Tips to Increase Your Closing Rate Over the Phone
BY BILL FAETH
If I were to ask you what you want for your business more than anything, what would you say?If you're like many of the operators I talk to on a regular basis, you would probably tell me that you want your phone to ring more often. Because more phone calls lead to more business, right?
Getting the phone to ring is the easy part: The hard part is how you handle the potential customer on the other end of the line to actually make the sale. Being able to confidently close new business deals over the phone can be the key to successfully growing and scaling your business. Think about the percentage of new clients that are acquired over the phone, both as single reservations and the larger accounts whose business you've won.
Do you record your calls? Do you track your closing rates? Do you train your CSRs on how to sell? Do you have a process in place to track the successes and failures?
Most operators do not. And not having these processes in place could be holding you back from booking new business deals from those incoming calls.
One factor impacting your success could be that you are most likely not tracking the closing rates of incoming phone calls. Without a tracking system in place, such as a structured customer relationship management (CRM) platform or a detailed process for logging incoming calls and requests for quotes in your dispatch system, you will not be able to attribute these calls to new business.
Another likely reason that you are not able to see results from incoming calls could be that you have not adequately trained yourself or your staff taking these calls to close effectively. This is a key to your company's success. If you want to increase your sales from inbound calls, your staff must be trained to be more than order- or trip-takers. They must learn to perform like inside sales representatives without being so salesy they turn away business.
Whomever you have answering your phones—your customer service team, dispatch team, or reservation specialists—must be equipped with the knowledge of your business and the skills needed to identify your customers' pain points, identify the decision makers, provide solutions, ask the right questions, close the deal, and be able to activate the new client.
Holding a training session for your team to educate them on the details of your business, as well as to understand customer pain points, will help you ensure that everyone who is answering phones is equipped to provide the right answers and best solutions.
Scheduling monthly or quarterly refresher sessions are a great way to keep your entire staff up to date on details like new vehicle availability and new pricing options, as well as to review customers' most commonly asked questions. These refresher sessions can be a great way to address customer concerns, review close rates, and help each member of your team identify the shortfalls that could be impacting your business.
But what about the deals you try to close on scheduled conference calls with larger prospective accounts?
Closing a new large account over the phone is not just about negotiating price or accommodating trip requests. When you have the opportunity to win new business, whether it's through a presentation, an RFP, or a conference call, you want to build a relationship, provide value, and then close the deal.
When I was an operator, I developed a formula that worked for me every time I was able to get that big, exciting prospect on the phone. By following these same eight steps on each call, I was able to confidently close new business and activate those client relationships.
Each time you have the opportunity to try to win a deal by pitching your proposal over the phone, follow these steps to increase your chances to close the deal and win new business.
STEP 1: Set an Agenda
You have the call scheduled and are ready to pitch your company's services. At least one day prior, set an agenda for the call. Distribute this agenda to your point of contact and any other individuals who will be involved. Establishing expectations ahead of time will set the tone for organization, attention to detail, and promptness—all of which are incredibly valuable when discussing reliable transportation.
STEP 2: Make Introductions
Begin the call by introducing yourself and everyone on your team who has joined the call. Set an example by giving both your name and your title, so that everyone on the phone knows who they are speaking with.
I recommend having LinkedIn pulled up nearby so that you can do a quick search of those on the call, if you haven't had a chance to do so before the meeting. This will help you put a face to the names and voices on the other end of the line.
STEP 3: Establish Rapport
Once you have identified everyone on the call and the introductions are complete, it's important to spend a few minutes building rapport with everyone on the call.
Beforehand, you should spend a few minutes researching each individual on the call using LinkedIn or Facebook. Your goal here should be to find a few commonalities that you can mention to help you establish rapport. Don't be so detailed as to appear creepy, but mention a common sports team or favorite vacation spot. This will help to break the ice and build the relationship.
It is important point to keep this portion of the phone call brief: You have more important objectives to accomplish.
STEP 4: Listen with Empathy
With introductions taken care of, direct the conversation to questions about their business, their current struggles, or their biggest frustrations. Then sit back and really listen.
One of the questions I always found helpful was to ask, “If we are fortunate enough to earn your business, what would a successful relationship look like in 12 months?” That opens the door for you to deliver valuable services that meet the exact needs of your prospects.
STEP 5: Answer Objections
Address any questions or problems your prospect brought up by providing value in all of your answers. Continue to address each by explaining your company's value until all of their questions are answered completely.
Then, ask for their business.
STEP 6: Establish an Onboarding Timeline
Establishing a timeline will make them feel confident and comfortable before bringing up price.
Be detailed in explaining exactly what you will need, when you need it, and when you will be ready to deliver it. This sets expectations for both parties and will help you get them activated faster.
I recommend having LinkedIn pulled up nearby so that you can do a quick search of those on the call... This will help you put a face to the names and voices on the other end of the line."
STEP 7: Negotiate Price
Do not negotiate price until all objections have been answered. Continue to answer objections and reinforce your value. Regardless of what price you settle on, remember to maintain your profit integrity.
STEP 8: Review the Purchasing Process
Every company's purchasing process is different. Ask what your prospect's process is, who signs the contract, and who approves the ride requests. Knowing this information before the call ends will set you up for successful activation—and activation leads to income.
Following these eight steps the next time you are given the opportunity to pitch to a new prospect will help give you the confidence to successfully close the deal while establishing a personal relationship right at the onset of your professional one. [CD1016]
Bill Faeth is Founder of Inbound Marketing Agents in Nashville and Founder of Limo University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.