You answer the phone one day only to learn that the caller dialed the wrong number. How do you respond?
Like most people, you probably say, “Oh, I’m sorry, you have the wrong number,” and then hang up. Next time, consider taking advantage of the opportunity to make a quick pitch for your business. No “hard sell”; just enough to plant a seed in the caller’s mind.
One morning a woman called to place an order on behalf of her firm. I quickly realized that she had the wrong number, but instead of merely hanging up, I used the time to promote my services and those of my clients. The conversation went something like this:
TF: I believe you have the wrong number, but if you can use some writing services, I probably can help you. What kind of marketing do you do?
Caller: We place advertising in the magazines and have a Web site. But we do that in house.
I promote my clients and partners whenever possible, so I inquired further.
TF: Do you need office furniture?
Caller (chuckling): They don’t allow me to purchase that.
TF: What about web services, e-commerce sites, and such?
Caller: We do that in-house, but we’re always looking for new sources.
So I mentioned a firm I work with, and provided their Web address. I then discussed my business, and provided my name and number. The entire conversation took only a couple moments.
The point is that a call that otherwise would’ve gone nowhere can be turned into gentle sales pitch.
Some points to keep in mind:
1. Be brief. The caller is involved in some project, and can’t spend much time on the phone. Keep the conversation under two minutes. You can cover a lot of ground in that time.
2. Ask an open-ended question that spur discussion. It is tailored to your business, of course, but can be something like this:
Which banking services do you use now?
What are some of your concerns regarding your health insurance program?
Why did you choose your present courier service?
What kind of shape is your parking lot in?
3. Try to refer clients or partner firms. Perhaps you can’t fulfill the caller’s needs, but one of your clients can. Ask a couple questions that will determine whether you are able to refer the business. View yourself as a solutions provider, regardless of whether you receive a direct benefit.
4. Provide a quick review of your services, and be sure to give your name and contact information. Remember, the caller stumbled upon you by accident, and does not have your name and number.
5. Thank the caller for his or her time, and move on.
Whether you will hear from that firm again is impossible to say. Even so, the conversation took perhaps two minutes of your time. What do you have to lose? Normally you would simply hang up the phone. Instead, you took advantage of the opening to promote your business and in the process potentially help another business solve a problem. It can be a win-win situation for both. All it takes is the foresight to realize the opportunity when it calls.
Train your people–in particular, reception and administrative staff–to respond to these calls in a new way. (You can use this tactic when you mis-dial, as well.) Who knows where such a call may lead one day?