Post by Marc Seery, Product Marketing Manager for Sage One. Marc loves speaking to small businesses about how they manage their finances so that we can understand what should be included in Sage One. In his spare time he acts as bookkeeper for a solar energy business he runs with his brother in law and he also enjoys the theatre; watching, not acting and certainly not singing!
It’s a tough business finding new customers
So what I can’t understand is why it’s often so difficult to get to speak to a business. I ring the number and I get voicemail. I’m not overly keen on voicemail; who is? However, I do understand that sometimes it’s a necessity as it’s just not possible to answer a call immediately.
The problem is that when I hear the “click” of voicemail the thoughts that go through my head are “will they ring me back promptly?” or “will they ever call me back?”. So, should I wait or just move on the the next supplier?
Maybe I’m just unlucky with voicemails so I checked with a friend to find out her experience. She’d recently called 12 tradesmen and found that six went direct to voicemail and only of two these were personalised. A further two of the calls were answered by a family member but no details were taken.
I also asked a small business owner for his view. He immediately looked down at his iPhone and saw that he had missed three missed calls over the last hour. Only one had actually left a message and this was a current customer. The two potential prospects had put the phone down. He said he always followed up on missed calls regardless of whether they’d left a message but was this too late? Had the caller already found an alternative supplier?
Minimise the risk
As a business owner you have get on with the day to day work management of your business so voicemail is essential at times, but if you want to maximise the chances of getting a new customer here are a few suggestions:
- Don’t just leave your voicemail on as a default – make sure it’s really necessary.
- If it has to be voicemail, ensure your voicemail message is personalised and to the point. No one wants to listen to a rambling message.
- Always make sure your message is up to date (there’s nothing worse than it says your still on holiday but that was a week ago).
- Give an indication in your voicemail message when your prospect will be called back (never say “try” to call back).
- Always call back as soon as possible – you want the prospect to feel important (they are!)
- Is there a better way of taking calls? Can you enlist the help of a virtual PA? These services can be very cost effective, can screen out unsolicited sales calls and other non-important calls and ensure you are alerted to business opportunities immediately. Often you can even try out their services for a month or buy a fixed cost.
- If you use your phone for business and personal use make sure the message is for business. Your friends will understand but a casual message may not impress a prospect.
- Having recorded a message, play it back to check it’s correct and also gives the right impression. If you sound bored then your prospect will be!
Maybe I’m wrong but I can’t help feeling businesses are missing out on prospect opportunities. What do you think? Do you leave a message when you reach voicemail when calling a new supplier? If you do, do those businesses ring you back? What about voicemail for your own business? Are you letting your prospects get away? We’d love you to share your thoughts in the comments section below.