Encouraging the best type of enquiry: the phone call

I’d be prepared to bet that for most of us, the best response we can get from any advertising is a phone call. However, it’s clear that many companies have just settled for second best, hiding their phone number away somewhere on the website, and instead focusing everything on a “fill in the form” response. Could this be a mistake? Could we actually generate more phone calls?

Let’s think about this. Prospects can be put into three categories. Those who want to telephone us will seek out our telephone number unless it’s really well hidden. Those who will never telephone us, for whatever reason, can be ignored here. But in the middle is a huge group who might call us if they’re incentivised to do so.

We need to consider the reasons why they won’t. Maybe they suspect it’ll take lots of explaining themselves to get to speak to the right person. Maybe they think nobody will be there. Whatever the case, for some people the default position is that telephoning us will be a chore.

What if they’re looking for a specific product or service and it’s unclear from our website if we have that available? They’re not inclined to telephone us, and although they could ask via our enquiry form, that route might take days to get a response. For these people (and most of us have done this), the best option is to go back to Google and try to find another supplier who clearly does offer the right product or service. Yet a quick phone call would have got us the sale.

They didn’t make that call because they’d set an imaginary bar just too high. So how can we lower that bar? How can we make them think: “Let’s call these people and see if they can supply what I want?”

It’s a question of identifying what might make them avoid reaching for the telephone, and overcoming that objection. I think that the problem usually lies in the prospect overestimating how long it’ll take to get an answer from us. If we can convince them that the call will be answered first time, by the person they need to speak to (so they don’t have to explain themselves twice), we might get a result. Instead of just using the telephone number to fill a space on our website, or daringly adding: “Contact Us”, let’s assure them that if they pick up the phone, they’ll get the answer they need in seconds. Something like this might just make a difference:


(Oh, and – as ever – if you want people to believe they’re going to instantly be talking to an engineer who can help them, show somebody who looks like an engineer who can help them. Feel free to show Miss World moonlighting on your sales desk between beauty pageants – but don’t expect prospects to find that reassuring.)

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