NASE Blogs

Telephone Techniques to Increase Sales

Friday, March 11, 2011

Unless you're from an older generation, you probably don't remember when you could call a business and actually talk to a live person’s. A time when you didn't have to listen to a long list of questions and commands to punch numbers to "self guide" your call and talking to one recording after another. But hey, we live in the twenty-first century and that's technology on the move. While it may be technology on the move to some ... too much technology is a great way to build walls between a business and their customers and abuses one of the most powerful marketing devices to a business!

If you think the telephone is just another modern convenience that has taken the place of a quiver pen and parchment paper you're letting a valuable marketing tool go to waste. If you don't see that little wired box or cell phone as an important way to build your business you don’t really understand that the telephone is a slot machine for finding more customer dollars.

If you think the telephone is more technical than personal, and you don't think that people initially make their buying decisions from the image your business creates over the phone ... well, to use a phrase coined by one of the best selling gurus in the world, Zig Zigler, your subject to some "Stinkin Thinkin".

In today's mad rush to do more, do it cheaper, and do it with fewer people too many businesses have forgotten some basic concepts. We've forgotten what it takes to motivate people to do business with us and hand over their hard earned dollars. We've convinced ourselves that our customers don't care how we conduct business so long as we give them a decent product or service at the lowest price.

What we've really done is to forget that the most fundamental marketing doesn't start with a product or service. It doesn't start with how much something costs. It starts with a personal relationship we form with a customer. For many of us, that starts with the image we create when people pick up a telephone and call us.

Personally, I find it amazing that one of the best selling points small businesses promote is that "we give more personal service than big companies." Well if that's true, and it's such a hot selling point, I don't understand why so many small businesses try to emulate big business by using complicated telephone technologies and techniques.

Maybe I'm too sensitive or old-fashioned about basic customer courtesy, but I'll let you in on a secret, in case you haven't discovered it already ... the general public is getting tired of not being able to talk with real "live" people when they call a business. They're getting tired of going on safaris in the voice mail jungles. Their getting tired when they aren't treated with the responsiveness that screams ... we love our customers!

Little things like being talked to in a courteous manner, not being put on hold and then forgotten, and not having their calls returned on a timely basis. When you really think about it, the telephone is the first line of customer service for a business. Sadly, the telephone has also become a tool businesses use to NOT deal with their customers on a personal basis.

In some of my deepest safaris through the dark ravages of voice mail jungles, I know I'm calling a small business that has one telephone and pays a few dollars a month for their big business sounding technology. For some reason they feel that by making me think they're some big conglomerate, or have lots of people in their organization, they are going to impress me! What they're really doing is showing me that they are just as impersonal and uncaring as a big business.

While it the vast majority of businesses are converting to telephone technology ... which there is nothing wrong with until it starts to abuse the customer, there are some businesses that are learning the real value of keeping their telephone as a principal marketing tool. People who have learned that it isn't all that difficult to stand head-and-shoulders above other businesses just by having the RIGHT attitude about what their telephone can do for their business.

As an example, I have a friend who sells high dollar computer systems and is pretty successful. While a lot of people think that her success has a lot to do with being in the right place at the right time or that she has that "element of luck", I am here to tell you that her real secret of success is how she takes care of her business … and her customers. And, she does the majority of business interacting with her clients over her IPhone.

I wish you could hear her phone techniques. Whenever I call, she uses my name with such a genuine warmth you'd think that I'm her favorite person. She answers her own phone a good percentage of the time and on the rare occasion that I have to leave a message, she calls me back within two hours. If she can’t personally call me back, I get a call from her assistant to inform me of a delay and an offer for her to help. And a day never ends when a call has not been returned. So, is it a coincidence that she has such a high level of customer communications and a successful business? Perhaps, but she didn’t buy that five bedroom house, or take that three week trip to Europe by being inattentive to her customers. I know that one of the keys to Sandy’s success is her exceptional telephone etiquette and business attitude in how she responds to her customers’ needs.

How does your business rate on the "telephone satisfaction" scale? Is your business telephone just another technical device ... Or have you made it a money making machine. Most importantly, are your (and your employees) telephone techniques different than those that you are forced to deal with on a daily basis … and shake your head in disbelief as to how a business can stay in business when they treat their customer the way they do.

It doesn't really matter what you sell, widgets or personal services. Your telephone is not the first line of defense … it's the first line of opportunity. You can either use it like so many other businesses do (and be scorned by callers) or you can see it for what it really is, a marketing printing press for money.

The next time you hear your phone ring just remember … it might be me, or someone like me. If I get treated with respect and not just another interruption in a busy day, you've got a good chance of making a sale. If, on the other hand, you let some piece of technology intercept the call and hassle me … you'll probably end up with a caller ID message with "unknown caller" … which translates into LOST SALE!

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