Getting customers to call your business for a job isn’t easy. That’s why many business owners decide to team up with an online advertising agency to help them generate leads. However, generating leads is only half the battle. Once the leads come in, it’s the business’s responsibility to close the deal. If you miss a lot of calls, you’re missing out on jobs—and essentially paying your advertiser for nothing. At Prospect Genius, our extensive data show that a large percentage of local businesses aren’t picking up their phones. Because lead generation is what we do, we track our clients’ leads and phone calls as a measure of campaign performance. In reviewing this data, we observed that virtually every one of our clients has missed a prospective customer call at least once. This is a troublesome trend, but it’s also understandable. We believe that a constant barrage of solicitor phone calls is to blame for business owners’ reluctance to answer their phones. As business owners ourselves, we’ve noticed firsthand that the current volume of solicitor phone calls has become overwhelming. As a result, business owners aren’t jumping up to answer their phones every time they ring. But here’s the hard truth: While avoiding the phone may solve your solicitor problem, it creates an even bigger problem for your company’s finances. If you want to book jobs and make money, you simply must answer your phone.
Missed Calls = Lost Revenue
Why are missed calls such a big problem? When you don’t answer your phone, you’re essentially sending that customer to a competitor. Prospective customers call around when they need a job performed, and they’ll keep calling local businesses until they finally book one. If their call goes to voice mail, they’ll likely move on to the next company on their list, unless they promptly receive a call back. When this happens, you not only miss out on that one job—you also miss out on any future business from that customer and potential word-of-mouth referrals they could share. For businesses that see a lot of repeat customers (appliance repairmen, HVAC contractors, and cleaning services, for example), this is a tremendous loss. Plus, unanswered calls make prospects feel undervalued, causing them to have a negative experience with your brand. What do you think the chances are that they will ever call you back in the future? If your average job nets you $100, you’re effectively writing a $100 check to your competitor every time you fail to answer a prospect’s call!
Think You’re an Exception to the Rule?
Think again. Across the board, across all industries, our clients are missing valuable calls. No one is exempt. To show how severe this issue really is, we sampled some of our most prominent client industries and noted their percentage of missed calls. Take a look:
- Automotive repair: 60% of all calls were missed
- Construction: 87% of all calls were missed
- Electrical: 39% of all calls were missed
- Handyman services: 58% of all calls were missed
- Landscaping: 58% of all calls were missed
- Plumbing: 35% of all calls were missed
Just about every business commits this faux pas at some time or another.
Avoid Solicitors Without Avoiding Customers
Yes, solicitor calls are a major problem for small businesses, but ducking your calls isn’t the way to handle it. Here are some alternatives.
Answer Your Phone
A human-to-human connection is what’s most important to prospective customers when they’re looking for a service provider, so do whatever it takes to ensure that someone answers your phone when it rings. You can do this by having your advertising calls sent to multiple phone numbers at the same time, or by routing your calls to your cell or office when it makes sense. Many phone systems even allow you to ring multiple phones at once or in a sequence. For Prospect Genius clients, this is a free option that can be enabled at any time just by calling us. If none of these options seems viable, you can always opt for a low-cost answering service that takes your calls and messages on your behalf. Many are available in the range of $1 per call, making this a surprisingly affordable option. Plus, it can weed out 100% of the solicitor calls that you’re trying to avoid. You can also combine these two options and route calls to yourself and the answering service at the same time. That way, if you can pick up, then you save the $1; if not, you don’t necessarily lose the customer.
Set Up Your Voice Mail
Since it’s difficult to guarantee that you’ll answer your phone every single time, it’s crucial to establish a backup system. First and foremost, set up your voice mail. That means activating it and creating a professional greeting that will give your prospects a strong first impression. Here’s a script we highly recommend:
“Hi, you’ve reached [company name]. At the moment, we’re giving our full attention to another customer. If you leave us a message, we’ll return your call as soon as possible and give you our full attention, as well. Thank you and have a nice day!”
If a prospect does leave a message, you must call them back as soon as possible, preferably within 15–20 minutes. You should also clean out your voice mailbox occasionally. If it gets full, it won’t allow new callers to leave a message! Prospect Genius clients have the option to use a separate voice mail for all calls sent from us. The recording is then e-mailed to them for them to check, thus keeping their personal and business calls separate.
Don’t Neglect Your E-Mail
These days, e-mail is just as important as the phone, if not more so. Growing numbers of people are simply more comfortable communicating via e-mail, so that’s how they opt to contact local businesses. If you don’t check your e-mail regularly, then you’re bound to miss out on a substantial number of leads. If checking your e-mail is too much of a headache because you’re often out on a job, there are several tools available to make it easier. For instance, Prospect Genius clients have the option to have all e-mail leads read to them over the phone, eliminating the need to check their e-mail. You can also create an auto-reply that will send an immediate response to prospects when they e-mail you. If you prefer the phone to e-mail, then you can even use your auto-reply to instruct prospects to call you at a specified number. For example, your auto-reply email could say:
“Thanks for contacting us. Due to the nature of our work, we are better able to respond to phone calls. Please contact us at 555-123-1234 so we can best serve your needs.”
Prospect Genius Has Solutions
Prospect Genius offers convenient, easy-to-use tools that deliver many of the above solutions. Anyone enrolled in our lead generation program has access to them through our Client Portal. These tools include:
- Extra metered phone lines
- Call routing
- E-mail-to-phone notifications
- Missed call notifications via text or e-mail
- Call logs and recordings
Many of the solutions are well within your own power—like creating a professional voice mail greeting and responding to e-mails and missed calls—but we have professionally designed tools that will make those tasks much simpler. No advertiser can succeed for you on their own. You’ve got to look at any campaign as a partnership and uphold your end of the bargain—which largely means answering the calls they send you. Invest in your business by answering calls and e-mails to capture the maximum number of leads for your company.