Want More Business? Start Answering Your Phone

telephoneI was speaking with a colleague recently about our individual business goals for 2010, and she shared that one of her goals for the New Year is to generate more business from prospects who call her directly to get information on her services.

This seems like a great goal, especially when you consider how often we’re unprepared for incoming prospect calls and fail to focus on the natural sales opportunities they present.

When you’re busy, answering the phone tends to become a lesser priority, but it may result in lost opportunities.

There are some very easy ways to maximize your time on the phone with a prospect and capitalize on their qualified interest in you and your services.

Answer the Phone

How often do you let incoming calls roll over to voicemail? Sure, you can always call prospects back, but if you never pick up the phone when a potential client is ready to move forward, you’re missing out on a tremendous opportunity. Try taking as many incoming calls as possible in order to benefit from the “readiness” of the caller.

Gather Basic Information

There is standard information you should collect from every caller, and sometimes it can be difficult to remember all of the questions you want to ask when you’re on a live call. This is why having a caller information sheet or checklist is vital.

At a minimum, your informational form should include the caller’s name, address, telephone number, email address, information about their business, date of the call, how they found you and what services they are interested in.

Prepare a Loose Script

While each call will be different from the next, you can prepare a general outline for how you envision prospect calls to progress. This can help you be prepared to field questions, get important information and make sure you’re giving the caller the information they need to make a decision. Your script can be incorporated into your caller information sheet so you have everything in one place.

Ask Questions

Don’t wait for the caller to volunteer the reason for their call and all of the details about what they need. Ask questions right away to help the call progress smoothly and to begin to build a rapport with the caller. Guide the caller as they provide the information you need while sharing details about what you do and how you work that will help them figure out if you’re the right person to work with them.

Listen Closely

Don’t ask questions for the sake of filling the silence. Listen closely to what the caller is saying and respond accordingly. While you may have your loose script in front of you to help you guide the call, avoid being tied to it. Let the call flow naturally.

Outline Next Steps

Before ending every call, discuss what will happen next. Will you send the caller a recap of the call via email? Do you need to schedule a time to talk again? Make sure you identify exactly what will happen next and then follow through. Don’t let the time you spent on the phone be wasted by lack of following up and confusion about what to do next.

Do you receive a lot of phone inquiries from prospects? How do you make the most of these opportunities?

Image credit: otjep

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  • http://steve-seo-uk.blogspot.com Koolsteve

    Giving multiple options for a follow up call or appointment works best for me.
    I suggest a couple of future times and dates and make sure I do follow up when I say.

    Great article on a subject that isn’t talked about enough in this age of email and text.

    NB: Have RT’d tweet.

  • Anonymous

    2009 was an interesting year in that as the economy got worse, so did customer service, which was shocking to me. I picked up 4 new clients last year simply because I did answer the phone and the people they called before me did not.

  • http://ximen.net63.net/mardigrasbeads/ SHAYLA

    I’ve been looking all over for this!

    Thanks.

  • Eric_HE

    in a word it’s the art of communication