Do you Answer the Phone? Opportunity Calling
Dec 3, 2018
Do you Answer the Phone?
11/20/2018 | Danette Gossett, From Good to Great
Have you ever made a call to a supplier and felt like they didn’t care about your order? I know I have over the years. And it really does tell me that I should just hang up the phone and move on.
Of course, it’s the same if a client or prospect calls your office and they don’t feel as if you are really interested in their business. They may do the same and hang up the phone and move on.
Our office received a call recently and the first thing the person said was, “wow a real person answered the phone”!
Qualifying a Call is Crucial
My assistant asked the right questions to qualify them and then passed them on to me (the account manager she would have normally transferred this to was out on a call). I answered and immediately realized he was desperate for some immediate attention.
Someone in his office had dropped the ball (maybe it was him, I’ll never know) on a project and he needed to get some nice utility kits right away. Could he come by our office in the morning to see some samples, he asked.
Of course, I do have samples in the office, but I wasn’t sure it was what he wanted. But he drove 2 hours the next morning and was in my office at 9:30am. That’s how desperate he was.
Ask Probing Questions
Before we got started I asked him how he heard of us. My thought was someone had recommended us or he had read about us somewhere. But no, he found us through the internet and had been calling everyone on the first page under promotional products. We were the first one to answer the phone.
He then went on to tell me he had left a number of urgent messages for others, but no one had returned his call.
We went through the samples we had, learned more about his upcoming event and explained to him that we could help in other ways.
We got the business for several items for a $10,000 order (and they paid upfront) all because we answered the phone.
Timely Responses Matter
It’s not the first time this has happened to us. However, more often than not now it’s the urgent email that we respond quickly to. I admit I check my phone very regularly when I am out of the office. Now, I don’t check it when I’m in a meeting but as soon as I get to my car I’m scrolling through the emails to make sure there is nothing that needs immediate attention.
I can’t begin to tell you how many times a client has expressed how much they appreciate my quick response (even if it’s been an hour or two). They tell me that many times they have to hound other vendors to respond. I’ve even had a client ask how quickly I could stop by and I was reading their email in their parking garage! Yes, I had been meeting with someone else in their building. They were thrilled!
If you think it doesn’t matter and can wait a day or two, you are wrong.
Maybe it Really is Urgent
The gentlemen that found us on the internet later told me that he had been calling their “regular” vendor for a couple days to no avail. They didn’t respect the urgency he was feeling. So, now of course, we are his “regular” vendor.
We have also received emails from clients on a weekend. Granted I do like to draw the line and have some time off, but at the same time, seeing an email from the CEO’s Executive Assistant on a Saturday afternoon may really mean something important. In some instances she actually says, just wanted to get this request off my desk so don’t feel you have to respond today.
Other times she basically begs – if you read this can you call me? And I do. Of course, it’s nothing I can do for them at that moment (it is Saturday afternoon – what supplier could I get?). However, what I can do is assure her that I am I have a solution and can confirm it first thing Monday morning.
They are thrilled to know we will be right on it and that maybe, just maybe a miracle can happen for them.
Managing Expectations and Communications
It’s all about expectations and communication. We strive to be clear on every call with every client.
We also work with our key suppliers the same way. That’s why most will bend over backwards to help us make those miracles happen. We don’t cry wolf. They know we don’t ask for special treatment unless we really need it.
They also know we are fair and appreciate all they do for us. How do I know? Because we have heard the stories about the absurd requests and abusive behavior some other distributors subject their employees to. And they thank us for always being nice.
So, I believe what my parents told me growing up (they also were entrepreneur’s), treat people as you want to be treated and you will go far.
I want a phone answered when I call. I want a nice, knowledgeable person to answer that call. And I want people to want to do whatever they can to help me.
And I want to do the same in return.