As a small business owner, you can’t possibly answer the phone every time it rings, especially if you’re on a much-deserved vacation from work. But that’s no excuse for missing all of those incoming leads. The number of sales you close is directly proportional to the number of calls you answer, but for those times when you just can’t get to your phone, you must at least have a working backup plan. Otherwise, you’ll never even have a chance to get those leads back.
Here are some things you can do to make sure missed leads don’t tank your business.
Have a Professional Voice Mail System
When answering your phone isn’t in the cards, having a proper voice mail system will allow prospects to leave a detailed message and enable you to follow up with those leads as soon as you can.
Set up a professional greeting: The first step is to set up a professional voice mail greeting. Whether you’re frequently out on the job and can’t pick up your phone or you’re going on an extended vacation, you must record a detailed greeting so prospective customers know that they’re calling a legitimate business. Include your company name, an explanation and/or apology for not answering the phone, and assurance that you’ll return their call ASAP.
Keep your inbox empty: If your inbox is full of old voice mail messages, new callers won’t be able to leave a message. If they can’t leave a message, they’ll immediately find another local business to call. To avoid this problem, delete new messages as soon as you’ve returned the call or logged the contact info. If you’re consistent with this, you won’t have to worry about your inbox filling up ever again.
Note: A few business owners who use pay-per-call services might strategically keep their inboxes full as a way to avoid getting charged when they don’t answer the phone. However, doing this prevents all incoming leads from leaving voice mails. The amount of business you lose by doing this outweighs any pay-per-call charges you’re saving. (If you’re dead-set on avoiding pay-per-call charges, you may want to consider adding another phone line dedicated exclusively to this purpose. Ask Prospect Genius about how to do this.)
Leverage the Convenience of Technology
Because it’s 2015, you can always count on technology to pull through. There are several different ways you can use technology to keep track of missed calls without much effort. The most popular options involve receiving text and e-mail notifications on your mobile phone whenever your business misses a call or receives a voice mail. This way, when you’re out on the job and miss a call, you’ll be able to follow up right away instead of waiting until you’re back at the office. Your chances of closing a sale are much greater if you can catch that prospect before they find another business to hire.
While we do not endorse any particular company, we know that RingCentral offers great message alert and notification services tailored to small businesses. You can also ask Prospect Genius to set this up for you.
Use a Professional Answering Service
While falling back on voice mail or text alerts is cheap, it also incurs a significant risk that those prospects will find another business or service provider before you get the chance to call them back. That’s why many business owners hire professional answering services.
- Answering services are much less expensive than in-house receptionists.
- Operating from a remote office, they can answer the phone and deliver messages to you 24/7.
- They’re professionally trained for customer service and interacting on the phone, making them especially useful if that’s not your strong suit.
- To make sure they get all the relevant information from your leads, you can even give them a script of which questions to ask.
- An answering service is also a useful way to screen out marketing calls so you never even have to deal with them.
Again, we do not endorse any particular company, but we know that some of our clients successfully use AnswerConnect as their answering service, so that might be a good place to start.
But Really: Pick Up Your Phone
One of the things that all successful businesses do is answer their phones when prospects call. As we’ve covered before, missed calls mean missed customers, even if you do have a backup voice mail or answering service. Signing up for a missed call notification service shouldn’t be Plan A. Forward calls to your mobile phone, set up an advanced package with multiple lines, reroute calls to ring multiple phones… Do whatever it takes to connect with a lead. That’s the only truly effective way to create new business.