A business owner who had invested a lot of money into marketing once sought my advice after all those dollars failed to yield results. We did some investigating and found that 45 percent of his sales calls were abandoned before they received a live voice. This was a surprising discovery, to say the least.
With few sales returns and no idea what marketing campaigns had brought in the calls he did receive, the owner began to realize the importance of mapping out his telephone answering processes to improve his lead capture rate. In particular, we identified and remedied these four areas:
Confusing Telephone Menu Systems
We began with a review of what callers heard when the phone system picked up and walked through each menu option to test ease-of-use. The business owner decided that any caller who chose “sales” should be routed directly and immediately to live answering.
Telephone Navigation Resulted in Voicemail
Sales calls were assigned to specific extensions and an overflow path to an outsourced call center was implemented when employees could not get to their calls. This was particularly helpful for keeping track of prospects in other time zones that called after local business hours.
No Consistent Process for Qualifying Prospects
To prevent salespeople from spending time pursuing prospects they would never close, we created a lead form that everyone – including the outsourced call center – uses consistently. The first two questions determine if prospects are qualified for appointment scheduling. When prospects do qualify, they are scheduled immediately via an online appointment book.
An Inability to Determine the Most Effective Marketing Campaigns
The source of every lead was entered into a web-enabled contact management package. Future prospect touches, sales pipeline reporting, and marketing metrics all benefited from this added layer of transparency.
These four process changes resulted in a dramatic improvement. Abandoned call rate dropped to nearly zero while appointment scheduling jumped 30 percent. Improved lead tracking also led to more cost-effective marketing decisions.
Unfortunately, like we saw here, business owners often do not realize that their company is losing valuable telephone sales leads. Just because an owner has not heard about any problems does not mean those problems do not exist. Partnering with an effective lead capture answering service may be an option to consider if you are facing similar challenges.
This blog was written by Laurie Leonard, the President of SUITE 1000, a U.S. based national telephone answering service, inbound call center and outsourced call center service. Her company has specialized in handling legal intake, sales leads, email lead response, appointment scheduling, customer service and help desk calls for over 20 years.