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Improving Prospect Response – The Phone

A sound marketing approach includes strong communication.  Your phone – landline or cell – should be utilized to maximum effectiveness.  While it’s not always possible to take every phone call, making it a top priority will improve prospect response and opportunity for new business.

We’ve all experienced frustration when seeking out help for our own projects.  Busy Signal?  They are still around!  Garbled message?  We’ve heard them.  Loud on-hold music?  Sometimes enjoyable, but not on the phone!  A disinterested phone answerer who puts us into voicemail?  Too many of those to count!  A message taker who doesn’t take a complete message?  Lots of those as well!

While one of the most utilized business tools is the phone, it’s quite likely that as long as  it works, we don’t give it much thought. Implementing best phone practices will maximize the likelihood of landing new business.  Let’s look at a few.

When is the last time you called your business phone?  This may sound silly but really, have you called your office and listened as a client would?  Your phone and voicemail is the first point of contact a prospect or client will make with you.  Is your phone system helping or hurting your business?

10 phone tips to put to the test:

telephone

The way it was

  1. Busy signal or rings, rings, rings.  What?  No voicemail?  Yes, we have experienced this and this one should speak for itself.
  2. Does the voicemail system pick up promptly?  Callers often hang up if there is no answer after 5 or 6 rings.
  3. Voicemail that is automated (from your service provider) which states “you have reached [insert phone number].  Leave a message“.  A voicemail message should verify that the caller has reached the correct contact, state the business name and any other relevant information.  Anything less and the message may be dismissed as either “not a real business” or a wrong number.
  4. Do you transfer calls to your cell when you are out?  Be sure your mobile number also has a business voicemail message EVEN if you also use your cell for personal.  Your friends will understand.
  5. Voicemail states that you are away and will return on a specific date that has already passed!  Don’t forget these details when you return to your office.
  6. That mailbox is full.  Oops, there went that potential client…
  7. An answering service that says “he/she is out of the office, would you like their voicemail“.  If you employ an answering service, get your bang for your buck.  Have them take a personal message, tell the caller when you will be returning or retrieving your messages, and then have them thank the caller.  Remember they are representing your business.
  8. Be sure your phone system is easy to navigate. Have someone outside of your business call and give you feedback. Sometimes it’s more obvious to an outsider than someone already familiar with your system navigation.
  9. If you’re using VOIP, check the sound quality.  No watery voice message, please.
  10. Ever been on hold and had to hold the phone away from your ear because the music was SO LOUD?  If you use on-hold music, review volume and style.

The best test is to ask your customer or prospect about their experience in reaching you.  They will tell you if they held too long, didn’t understand your message options or if everything was just right.  Most importantly,  try to return the call as quickly as possible, typically 24 hours is acceptable.  Let customers and prospects know the best times to reach you for future communication.