The only thing better for your service-based small business than receiving calls from interested prospective customers is selling them your service. How you handle these incoming calls can make or break your business, so it’s very important to make a great first impression.

Answer with a Live Person

Whenever possible, have a live person answer the phone — preferably one who can answer detailed questions or, if not, at least take a message. Not only do customers want to feel that you are available and they can speak with someone if they have a problem, but you also don’t want to risk that prospective customer calling and hiring a competitor while they are waiting for a call back from you.

Kill Them with Kindness

Whoever is answering your business lines should do so in a manner that introduces your business in a friendly and cheerful way. Answering the phone by stating your company name, a brief tagline if you have one, and “how can I help you?” sounds professional and welcoming. Throughout the conversation, be sure to answer the caller’s questions and make them feel comfortable talking to you — if they are comfortable in speaking with your business, they will be much more comfortable in hiring you.

Sell Your Business

When speaking with prospective customers, be sure to convey what is unique about your company and why they should purchase your services. State what makes you different from your competitors. Have you been in business for a long time? Do you service more customers in your area than competitors? Do you have special knowledge or skill that other companies do not? Are you licensed and insured? Whatever it is, it is important that your prospective customers know why they should hire you.

Think Long Term

Sometimes, you will get phone calls from people who are not yet ready to buy, who are just shopping around, or who are looking for something you don’t offer. No matter how unlikely it may seem that they will purchase your services, always remember that they could need your services at a later date or may have friends and family they send your way. If you impress them with your thoroughness and friendliness regardless of their likelihood to buy, you are much more likely to make an impression that will be remembered.

Voicemail That Sells

For the times when your business is closed or it is impossible for someone to answer the phone, be sure that your voicemail greeting is set up to be brief, professional and friendly. A great example that Goodzer has seen work well for many customers is “Thank you for calling XXXX Company! We are currently assisting another customer. Please leave your name, phone number and a brief description of the work you need done and we will call you right back.”

A phone call conversation is usually the very first impression that a potential customer has of your company and is what determines whether they will ultimately hire you or someone else. Make sure you give it your best shot so your business can flourish.