it rings.   The handling of incoming calls can easily be overlooked.  The reality is that anyone, in any job, who speaks to one of your customers, should actually had some training on how to sell and be excited by the prospect of a sale.   Otherwise, you are giving your hottest leads to people who have no idea what to do with them.  And that is a pretty frightening thought.

Here are some top tips to ensure those leads stay hot and turn into maximum sales:

  1. Answer incoming calls quickly, and briefly. When someone calls your company, they form an impression about you within the first 30 seconds to a minute on the line.  That is the time you have to impress your potential buyers.  Not long.  So it has to be right.  A few companies let their staff ramble on when they answer.  Time is too short these days and it is easy to turn your keen caller into an impatient and bad-tempered one.
  2. Never use a script. Scripts make the listener know they are just a number; there is nothing personal in a script.
  3. The company name has to be really clear. Often we are calling up a number without having really registered the company name.  Right from the opener is the time you have the chance to ensure it is emblazoned into your customer’s brain.
  4. Whoever answers needs to sound warm, friendly and professional. Sounds obvious – but how many companies fail at this?   People who answer the phone must also be smiling, because it shows up in the voice.  They must be sitting upright or standing to get plenty of breath and energy into the lungs.
  5. They need to sound interested. We have all spoken to some bored sounding customer service person at some stage.   That boredom in the voice will guarantee you will lose the caller’s interest.  If you let people answer the phone in their own style, they are less likely to get bored and mumble.
  6. Muzak and pre-recorded messages apologising for the delay are all labour saving devices in this digital age, supposedly designed to keep waiting people happy. Consider instead how much happier your potential customer is going to be if they don’t have to wait.  If you put someone on hold, make it clear why, check the customer is happy with that and never leave them on hold for more than about 30 seconds, otherwise they are losing interest and getting annoyed.
  7. Make sure anyone answering phones for you understands the art of listening, two ears and one mouth are to be used in that proportion.
  8. Live chat is great but needs to be played by the same rules. Quick , relevant responses from human beings who sound interested .  Real people with their personalities coming through builds trust.
  9. Many enquiries come in by email rather than phone. It is dead easy to email back, in theory – but incredibly hard to get this good enough.   Firstly you have to ensure your emailed responses are next to immediate or lose to a competitor with live chat.  Second, anyone responding by email has to have good enough writing skills to make their voice heard, and (again) to make that personality shine.   Otherwise, you are not building a relationship.  Ideally, ring back first and confirm by email afterwards.    An email back can say – this is the product, this is the price, take it or leave it.  An email back does not sell.

Selling is a several step process in which you build trust and build relationships with your customer, nurturing your customer’s interest and desire, and discovering their motivation.   None of those things can be done by a cold email or someone with zero training (and little interest) answering your phones.

Re-think and re-check how you handle your enquiries, your hottest of hot leads.  Ask yourself if you are throwing away vital opportunities or if there is a little more you could do by simply reviewing the way you respond and see it as a vital part of the sales process.