The Secret Marketing Tool Most Small Business Owners Get Wrong

Well, the title may be slightly misleading, because when I tell you the “secret” you’re going to say that’s not a secret at all.

But, in my defense, I see SO MANY small business owners blow this that it almost seems like it must be a secret or why else would it not get more attention?

So what am I talking about? The business phone. Or more specifically, answering your business phone!!

Here’s just one example, of about a million I can bring to mind.

My wife wanted to get some lights added in our living room and she didn’t want floor lamps. We had in the past used a guy who proved to be very good (he never left behind any holes or signs of his work, unlike some others we’d had in the past) and she wanted to use him again.

I happened to be in the room when she called him and I heard her call, wait, then leave a message.

I commented I was surprised no one answered, because it was right at their opening time in the morning and I would have thought they’d be around. But then she told me, no, he never answers the phone, she always has to leave a message and then he calls back. Unless he doesn’t, and then she tries again.

Um, what?

Is he sooo busy that he is trying not to get more work and this is his technique for that?

So when he finally came by the house to do the job, I asked him what was going on with his phone?

And he said no, he’s not that busy and was in fact hoping to grow the business, he just never seems to have time to grab the phone. And he admitted he’s not always good about checking messages.

Um, what, again?

Having a business phone you answer is a simple, easy tool you can use to get more business, provide great service (which leads to referrals which leads to more business), and differentiate yourself from your competition (who don’t answer the phone, which leads to more business for you).

Using Your Business Phone For Good!

You could say it’s just this guy, but it happens ALL. THE. TIME. Small business owners often seem to ignore the fact that a person has taken the time to find their number and call them and likely the only reason they are doing that is they want to do business with the person they are calling!

I see it with ecom sellers all the time, too! Oh, I don’t want to put a number on the website- if we did, someone might call.

Right- having someone call could be bad- they might want to complain or find out how to get a refund. But if you answered the phone, you also might save the sale or at least avoid a bad review.

On the other hand, they may be just calling to get more info before placing an order or calling to see if they can get a discount for placing a huge order! You’ll never know if you can’t be reached.

We always answer the phone here and I can’t tell you how often we hear from people that they tried three or four other firms and we’re the only ones that answered. And of the other ones, where they left messages, only one called back.

It’s crazy to me that you’d not be on top of the chance to speak with a live potential customer! But I see it over and over again. I know it’s pretty common these days not to answer a personal phone, because between spam and robocalls and caller ID and texting it’s rare to talk to anyone you don’t want to anymore. But this is business!

Another thing I see often is for businesses that do answer the phone, they put the newest, greenest, least helpful person on that duty. So when someone does call in, and they get a person on the line, often they still can’t get any useful info or help.

So here are my simple, “secret” tips for any business owner of any kind to immediately increase their sales, stand out from the competition, and make customers love you:

  1. Have a business phone number people can call during business hours (no one expects 24/7 service, but M-F would be nice) and bonus points if you still answer it even if it’s a little after hours or a little before.
  2. Answer it when it rings, within 2-3 rings, every time!
  3. Have the person answering it armed with enough info to be helpful, even if they can’t answer every question, at least leave the caller feeling like it was worth calling and they will get a response that will help. 
  4. if the main person can’t answer, have it roll over to the next person. Voicemail is a last resort! 
  5. have your voicemail suggest that they send you a text and you will respond right away rather than leave a voicemail. 
  6. if they do leave a voicemail anyway, listen to it and then call them back. 

Don’t be the business owner who complains about not being able to grow the business while the phone is ringing in the background! It sounds crazy, but then, I guarantee it happens.

PS- if you don’t believe me, try giving us a call: 858-633-3573. We will answer and if you need help or have questions about getting your bookkeeping done or anything else we can help with, we will answer the question or get you to the person who can.

Unlike many of our competitors, I DO want your business and will work to get it, including answering the phone! 😊

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