Companies spend thousands and thousands of dollars in marketing and advertising with one primary objective: to have prospective customers contact them to purchase their products and services. One of the primary ways many consumers do their initial shopping is still by picking up the phone and calling.
Is It Working?
With all of this money being spent, it’s shocking to hear how few branches really have a concrete strategy in place for dealing with the incoming rate inquiry. Most will tell you that they routinely get these calls and despite a lack of tracking, most will tell you that very few of the callers book appointments. With so many financial institutions vying for the same investment dollars, why wouldn't a manager make a more concerted effort to ensure his team knew what to do/say to maximize the number of callers that turn into appointments?
What to Do
Here are six easy ways to make sure you are capitalizing on the incoming rate / product inquiry phone call:
- Have a Clear Objective: What does a successful call look like? Is it a sale, to give information, make an appointment? Unclear expectations or objectives mean that whatever you do is perfect. Here’s a hint:
- Order-takers answer the customer’s questions, give lots of information and hope they come in one day.
- Proactive Service People realize the best thing for the customer is for them to come in to the branch so they can do a more comprehensive interview and make certain they can recommend the best product at the best rate.
- Understand the Motivations of the Caller:
- When we understand why a customer focuses on rate then we are in a better position to respond differently to increase our odds of getting an appointment.
- Order-takers think that the person calling for a rate is only interested in the rate and that is how they will make their decision whether or not to buy.
- Proactive Service Providers realize that the customer is starting with the rate for good reason:
- Rate is important – everyone wants a good deal.
- Fear. Consumers are worried about paying too much, getting the wrong product and, worst of all, running into a pushy sales person. When faced with these fears/concerns the logical place for them to start is with price all while pretending they are not that interested.
- Proactive Service Providers also realize that, although the customer has these concerns, they also have a few decisions they have made to get them to the point where they decided to pick up the phone:
- They have a need or want
- Your company is acceptable to them (they haven’t heard anything bad about it or they wouldn’t be calling)
- You have the products they are looking for
- You are competitively priced (if they thought you were uncompetitive would they call?)
- They may not be happy with their current financial institution (if they were, why are they calling?)
- They are looking for a professional – someone to justify their decision to call.
Answer a Question with a Question: I used to always think that when someone asked me a question I had to answer. When I started to answer with questions that got the customer to focus on the product they were considering, not price, an amazing thing happened – they answered!
- Order-takers think they have to respond to the “What’s your rate on …?” question with a rate.
- Proactive Service Providers know that they can respond to the “What’s your rate on …?” question with another question that gets the customer to focus on product. “Our rates are very competitive right now; I’m sorry, my name is Bob, and you are? Tell me a little about your investment?”
Create Some Excitement: Too often these phone inquiries are treated as interruptions to the busy day. What would you rather do: make cold calls or get really good at handling the incoming inquiry? Get excited!! The marketing is working! They are calling you which means one less opportunity we have to go and dredge up on our own! Let them know you are glad they called; let them know you have very competitive rates right now; let them know you’ll be able to help them.
- Order-takers respond to the “What’s your rate on …?” question by answering the question.
- Proactive Service Providers respond to the same question with enthusiasm, “Thank you for calling, this is a great time to inquire about our investment rates - we are very competitive right now!”
Ask for the Appointment with Confidence:
There are a few “nevers” in selling. Asking if a prospective customer wants to make an appointment is one of them. Never, ever ask a customer the closed ended “Would you like to make an appointment?” It can only be answered yes or no and most of the time it will be no.
Ask a better question, get a better answer. Always ask “when they would like to come in and meet with someone that can make sure they get the product that is best suited for them at the best rate you can give.” If you have created some excitement and asked some product focused questions to pull the conversation off of price then you have, in most cases, answered a couple of the more critical questions the customer had that is causing them to focus on price:
- Are you competitive?
- Do you sound like someone they can trust – a professional that will help me make the right decision?
- Do they want my business?
If these primary concerns are addressed immediately in the call many people will set up a time to come in – you just have to ask when they would like to.
Keep Score: Know how many calls you get, and how many appointments you get from those calls. You can’t coach or improve the way you respond to these inquiries if you don’t know what constitutes good performance.
- Order-takers don’t think they have any control over the sales process so why keep track?
- Proactive Service People know the only way to improve is to know how they are doing now, try new ideas, and monitor success.
The product/rate inquiry is a huge opportunity that can turn that ringing phone into new customers and sales. What would it mean to your branch if 50% of the phone calls asking a simple question on product or rate were turned into appointments? Start keeping score, practice the ideas suggested here, and find out!