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How to increase sales conversions over the telephone

Tips for successful sales and marketing part 1:
Increase sales conversions by improving response handling in your organisation

Mediahawk has been working with organisations to track their telephone response from advertising since 2002. During this time we have monitored thousands of campaigns and helped various organisations improve their telephone effectiveness and increase sales as a result. By using call tracking to monitor marketing calls, problems can be identified and sales will improve. There is no point in spending thousands of pounds on advertising campaigns to generate sales calls if the conversion is not managed effectively. In this article, we look at how to put in place some simple processes to improve telephone sales effectiveness by streamlining the flow of enquiries and increasing the efficiency of the sales team.

Easy steps to improving sales conversions

  • Review inbound sales call statistics to identify response issues
  • Reduce the amount of missed calls by setting up diverts
  • Review the use of IVR’s
  • Listen to calls to be aware of the customer journey
  • Ensure messages are taken and followed up promptly
  • Prepare staff for any likely increase in call volumes

The Customer Journey 
When a company decides to implement telephone tracking, they instantly get an insight into how a customer interacts with their business. For many purchases, customers will ring before they buy a product and therefore the first stage of improving sales is to review the process of how calls reach the sales team. One of the key benefits of using call tracking numbers is being able to monitor the number of calls made into an organisation. In addition, call tracking will demonstrate how many calls are being missed because they ring out or are engaged. If you are looking at improving sales conversions, the first step is to understand the customer journey and whether there are problems with getting calls through to the sales team.

Calls can be lost for the following reasons:

  • Callers being placed on hold for long periods
  • Callers being diverted to different departments
  • Callers receiving an engaged tone

Using a trackable telephone number to monitor inbound sales enquiries would help to alleviate these issues as any missed calls would be tracked and identified through online reporting.  Also, the calls could be recorded to allow the organisation to listen to a customer’s journey from dialling your number to eventually speaking to a sales person.

Organisations often miss calls due to poor telephone infrastructure. For instance, if a receptionist cannot pick up a call does the phone ring out or is it diverted to another department, eventually reaching a voicemail? According to statistics, 65% of callers will not leave a message on voicemail. If this caller has just visited your website and decided to call you, they are unlikely to leave a message as telephone callers from websites are often ready to buy. By not addressing your telephone response handling issues you are cutting your conversions by half. Define a process for receiving sales calls and set up diverts if necessary. Review this process at least once a week to check it is still working using a call tracking number, call recording and online reporting.

Press 1 to get Frustrated
Another area that stops sales calls getting through to companies is the introduction of the IVR (interactive voice response) which allows customers to press buttons to put them through to different departments. The problem with IVRs is that, whilst they can be very useful when dealing with large volumes of traffic, in certain markets they can put customers off. We have examples of some companies that find that they lose up to 50% of their calls when a customer comes to an IVR. We believe that IVRs are extremely beneficial when implemented correctly, but their power and disadvantages need to be understood; especially when dealing with customer enquiries. If a company uses an IVR when they do not have large volumes of calls, we recommend making sure they come into effect after a certain period of rings, thus allowing for a human voice to answer the phone. Customers like to talk to human beings so give them the chance to do this before you automate the call handling. It can give the impression that you don’t want their call so use in extreme cases only.

Call Recording 
If call recording is used with a trackable number then a customer’s telephone journey can be listened to to understand how long it takes to get through to a salesperson. Often, when a call is listed as being long in duration, it can mean that the caller was left on hold for long periods. If there are insufficient sales people to answer the telephone then a process should be put in place to minimise customer inconvenience, making sure they are contacted if they do leave a message. By going back over every sales call, the organisation can listen to the journey that customer made to get to a sales person. At this point the organisation can address the issue of telephone handling and begin to improve the conversions from telephone leads.

Call tracking numbers with call recording allows companies to understand and review their customer squeeze points and implement steps that minimise their impact. The more squeeze points can be minimised, the easier it is for a customer to get through to the sales team. However, the importance of removing the squeeze points needs to be seen in the context of the market in which a company operates. Where a product is low value and talking to a customer costs money then there may be a justifiable strategy to increase the squeeze points and minimise human interaction by trying to get customers to purchase online. However, if this strategy is to be adopted, then it should be done with the confidence that you are purposefully trying to dissuade customer from talking to you and can expect negative customer criticism – the airline industry is a perfect example of this strategy.

In this article, we have tried to show that by understanding the customer telephone journey using call tracking, it is possible to identify squeeze points that deter and stop vital customer interaction. Whilst this may be a stated strategy, for many companies this is not a laudable aim and the object is to simplify the process to ensure enquiries come through as quickly and effectively as possible. It is not difficult to monitor sales calls and if you implement the tips suggested, you will definitely improve your conversion rates.

To find out more about our call tracking solutions, please get in touch.

Watch out for part 2 in this series:
The secret to increasing conversions from telephone enquiries

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