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Tip 1 – Answer the telephone.

This might seem like a pretty basic tip however it is one of the most important things that people get wrong. I recently needed to hire a skip to clear some junk from my garage. No problem, there were a dozen skip suppliers in the Yellow Pages. I rang the first one – number unavailable – OK, they probably went out of business. The next two numbers rang out unanswered – what were these people doing advertising in Yellow Pages then failing to answer their phone – this is just crazy. On my fourth call I got an answer (presumably the owners wife). She answered my call with hello …… (no business name or pleasantries) – these people were supposed to be running a business. She could’nt give me a price or arrange skip hire, but said she would get her husband to ring back when he came in (by the time he rang back I had found someone else).  Out of twelve telephone calls I only got two professional replies – what an easy way to lose business.

Now you might think that the fire trade is much more professional. However in my role of treasurer I often have to chase up members who havent paid their fee’s. Guess which one’s are always hard up – the one’s that don’t answer their phone. It’s not just me that is trying to call them – it’s their prospective customers. 

Rules for winning Telephone business:

  1. Advertise – leaflets, Yellow Pages, Internet etc.
  2. Pick up the phone within three rings – this is vital. If you don’t appear to be switched on and ready your customer will probably ring your competition. Every sale you lose goes to someone else – why make your competition rich?
  3. Use an appropriate and entheusiastic greeting i.e. “Hello XYZ fire protection – how can I help you”.
  4. Don’t just give prices - Ask questions. Your customer will probably start the conversation with something like ‘How much is a fire extinguisher for my shop”. Ask the customer what kind of shop, whether there are other risks involved, would another type of extinguisher be more appropriate – take an interest in their business (people love to talk about themselves). Finally I would always ask whether this was a long term business or would they just be there for a short time. This way I could make them think whether the ‘cheapest’ extinguisher was the right choice or whether a good quality appliance with a long guarantee would be more appropriate. If your competitors only sell ‘cheap’ extinguishers and you can sell both cheap one’s and better quality one’s you are providing more choice. Most people approached in this way buy the more expensive unit as long as you have explained the benefits.