There are 2 first opportunities that are key in attracting and securing good customers in business: advertising, formally or by referral, and phone inquiry (''I passed by your shop today and have been looking for a good repair shop'', ''I spotted your ad in the paper and need some work done'', ''My friend told me about you….'', and on and on). Regardless of how prospects find you, most often, your first personal contact with them will be by phone.
The phone is our connection to what makes business work everyday, all day long. Just consider the days when the phone doesn’t ring. On occasion, it can be a good thing for catching up but can never happen for very long. Our phone must ring; we must talk to customers, old and new; we must communicate with the outside world; we must consider it key to a certain degree of our success or fail!
With business today so overwhelmed and high-paced, it’s not uncommon to spend untold dollars on advertising to make the phone ring yet, when it does, be too busy to make it work to a great advantage. Too frequently, we’re too busy to give the enthusiasm and professionalism the phone encounter deserves, something we’ve paid so dearly for. That first conversation with our prospect will be our best chance to bring him or her in and give us opportunity to secure the next good customer.
Everyday is all about business and the phone has too great an influence on its failure or success to disregard its importance. It influences having too little work just as strongly as it does on having too much, and both circumstances are stressful - too few customers for too long makes everyone nervous while too many can equal a decrease in the quality we provide. Because each call is unpredictable and each caller, unique, our first exchange with him or her must be marked with our genuine intentions to meet business goals. Even our seasoned customers expect a good phone experience with us and it all begins with believing in the full opportunity the phone, itself, provides and our responsibility to that opportunity.
Phone skills and you … Rate yourself in the following phone skills assessment: '1 to 10' (worst to best):
__I already know how to use the phone and don’t need training
__I always answer the phone in a professional manner
__Even having a bad day doesn’t affect my phone skills
__When I greet someone on the phone, I’m always smiling
__My customers always recognize my voice because I answer it the same way each time
__I could live without the phone in my life
__Callers have commented on the good mood I’m in that day
__When I have a bad day, everyone has a bad day
__I convert most of the calls I receive
__When my caller is not responding to me the way I’d like, I offer a better deal
__I identify my business name every time I answer the phone
__I’m not sure of the best way to answer the phone
__I know the rules for answering my phone and follow them
__I don't do well on the phone so I don't answer unless it’s necessary
If your position requires phone skills, then having good ones will be measured by both, your knowledge and performance, on the phone. For us, business maintenance and growth start with the ability to convert prospects from phone to shop. Following some basic rules will help make conquering the challenge easier and more profitable:
#1 Qualify The Prospect : determine if they’re your kind of customer. This takes patience as you listen. Most Service Writers don't take the time to ask the appropriate questions to make a decision about the prospect. Listening carefully to your caller will answer most of your questions about them and their situation.
# 2) Ask Questions That Convert. Almost all customers are uneducated about their car and technical repairs. Service Writers who know answers to questions that customers can't answer will always convert calls easier.
# 3) Don't Quote Prices Over The Phone. People who insist on knowing the price before they bring the car in are probably not willing to pay for what they get. Quote black and white prices only.
#4 Lead the caller in the direction YOU want to go; know the ‘Time Vs Money’ rules. Some callers will waste more of your time and money than if you were to just give them the lowest price and make the repair. Remember, every 5 minutes of your phone time spent with an unqualified customer can cost you as much as $500.
#5 It’s common for customers to choose a shop where their first contact was a friendly, helpful, knowledgeable voice - that should be you! The best leading statement you can use with a caller is:
“Would you like to make an appointment? I’d be happy to take a look”
Asking your prospects to make an appointment with you is key to qualifying true potential customers
Converting phone calls will always be a job but doesn’t have to be a chore. If you have proper training in professional sales, then use it well every time the phone rings. If you’d like to further your skills, there is training available to provide that.