There are a lot of statistics out there that say successful businesses should end up closing about one out of every three calls. But I know from experience that this is often not the case, and I’ll tell you how I learned that.
A few years ago I was driving a plumber phone leads from different ad campaigns like Google Places and Facebook. It was a side project, so I wasn’t spending a lot of time diving into the phone calls. Our initial agreement was that he would pay me $20 per every phone call that turned into a customer. I would send him monthly email updates that included a spreadsheet outlining the number of calls I made and the duration of each call.
I wanted to make sure that he was only getting quality leads and that they were turning into paying customers, so I started to listen to some of the phone calls.
The quality of customers was unbelievably good. They were people looking for a service that he provided (plumbing repairs), in his service area (New York City), and they were asking him to come out to their house for either an estimate or to perform the job. But even with these exceptionally qualified leads that needed his service, he still wasn’t closing the deals. I was handing him potential clients asking for an estimate (hot leads) and he wasn’t able to close them.
Below is a breakdown of a real call I heard:
The call started off with the prospect explaining her plumbing issue. She provided her location and explained that she was located near the plumber. The plumber didn’t empathize with the prospect for having a plumbing issue (something no one WANTS to have) and began talking about price without building any value. The prospect then replied, “Well that’s expensive,” to which the plumber responded with a condescending comment: “It’s because Manhattan is expensive.” Then they got into a debate around whether it’s right or wrong to charge for an estimate. The plumber told the prospect that she doesn’t work for free, which of course results in more awkward arguing. Not the type of conversation you want to have with a brand new lead.
The frustrating part is that this call could have gone in a completely different direction if the plumber took a different approach. This easily could have turned into a paying customer.
Here are five actionable ways to turn your leads into customers:
1. Create empathy with the caller. Right off the bat, our plumber made the mistake of not acknowledging the prospect’s emotions. You should always empathize and show the prospect that you understand what they’re going through and that you’re going to help.
Imagine how differently the conversation would’ve gone if the plumber said this:
“Oh, wow. I totally understand what you’re going through and I can personally relate to the frustration of having plumbing issues. It’s something you never really plan for, and it can be a bit annoying trying to find a reliable plumber in the city that can accommodate your schedule. I get that.”
After hearing this, the prospect would feel comfortable knowing the plumber understands her situation. This shifts the conversation from “selling” to a discussion around how to fix the problem.
2. Establish credibility and trust. After you show empathy with the prospect, the next step is to establish credibility. In this example, the plumber never gave the customer a reason to hire him. He didn’t establish any credibility for his company or the service he provides. Not surprisingly, the customer didn’t feel comfortable paying his rate because he didn’t build any value in his pricing.
Here’s a script the plumber could have used to build value around his company and services:
“That said, we are one of the top rated plumbers in New York City, and we have been servicing Manhattan for more than 12 years. Our customers come back to us time and time again because we offer fast, quality service that they can rely on. We are fully licensed and insured, which allows us to service nearly any building in New York.”
3. Address competitors and their weaknesses. Since our prospect mentions that there are a lot of plumbers who provide free estimates, we need to address this head on:
“There are a lot of uninsured plumbers out there who may give you a low rate, but you building won’t allow them to service you; and, to be honest, I’m not sure you’d want to count on them for your plumbing needs anyway.”
Addressing the downside of going with a cheaper competitor who may not have the proper licenses and insurance further builds value around your credibility and pricing.
4. Provide an estimate your customers can understand. Usually, when someone objects to price, you have failed to create enough value to justify it. In addition to not building enough value to justify the price, our plumber also failed to give the prospect a price quote that is easy to understand. He simply gives a price-per-hour quote, leaving the prospect with uncertainty around total price.
Here’s a script our plumber could have used to solve this problem:
“I’d love to come out and take a look at your issue. I can give you a ballpark price, but it might change a bit based on the actual problem we find. Based on what you told me, it should be about $400 to $800 total, which includes labor, materials and tax.”
5. Build value before giving price. To ensure that the prospect feels comfortable hiring you, build value around your services, your employees and your quality of work:
“Of course! We are going to send out one of our best technicians, who is licensed and insured and will make sure that everything is perfect before he leaves. We also back our work up with a two-year warranty in case anything unexpected happens; we will send someone out to fix it free of charge.”
As you can see, it’s incredibly important to use these tactics when talking to prospects. You will see a huge increase in conversion rate (the number of prospects that turn into paying customers) by spending some time implementing these scripts into every phone call. I also recommend tracking your phone calls to make sure your staff is handling these conversations appropriately.