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2 Ways To Transform Phone Inquiries Into Clients

Mar 12, 2008
Have you ever answered your office phone to be pleasantly surprised by someone who is looking for more information about your products and services? You have a hot prospect on the line and can smell a new sale.

You have an extensive conversation. You tell your prospect all about the bells and whistles of your products and services, how long you've been in business and who your biggest clients are. You get great feedback. Everything seems to be going great, but when you ask for the business, the answer is "no."

Why would someone who has made the effort to call and is seemingly very interested in your products and services, decide not to buy? What's going on here?

Having prospects pick up the phone and call is a critical goal for many small business marketing strategies. Use these two steps to convert more of this valuable interest into cold hard cash.

Assess Urgency
In general, there are two types of prospects who will call for more information - prospects with urgent needs and prospects with latent (non-urgent) needs. Maximizing sales to each group requires a different approach.

The key to either approach, though, is to quickly assess urgency. You want to offer something valuable to prospects with urgent needs who are ready to buy but, at the same time, you don't want to seem pushy and end up alienating prospects who are just doing some research and would have bought from you in the future.

If you've ever been told "no" after a seemingly encouraging conversation with a prospect who called you, it is likely you didn't properly assess urgency and wound up trying to sell to someone who wasn't ready to buy. His or her real answer was probably, "No, not now."

How can you quickly and properly assess urgency and close sales?

The answer is, use questions.

Make sure your strategy for handling phone inquiries uses questions to carefully identify the underlying urgency for your prospect's call. When you know how urgent a prospect's needs are you can close more sales by providing what they want - the right solutions today or ideas for possible solutions for when they're ready act.

Another way to close more sales is to demonstrate value with your response. This tactic will help increase sales to prospects with either latent or urgent needs.

Demonstrating Value
Prospects don't buy products and services. They buy the benefits and results - what they value.

It follows then, that a prospect won't buy if he or she doesn't understand the value of what's being paid for.

For example if you're in the plumbing business, don't simply tell your prospects with leaky pipes (urgent needs) that you'll fix their pipes. Tell them you'll have them fixed within the hour and that any costly water damage will be avoided.

If you're a personal trainer speaking with someone researching possible training gurus (latent need), use questions to uncover your prospect's weight and fitness goals, how often she wants to work out and what time of day is best. Then tell your prospect that when she's ready, you'll have her whipped into shape ahead of her expectations with a custom, schedule-fitting workout.

During a conversation with latent needs prospect, make sure you gather contact information so you can regularly stay in touch with useful information about anything that demonstrates your expertise and your value.

When you assess urgency properly and demonstrate the value of the results you provide, as opposed to the details of your products and services, you'll watch sales soar.
About the Author
The author, Jeremy Cohen, will help you boost response to your online and print marketing so you can close more sales. Start marketing smarter with the ideas in his free marketing guide, Jumpstart Marketing.
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