Increase Online Sales by using the Phone

Posted by
Mike Lyon
Date
 June 7, 2007
Comments
4 comments

With an effective Online Sales Program in place – you will see a good amount of phone-in leads from your exposure on the web. Just because they found you online doesn’t mean they will always communicate via email. There will be an occasion when you exchange a few emails back and forth and they set an appointment, but keep in mind that you are trying to invoke a response from those internet leads. Almost all online sales begin online, develop over the phone, and are finalized at the model home.

Do not underestimate the power and value of a personal conversation on the phone. It takes a little more gusto to get on the phone with customers. You can’t hide behind email all of the time. You can accelerate the process much faster on the phone as compared to email, so take advantage of these opportunities.

With that in mind – here are some key fundamentals for working with a lead once they decide to call.

Answer the phone.
Elementary – but it is absolutely necessary to answer the phone as quickly and frequently as possible. No matter how interested a lead is, they are not likely to leave a message. They want immediate answers and connection with a knowledgeable individual on the other line.

Get those calls to the right person.
All of the numbers you list for your internet sales line should go directly to your Online Sales Counselor. Even if you have to forward the number to a mobile phone, it is much better than directing them to the receptionist or a voice mail. You want an immediate, live response from a qualified sales person when a prospect is calling about a new home.

Make sure your voicemail system is set up properly.

There will be times when a prospect calls and no one is available. In this case, make sure you have a voicemail set up with the right message. In your voicemail, thank them for the call, recognize their interest in a new home, provide your name and give them an estimated time for a return call. You can also leave the business hours in which they could expect to get a live person should they decide to call back later.

When you get the customer on the phone, don’t hang up without their contact information.
No matter how positive (or negative) the prospect may sound on the phone, always get their basic contact info such as name, phone number and email. Offer them a reason to give you their email address – like sending out a plat map, floorplan or information on the homes you have been discussing. Too often the phone call ends with nothing to show for it because the OSC forgot to get the info.

Answer their questions – then ask more.
As interested as they sound in a specific community or floorplan, they may not have all of the facts. After you answer their initial questions, start asking other qualifying questions such as area, price, timeframe etc. Many times, a prospect thinks they know what they want but end up with something completely different. Take advantage of the opportunity to pre-qualify your prospects when you have them on the phone. This will enable you to find the best fit to meet their needs.

Ask for the appointment every time.
Don’t be pushy. If you have been informative and answered their questions, there should be no hesitation asking them something like “Have you had the chance to visit our model home?” When they say no, you simply ask “I would love to set a time for you to view this floorplan we have been talking about, would you prefer stopping by during the week or would the weekend be more convenient?” You will be surprised at how many people will set the appointment right then. If they give you an objection, respond and ask again. (I have some great scripts for answering appointment objections in my manual – Browsers to Buyers)

Establish yourself as the expert to work with.
Make sure they know you can help them with every community. When they realize that you are not biased to one location or community, it will build trust knowing that you will help them find the perfect home no matter where it is. In addition, it’s a good idea to give them an added incentive as an online customer. It could be a small incentive for setting the appointment online but this will go a long way to insure they work with you first and not drive directly out to the model. Ultimately, qualified leads have a higher conversion rate on site.

If you have to leave a voicemail
Don’t blow it. When you leave a voicemail, follow these simple rules: speak clearly, keep it short and get to the point. Don’t ramble on a voicemail – nobody likes that guy. State the reason for calling “Hi, this is Mike Lyon from Simmons Homes and I’m calling in response to your request from Homes.com” Also, give them the next step “I have some great information for you that I will be sending via email” and give them your return number twice and say it slowly “but you can also give me a call at…” I repeat, say your number S-L-O-W-L-Y. Allow enough time to grab a pen and paper the first time and write it down the second time. Don’t make them listen to the voicemail twice.

Call to confirm the appointment
Once you set an appointment, let the prospect know you will call to confirm the appointment. Establishing this up front shows the professionalism of the company and following through gives you the chance to make sure they are coming out.

Record your phone calls.

It is amazing what happens when you record and listen to your phone calls. Once you get over the initial shock of how weird your own voice sounds, you can start to dissect the conversation and pinpoint ways to improve your delivery. Take the time to record yourself talking with a customer. Ask others whom you trust to analyze it with you. Then, constantly improve your methods. Record every message you leave. You will hone your phone skills as you do this.

  • Mike,

    Excellent post. Packed with common insights that are very valuable. Our company recently had some divisions start using a service called Who’s Calling to track phone leads. Are you familiar with this service? If not, can you recommend a service that will help a builder to track, record, and improve their phone sales skills?

    Thanks.

  • Mike,

    Excellent post. Packed with common insights that are very valuable. Our company recently had some divisions start using a service called Who’s Calling to track phone leads. Are you familiar with this service? If not, can you recommend a service that will help a builder to track, record, and improve their phone sales skills?

    Thanks.

  • I am familiar with the services you are using. I think that is the best way to truly find out what marketing efforts are successful. By associating a different number for each individual marketing avenue, you are able to gage the return on investment. Keep up the good work.

  • I am familiar with the services you are using. I think that is the best way to truly find out what marketing efforts are successful. By associating a different number for each individual marketing avenue, you are able to gage the return on investment. Keep up the good work.