A colleague and I were talking a couple of weeks ago. He had been doing a Web search for a consultant and was a little annoyed at how hard it was to get people to return his inquiries.
He was also surprised at just how difficult it was to find people’s phone numbers on their websites. He wanted to know when it had become the norm to make people fill out forms versus letting people call or email.
“Can you help me?”
When I’m shopping and in “browse” mode, I’m not quite ready to buy — although I might. Knowing the sales person is nearby is good but for the most part, I don’t need any help and like to be left alone.
But sometimes I do need help, and it’s at this point that I turn to a sales clerk. He or she can help me find what I need and/or answer questions. When I’m in “help, please” mode, I want someone to pay attention to me — like right now, please.
It works the same way for your business.
When people come to your Website, they’re in “browse” mode. “Does this company offer what I need? How can they help me? What other companies have they worked with? Do they have additional information I can read?”
Once these preliminary questions have been answered, the person either shifts into “help, please” mode or leaves your site (for whatever reason).
When someone has shifted into “help, please” mode, he or she wants to talk to you — like now. Not being able to find your phone number or being relegated to filling out form is the ultimate in frustration.
It also says you’re not that interested in doing business.
The Telephone = Business
The late Jim Rohn, in his fabulous book, 7 Strategies for Wealth & Happiness, talks about how to “manage” telephone interruptions. Mr. Rohn has really good advice about how to develop yourself so that you become the success you want to be, but this book was written in 1985 — before email, before the Internet, before texting, heck even before fax machines (I think).
The phone was one of two forms of communication. The letter was another. So yes, you had to manage the telephone because people called you — constantly.
Flash forward to today. Just how many unscheduled calls do you get anyway? If you’re like me, you get maybe one or two a day, three at the max. (Most days I have zero inbound unscheduled calls.)
So, if a prospect is in “help, please” mode, why would you want to make him or her fill out a form and then wait until you’re ready to return the inquiry? Are you that busy that you can’t take a call from someone who may want to use your services? (If you are, please call me. I want your secret!)
Seriously though, the reason I encourage people to call me can be summed up in one word: Conversation.
Once I get someone on the phone, I can ask all kinds of questions in order to understand the person’s challenges. I get to know the person a little bit and am able to answer any questions.
Typically, I’m able to move right to proposal stage after talking to someone for a half hour.
You simply can’t do this through email.
That’s why I’m such a huge fan of the telephone.
What follows are two super easy ways for making it easy to contact you by phone:
1. Make your phone number visible — Rather than make people click over to your “Contact” page, add your phone number at the top of each web page. Make sure it’s text-based (meaning, it’s not embedded in a graphic) so that people using a smartphone can click on the number and call you.
2. Add your phone number to your calls-to-action — You can let people know you’re ready to talk to them by telling them to call you.
Once people do contact you, make sure the experience they have with you is top-notch. To ensure zero dropped calls, invest in a landline and a high-quality telephone and headset.
Be sure, too, to record a professional outgoing message for those times when you can’t answer the phone. Include your full name and business name. (Can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a message like this: “Hi. You’ve reached Joe. Leave a message.” Click)
Also state when you’ll return the call. One of my colleagues states in her outgoing message, “I return calls within 90 minutes during normal business hours.” I love calling her because I know I’ll be hearing her cheery voice within the hour.
What should you do if people contact you through email? You can do one of two things: Call back right away. Or, you can reply via email and ask if now is a good time to talk or you can set up a time to talk. Either works.
What your opinion about the telephone? Love it or hate it? Leave your comments.