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While the plumbing, heating, cooling and piping (PHCP) industry has come a long way in adapting and utilizing new technology, there are still a number of businesses in the industry that continue to believe doing things the “old” way works just fine.
This old way of thinking especially applies to customer service teams within the PHCP industry. In the old way, your sales team would do most of the selling, where you employed dozens or more sales experts, many of whom were “old school” salesmen with decades of experience, working with your customers and vendors. They knew who to talk to, how to turn a cold call into a new customer and how to talk shop with anyone about the products or services you were selling. They spent a majority of their time on the road, visiting your most important clients in person to keep that one-on-one relationship top of mind.
But today, there is a shift in how PHCP businesses are getting services sold. While you may still depend on a few key sales professionals, technology is changing the selling process and many PHCP businesses are struggling with how to adapt to the new climate. Virtual selling is becoming a bigger slice of your income — and if it isn’t, it should be.
You may receive calls or emails from people who found you through a Google search, who never heard of you before they searched online. Or, your company may have hired an agency or a staffer to run your advertising programs. People call or email as a result of an advertisement they saw.
But, is your business ready to handle this wave of savvy searchers?
This influx of inbound calls and emails needs to be handled very carefully in order to capture and convert these callers and emailers into customers. You need trained and super capable call handlers to fill in the gap. This creates a new job category — a combination of sales and phone specialist.
For many PHCP businesses, call handlers are replacing or enhancing existing sales teams. It is more important than ever to ensure that these first responders are educated, trained and well-versed in everything your business does and sells. It’s a tall order. But, these staffers are essential employees, responsible for turning inquiries into sales. You will benefit by properly equipping them to be superstars.
Hiring an experienced coaching and training company can make a huge difference in your phone call and website inquiry conversion rate, and in the way your employees view themselves. Outside specialists can sometimes see problems before management can, and sometimes it is better to let the experts do what they do best. If you have a PHCP business with just a few key call handlers, we are proud to offer some tips to help you help them become even greater at their jobs.
Knowledge is power
Business call handlers are not only note takers; these staffers are key to your business staying at the top of its game. If they do not know your products inside and out, you need to train them to have the highest level of knowledge and expertise. Hold classes for them on a regular, weekly basis. Senior staff in various departments should be taught how to not only explain what they do and how the products work, but most importantly, why your customers need your products.
The world is a stage
The most successful businesses often tell their employees to imagine that they are entering a stage each time they sit at their desk to answer phone calls. I know of a business that places mirrors next to the phones, so that employees can look at themselves smiling while they are talking. If a frown creeps onto their face, they can see it. It’s been said that when you smile while talking, the person on the other end can almost feel the smile. This can generate a connection, leading to more effective communication and higher sales.
Concentration is key
If your phone-answering department is in a noisy, busy area, consider moving the phones to a quiet, out-of-the-way area. Selling is an art, not a science, and your call handlers need to be able to give their full attention to the person on the other end of the line. Have you ever been talking to someone who is distracted? Not only does it not make you feel valued, it can create a negative impression of the person or business that you are talking with at the time.
Give staff the power to make the sale
If your CSRs feels they are being micromanaged and cannot make decisions on their own, you are undermining your sales without realizing what you are doing. Staff who feel empowered make better decisions, and if they feel that you trust them and are invested in their success, they may surprise you. Taking that leap of faith in the ability of your call handlers can be frightening. But, more often than not, the results that you will see will prove what your team is capable of doing.
Using these tactics can offer your team the push that they made need to be completely confident in their abilities. If undertaken with confidence by you and your management team, your business should be able to see a significant reward with a very small effort.
Brigham Dickinson is president and founder of Power Selling Pros, a leading coaching and training firm dedicated to teaching businesses to wow more customers. He started Power Selling Pros when he saw that call handlers needed assistance consistently converting calls to bookings. As a result, Dickinson answered the need by creating the Pattern for Excellence, a sequence of principles that guides call handlers through all stages of a call, from greeting to closure. In 2009, Power Selling Pros trained six call handlers – now they’re up to 450, from more than 130 companies around the globe. Power Selling Pros’ growth comes through referrals alone, thanks to this proven call-handling process and their high level of customer satisfaction.