When it comes to most service-based businesses, the money is in the phone call. By that I mean all of the marketing expenses come down to making the phone ring. When you add up the lifetime value of your clients, that call can be worth thousands of dollars.
The problem is, many service providers suck at converting the sale over the phone. I have broken down some of the basic foundational rules when dealing with prospects on the phone.
Get the customer’s contact information right away!
If you got a quote on a service and decided not to buy, would you give them your contact info if they asked? Of course not. There is a reason why you’ve decided not to proceed. This is why you ask for the contact info right away. If they decline your offer, you can follow up.
Getting their info is easy, start your conversation with this. “In case our call get’s disconnected, may I get your name and number?”
Get the appointment booked
This is important if you’re a mechanic, plumber, electrician or another service provider. If your service requires you to troubleshoots issues don’t give quotes over the phone if you can avoid it.
If you have to, give them the lowest starting price. “_________ service starts at $_______, to give you an accurate quote I’d need to look at your issue in person. Can I book you in today or tomorrow to look at it?”
When you tell them on the phone “It can be from $200 to $400, depending on…” you are making a huge mistake. If someone quotes the lower amount, you very likely to lose the job. If your competition gives a price figure and you give a range, you now come off as being wishy-washy. Always give the lowest starting price and explain you can give them an exact price once you see the issue first hand. To do that, you need to book a time to look at it.
Answer the phone as fast as you can.
Clients in front of you have more patience than potential customers on the phone. Customers who have hired you decided to use you to get work done. The customer on the phone is trying to find someone and has no patience in leaving a voicemail. You can ask the customer in front of you if they mind that you grab this call. If this only happens once or twice your customer will tolerate it. If it happens more often, you should consider hiring help to answer the phone.
Always be polite on the phone and ask for permission.
This is a huge pet peeve of mine that businesses do all the time. I call and they answer with “Johnny’s Electrical, please hold!”. They throw me on hold without bothering to hear if I’m ok with it. If this happens while I’m in need of urgent service, you bet I’m going to hang up and call the next business. Ask if they can hold, then wait to get their permission. They will say yes and not be irritated if you’re polite about it. Put all other calls that are not customers on hold. Never put your customer on hold if at all possible.
Smile before you pick up the phone.
It actually works, as far fetched as it sounds. People can hear your smile through the phone and that will put them at ease. Your customers could be under a lot of stress when calling you. Something as simple as the tone in your voice will set the tone for the rest of the call.
Create a standard greeting script.
You never get a second chance to make a first good impression they say. A greeting script ensures a consistent first impression with every call. Make sure it’s repeatable and professional. It should also contain your USP (Unique Selling Proposition).
“Thanks for calling Johnny’s Auto Shop, where every service comes with a free car wash and our 3-year guarantee. How can I help you?”
The whole idea of your script is to make the caller know that you’re different. If they’re calling other service providers, why didn’t they offer that unique thing?
Here are some great books to improve your phone skills.