A huge misconception most businesses have is that they simply need more leads. They think that, if they had more leads, they would make more money (more leads = more paying customers). While this is a logical assumption, it’s not necessarily true.
Most businesses I talk to are not aware of the amount of money they are ‘leaving on the table.’ Most of them don’t think they have a problem with not answering the phone, returning missed calls, or following up on voicemails.
As you will see, missing phone calls is actually a huge problem that costs businesses billions of dollars per year, according to this study. If you are spending money to generate leads, I’m confident that you will find value in my discovery.
Let me tell you a quick story.
Almost four years ago, I was doing lead generation for a small appliance repair company. This was a side project that I took on to help out a friend. I also needed some extra cash, so it seemed like a win-win. However, it was during this time that I discovered something that would fundamentally change the way I think about lead generation.
The appliance repair guy and I agreed that he would pay me $25 for each phone call that turned into an appointment. I only wanted to charge him for very high quality leads where an appointment was booked.
Basically, all I was doing was buying Google AdWords and driving customers to a landing page focused on getting them to call the company. I used a tracked phone number so that I could see which calls were generated from my ads. Then, I would listen to every single phone call and see if an appointment was booked. If an appointment was booked, I would charge the $25. At the time, I didn’t realize how much of the risk I was assuming by structuring it this way.
I would actually get really excited when I heard appointments being booked:
I know that listening to every single phone call is not a very ‘scalable’ system; however, it was through this process that I learned something very valuable. I learned that most of the phone calls that were being generated were not getting answered. This was a little shocking, but moreso frustrating because I was spending money on ads to generate the phone calls and then they weren’t being answered. This felt like a waste.
When I noticed this, I sent him this email:
Below is the voicemail that I referenced at the bottom of the email:
I mean how much hotter of a lead can you get?
This lead had everything that you could possibly want:
- Decision maker
- In your service area
- Asking for a service that you provide
- Asking you to call them back
- Giving you their direct cell phone
These are the quality of leads that businesses dream about, yet they were going down the drain simply due to an unanswered phone.
I did some digging and found out that 62% of phone calls to small businesses (SMBs) go unanswered. This is especially ironic because 66% of SMBs consider phone calls the most valuable form of incoming leads, according to BIA/Kelsey.
That’s just crazy to me.
Guess what happens when a business doesn’t answer the phone? Do you think the customer sits idle by the phone waiting for the business to call them back? Not exactly.
Value of Phone Calls
According to this BIA/Kelsey Report, the huge boost in mobile search is driving an increase in call volume to businesses at rate of 42% per year. Mobile searches also have a higher conversion rate (57%) compared to desktop searches (7%).
The data above tells us that there are more mobile users generating more phone calls than ever before. This is because mobile users are more ready-to-buy, in the right location, and holding a device whose core function is to make phone calls.
Not Answering The Phone Is Expensive
Even with the staggering data above, those 62% of phone calls to businesses continue to go unanswered or to voicemail. 85% of people whose calls were not answered will not call back. They will most likely call a competitor.
When a business doesn’t answer the phone, they are throwing marketing dollars down the toilet.
Let’s take a look at the following example.
These are the phone call metrics for the appliance repair company I was working with. Its calls are a mix of leads, customers support calls, telemarketers, employees, etc. As you can see, 40% of calls are from new leads, 40% are customer support calls, and the remaining 20% are all the others.
For new leads, the workflow includes a brief phone call, scheduling an appointment to do an in-person estimate, and then getting approval from the lead for the work to be performed (paid job). In this company, 75% of phone calls from leads will book an estimate. Of those estimates that are performed, 70% will hire the company for the job.
This particular company has the same people answer the phone for leads and customer support. A customer support call will turn into a job about 20% of the time. This is because the issue is usually more complex than the customer is able to fix on their own. In these cases, the customer hires the appliance repair company every time – they aren’t bidding on the job like they do with new leads.
Now let’s take a look at what these percentages translate to if the company generates 1,000 phone calls a month.
This business is closing 80 jobs per month from new leads and 30 jobs per month from customer support calls. This is all from the 1,000 phone calls they generate. Since the average job is $500, they are doing about $55k per month in revenue.
Now, let’s assume they cannot improve any other metric except answering the phone more often.
If they could answer the phone 90% of the time instead of 38%, this is what it would translate to:
Their revenue would jump from $55k per month to $130k per month! That’s an increase in revenue by 136% all without spending any additional money on marketing.
Yep. That’s real.
Now let’s go over a few solutions to ensure that we can answer the phone at least 90% of the time.
Never Miss A Phone Call
It’s difficult to commit to answering every single call. People get busy and things come up that prevent you from answering the phone sometimes. This happens for everyone. The trick is to put systems in place that will prevent you from missing out on potential sales.
Here are four things you can do to make sure you never miss a call again:
1. Hire a virtual assistant
There are a lot of services out there that offer virtual assistants like Zirtual ($400 per month), Fancy Hands ($30 – $200 per month), Upwork ($5 per hour), and more. The key is to find someone that you know is reliable and hold them accountable for answering every single call. Track the calls to make sure nothing is slipping through the cracks.
2. Route your calls to multiple people
By routing all your phone calls to multiple people, the likelihood that someone will answer increases dramatically. I’ve seen calls get routed to as many as 30 people at a time. The person that answers the call first usually gets to work with that customer. It’s a win-win because the phone call gets answered quickly and the person that answers the calls get a hot lead or customer support call they can potentially close.
3. Round robin
Another option is to create a round robin system that will ring on different phone lines if the first person doesn’t answer. This is different than routing them to multiple people at the same time because, with round robin, the calls only go to one person at a time. This is good if you need to prioritize who should receive the phone calls and then use another person as backup in the event that the initial person doesn’t answer.
4. Create an automated workflow
An automated workflow is when certain events trigger an action. In this case, we could use a missed call as the event. If there is a missed call, then the action could be to send a text message to the customer immediately. This takes the event of a missed call and converts it into a text message conversation. There is a very high response rate to an immediate text message that is sent to a customer after a missed call. This prevents them from calling the next business on the list because they’re now engaging with the business they originally called.
As you can see, it’s incredibly important to answer the phone. If you simply improve the percentage of phone calls that you answer, you can increase your revenue by over 130%.
I’m confident that you can turn your missed phone calls into paying customers. The funnel above is a good benchmark to follow. You might have a different flow and different stages of the funnel but track and monitor those religiously. Figure out exactly what your own funnel looks like and then play with the assumptions. Most importantly, put the right systems in place to minimize the number of missed calls and turn those into paying customers.
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