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Answering the Phones

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How Your Phones Are Answered is Important
How your phones are answered will have a significant effect on your profitability. I’ve seen a number of my clients lose thousands of dollars as a result of poor phone skills.

If you have more than one business, or type of business, operating in your office and only one main incoming phone line, you may need to use a generic phone greeting. This is particularly important if you are dealing with more than one niche market.

My assistant answers the phone, “Good morning/afternoon, Michelle speaking, how can I help you?”

The first thing we want to find out is which seminar they are inquiring about. Asking them directly, however, can have a negative impact on credibility. If they’re calling about my self-storage marketing seminar and I ask them if they are calling about that or my catering business seminar or my seminar for speakers, my perceived expertise in their niche gets diminished.

The best way to do this is to ask them which day and month the seminar they are calling about is being held. About 99% of the time, we only offer one seminar on any one day. On the rare occasion that two events are taking place on the same day, we probably end up having to ask people which event they are planning to attend.

When people inquire about a seminar, never immediately say that a seat is available. We ask them which city they are calling about if we are promoting multiple dates. Then we ask them to hold on while we check to determine whether we still have space available. This creates the feeling that a lot of people have been calling and that there is heavy demand.

This is important to create an image of success. No one wants to go to an event attended by very few people. They fear the event will be cancelled. If you follow my advice, that won’t be a problem.

The key here is to give people the feeling of scarcity. Making something appear to be in heavy demand gets people to make a decision quicker. It also makes them less likely to quibble about price.

You’re also going to want to come up with some sort of an upsell on the phone when they register for the seminar. You might say something like: “Since you’re registering before a certain date, we can offer you a special deal on this other item if you buy them as a package.”

This is also an opportunity for you to remind them that they can bring a guest for only a small additional fee.

Live Operator vs.Voice Mail
It’s always better to have a live person answering your phones. At a minimum, try to have a live operator during business hours.

If you must have an answering machine, make sure that it can handle a large volume of calls. There is nothing more frustrating than calling a business and the machine either doesn’t pick up or can’t take a message.

If you do have the machine or voice mail system on, make sure that your greeting message is clear and easy to understand. 

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