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The Biggest Mistake Small Business Owners Make

I love helping small business owners get more leads. Social media is a great way to drive more traffic to your business. It takes time and money. But all of the time and money in the world will make no difference is you are doing this one thing wrong.

The Number #1 Mistake That Could Cost Your Business

Driving business to your website and getting your phone to ring is the first step. But when a client calls you how do you answer the phone? And when do you answer the phone?

In this day and age people expect immediate response, especially when they are looking online. If you do not answer and especially if you do not have a professional recording on your voice mail, people will usually not even leave a message. They will move on to the next business they find.

The voice on the other end of the phone call is the first impression may people will have of you and your business. Get this wrong and you will be looking for a job real soon.

I Was Appalled At What I Heard

I own a directory website. Eldercare businesses can list their business on the website to receive leads. The website was getting a lot of traffic but the small business owners kept telling me they were not getting any calls.

How Could This Be True?

So I decided to add tracking numbers to each of the listings to see what was really happening. I just could not believe that nobody who listed on the website was getting any calls.

Sure enough there were a lot of calls coming in. In fact we had 135 to 150 calls per month. So I took it a step further and began to record the calls.

Here Is What I Discovered

A lot of the calls went to a voice mail system. Some of these voice mails were set up with a professional recording but many were not.

I Get It

As a small business you may be using your phone for both personal and business purposes. Maybe you want all sales calls to come to you while other business calls can be received at your office. However, every call should be answered as it it were a potential client.

During normal business hours ( that includes weekends for most service related businesses) you should have someone answering the phone if at all possible. I understand that sometimes this may not be possible. If you cannot answer the phone, a professional voice mail (VM) recording should be used. A short recording stating that you are helping another client right now and promising to get back with the caller in 1 to 2 hours will usually encourage the caller to leave their name and number.

You May Want To Transfer Your Calls To Someone Else

This is a really good option. A live person is always the best. :-) However make sure that the person receiving the calls knows what to say and has good phone manners. Otherwise, they could hurt your business more than they help. I have found very few answering services that are able to do a good job.

Think Outside The Box

You may want to consider hiring a few contract people who can help out. You may find a retiree who wants to earn a few extra dollars. You could have them answer your phone while you attend business meetings. Likewise a college student may be available during certain times of the day to take calls while you attend to other business matters. The key is get that phone answered and stop losing valuable leads.

I Also Discovered

Many of the business owners were not very good on the phone. They stammered and stuttered and did not seem to know what to say to the callers. I know they know their business but it did not come across on the phone.

Sometimes they answered the phone abruptly. I even heard a caller apologize for interrupting them. I caller should never feel bad about calling your business.

Sometimes It Is Better Not To Answer

Business owners are taught that they should always answer their phone when possible. But sometimes you should not answer the phone. Sometimes, it may be better to let that voice mail system pick up the call.

When should you let your voice mail system pick up the call?

  • If you are in a meeting with a potential client or a referral partner. Everyone deserves your undivided attention.

  • If you are having an argument with your spouse, child or anyone else. If you are angry or upset. This will come across in your voice. The caller will not have a good first impression

  • If you are in a loud place. Step away from the noise and return the call as quickly as possible.

  • If you are busy on your computer and cannot turn away from the screen to have a conversation. People can pick up on your distraction. It will send a signal that you do not think their call is important. Is this the message you want to send?

Before answering a call put a smile on your face. Remember you are here to help. Remember why you started the business and the passion you have for helping.

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Kathryn Watson is a Social Media Strategist. Her focus is on Content Creation, Facebook and LinkedIn Strategy.

Schedule a complimentary 30 minute consultation with Kathryn to see how she can help your business.

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