Who’s Answering Your Phones?
It seems like a silly question to ask, but it matters more than you might realize.
With the way your home performance, HVAC or solar installation company is set up, you rely on having leads constantly coming through phone calls or form submissions on your website. While a hardworking marketing strategy can help you get interested people to fill out those forms or call, it’s then on your team to respond accordingly, and ultimately close the sale.
Establishing a Successful Initial Touchpoint
If your business’ main focus is scheduling service appointments for your HVAC crews, then simply having someone to schedule might be enough. But if you’re offering solutions that might require some discussion upfront like solar, remodeling, or home performance, then whoever’s calling you expects to speak with someone who’s knowledgeable about the subject.
Many solar and home performance businesses have a process in place where someone will answer the phone just to get the caller’s information down and then have a sales representative follow up. While logistically this might make sense, it often actually hinders the sales process. It’s likely that whoever just called might then be calling other businesses like yours in the area. If they can get the answers they need or the appointment they want right away, you’ll have just lost out on a potential customer.
If your sales reps are then following up — how many times do they have to call or email to actually get in touch with the lead? Is the potential customer then actually ready and available to talk? If you’ve noticed that the phone rings pretty frequently, but you’re not closing too many projects, this could be one of the primary culprits and it might be time to reevaluate.
Streamlining the process for your potential customers and your team is essential. While it might be impractical to have your sales team be the ones answering phones all the time, you can consider putting some kind of rotation into place. This way the sales cycle can be shortened from the beginning without that initial required follow-up.
Training Your Team & Using a CRM Tool
Another direction you can choose to take is to train up the staff that’s currently answering your phones. The first essential part is to make sure anyone who’s going to answer the phone is able to answer the most frequently asked questions your company receives. For example, if you’re a solar installer then knowing which brands of panels your company installs might be something people commonly want to know. If you’re a home performance contractor, then maybe questions about the types of insulation you install or how long insulating the average attic might take are the most popular. Answers to these questions may not require the most technical knowledge, but having someone who knows the answers on the line will help the potential customer stay engaged and already value your services more.
A key portion of the training whoever is answering your phone needs to get is how to ask appropriate qualifying questions. For example, if someone calls asking about insulation, it would be worth knowing whether they’ve already had an energy audit completed or if someone is interested in solar then asking the appropriate questions about their roof and discussing financing options might help to speed things along.
It’s then crucial that the caller’s name and phone number doesn’t simply get written down on a post-it somewhere. Anyone who is answering phones for your business should be using your CRM software and adding details about the caller straight into the database. You don’t have to have a complicated (or expensive) CRM, but if you get the person’s name, phone number, details about the call, answers to any qualifying questions that were asked and even an email address, that person can now be more easily marketed to and any details to close the deal will be that much more accessible to your entire team.
Delight Potential Customers & Shorten the Sales Cycle
Just like you wouldn’t want to wait to have a business call you back once you’ve made an effort to call them, you shouldn’t let your customers wait either. Having someone answer the phone who can already help your new leads is the best way to turn them into customers. They’ll already view your business more favorably if their first touchpoint is positive and you might shorten the sales cycle.
Although it would be great to have someone answer the phone around-the-clock, for many smaller companies it might not be feasible. If that’s the case, make sure the recording on your answering machine lets whoever’s calling know exactly what your business hours are and when they should expect a call back from your team.