Does your company have a “sales prevention department”?

When prospective customers call, there are often barriers in the way of their becoming customers.

When prospective customers call, there are often barriers in the way of their becoming customers.

For example, the prospective customer might be caught in “voice mail hell.” The telephone rings and rings and no one picks it up. Or the prospective customer is left on hold for what feels like forever. The customer gets so frustrated he or she tries to find help somewhere else.

In some cases, a sympathetic employee might suggest that your business is too expensive and refer the prospective customer to a competitor!

Getting a prospective customer, client or patient (for this post, “customer”) to call can be an expensive proposition. You might have paid for an advertisement, a web site, or other promotional efforts. That prospective customer represents a return on the promotional investment and the future revenue for your business.

These issues are indications that the process of welcoming a prospective customer hasn’t been thought through to develop a reliable system of getting them onboard, or that employees haven’t been properly trained and supervised.

What is the objective when a prospective customer calls? Shouldn’t it be to get their name, telephone number, the purpose of their call, how they found out about your company and to make an appointment to see them?

A script should be written for the receptionist with a process to get this information.

For example: Good morning, XYZ Company, this is Sally Smith. (The prospective customer will usually respond with “Good morning, this is Jack Customer.”) Hello Mr. Customer, may I ask how you found out about our company? (I found you by searching on the internet.) Oh, we have so many people find us like that! May I ask why you are calling us today? (My computer is broken and I need it fixed.) We would be glad to help you with that or find someone who can. Mr. Boss can meet with you tomorrow at 1 p.m. or 3 p.m. Which time is better for you? (I really need it fixed today. Is that possible?) Well, we are repairing a lot of computers right now, but we’ll try. Can you come by and see Mr. Backup in about an hour? (That would be great!) May I have your telephone number please? (It’s XXX-XXX-XXXX.) O.K. Before I let you go, do you have a pen or pencil and some paper so that I can confirm some pertinent details? (O.K.) Your name is Jack Customer. You found us by an internet search. Your telephone number is XXX-XXX-XXXX. You have an appointment to meet Mr. Backup in an hour about fixing your broken computer. Our address is XXXX Ready Drive, Suite 101, Anytown. Our telephone number is XXX-XXX-XXXX. Is that correct? (Yes.) We’ll look forward to seeing you in an hour!

Employees will often fight using a script like this. This must be part of their training, and should be role-played regularly. They should keep a copy at their desk. You (or their supervisor or trainer) must explain that dealing with customers is a performance and they should think of themselves as actors learning a part.

Alternatives can be developed for when the customer doesn’t respond according to plan, but every effort must be made to get the customer back on the script.

The same thing can be said relating to the sales presentation. It should be scripted out. A member of the “sales prevention department” might be you! Sales representatives should also role-play (rehearse) their scripts as a performance. After a sales presentation, the sales person should review how it went to determine things that went well, things that could be improved, and suggestions to improve the script. With the customer’s permission, record sales presentations and listen to them to evaluate them.

You have probably heard when making business calls, “This call may be recorded for training purposes.” You might look into doing this for your business. Alternatives are to have someone listen when others answer calls, or to hire “mystery shoppers” to find out what the experience of prospective customers is like.

Relating to the eternally ringing telephone, there should be a performance standard of responding by the third ring. The call could roll to voice mail and the call promptly returned. Alternatively, a receptionist could ask for the customer’s name and ask when would be the best time to return the call. No call should be put on hold for more than a minute. Then, thank the customer for waiting before moving to the next step.

Take these steps to eliminate your “sales prevention department”, and you might multiply your sales without spending any additional marketing dollars!

Would you like help developing scripts for your business and training your team to better serve your customers? To schedule an initial consultation, write Michael Gray at mgray@profitadvisors.com.

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(c) 2019 by Michael Gray