How many sales are you losing from non-response; or significantly poor response from your staff? I have an exact blueprint for you on how to stem it.
But first, let's set the scene quickly. Last week I wrote about superstar salesman Marshall Rugg. An online comment it generated should be an eye opener for every single business.
I'll paraphrase it - because this is 99 per cent absolutely happening to you. While this is about insurance - this is happening with every type of business.
"We started the Month of May by saying "this week we'll get insurance for the business.
• Emailed and phoned; kept a diary page of contact.
• Of 9 places I contacted, I got 1 quote. 2 more places did call asking for more info, which was given instantly, but didn't get back to me.
• I called back all the places. Some said it was with underwriters 2 weeks later....yeah right.
• One place called me twice, were extremely helpful, patiently went through all the jargon with me, and was pleasant.
Of course they got my business. But I am very disappointed with the whole industry. I don't understand why they don't want my money?
Even if one of the others did get back to me with a cheaper quote I still wouldn't have gone with it, if that is how they treat me when getting money from me - then how will they treat me when I need money from them?!?!"
With all the time, effort and money your business puts into generating that knock on the door (which comes in 2014 via email, website inquires, SMS messages as well as phone and on foot) this is the procedure I would put in place in every single business. It is in mine.
1. All staff, managers must understand the value of incoming inquires. They're gold and have a cost associated in generating them.
2. A procedure and standard responses (in general) should be established to follow - including a time frame.
a. How quickly incoming emails /requests/phone calls should be answered
b. What the response is - who handles what.
c. Time - if there is a hold up in getting the information - reporting back to the person inquiring.
d. After info is sent and you haven't heard from the enquirer - standard procedure for following up.
e. Ensuring (if appropriate) the right prospects are added to your database for future contact and communications.
So how do you simplify this for staff and ensure your procedures are being followed?
Here are several computer ideas
1. Have standard responses / answers set up as a 'template on email'. In Outlook 2003 - use signatures. In Outlook 2007-13 use something called Quick Parts. Gmail, it is Canned Responses and Lotus use Stationery.
Then the effort of responding is simply a click to insert the signature/quick part and the blanks filled in.
2. For phone calls, have staff create a Task or To Do item.
3. Have an email rule that all inquiries (you can go by address or certain words) that come in are cc'd to a manager as well as going to the appropriate person to answer. The manager then has a rule that those cc's go in a folder. This means that the manager will have an exact knowledge of the details if necessary or can simply look at the number of emails in that folder to see how many have come in that week.
4. Take this one step further to have meetings with staff asking them about the inquires of the week. When they know they're being monitored, they might make more effort. If someone says only 7 came in - yet the manager has 12 - then you know there can be a problem.
5. With phone calls that are tasked, these can be assigned to others, yet monitored by the owner of the task. Another way of keeping a feel over what is happening.
If your business is like mine - where you sell your services, make sure inquiries are your priority and you respond ASAP. Using this system above with staff or yourself - works wonders. For example you can put multiple quick parts in an email - thus creating at great speed customised proposals. Then you task your response for a weeks time or so to follow up.
We are all interested. Please comment on what your system is of not letting your incoming inquires slip through your businesses fingers.