The good, the bad and the ugly. The process of handling new business enquiries comes in all shapes and sizes. To help you better understand what happens in your firm and where there might be room for improvement, Clare Yates, Senior Business Development Manager at tmgroup shares 5 questions that every firm should know the answer to…
1. What happens when potential clients ring through to your firm?
Do they get straight through to a dedicated team, trained and responsible for handling new business enquiries? Or do they have to speak to a Receptionist first and negotiate their way to the right department, navigate a complex call answering service, or wait on hold hoping someone will eventually pick up the phone?
If you don’t know the answer, why not try ringing the number displayed on your website and experiencing it first-hand? After all, speed kills the competition – and it’s critical that a potential new client gets through to the right person quickly.
2. Is every call being handled by the best person for the job?
If you aren’t fortunate enough to have a dedicated new business team, your calls are most likely making their way to your Fee Earners’ office… and the start of a make or break situation.
If your team is ready and willing to take the call, there’s plenty of opportunity for the caller to be nurtured into a happy client. However, if you find yourself “drawing straws” before eventually picking up the phone with a sigh, the opportunity is at risk.
According to research by Professor Ian Cooper:
• Over 85% of firms treat ‘residential conveyancing quotes’ as a purely ‘low level’ administrative task.
• 90% of call handlers admit that they don’t actively like handling quotes, or are not very good at it. Not exactly a recipe for conversion success!
What’s happening in your team? Is the best-skilled person picking up the phone with a smile? Or is the only available person clock-watching as they try to wrap up the call and get back to their other work?
Not sure? Well, the right person is probably really easy to spot as they clearly enjoy handling these sort of calls and are already proving successful in winning new business. If you don’t already record or listen to calls, this could be a great place to start to identify who has a natural affinity with customers.
3. Do you have a robust process in place for making the most of each call?
Even the most willing of call handlers risk falling flat without a proper process in place. Is everyone using the same checklist to help make the most of every opportunity?
Professor Ian Cooper also reports that “in over a third of all calls, the party did not know who they were talking to, as the caller’s name was not taken, and the call handler had not introduced themselves!”
If you don’t have a process in place (or think the one you do have needs refining), here’s a simple checklist of questions to ask:
• Name, email address and telephone number
• Why are they moving? New school catchment area? Downsizing?
• Where are they moving to? Is it local?
• When do they need or expect to be in their new home?
• Who is moving with them? Children? Parents? Pets?
The latter questions are particularly important, as understanding the story behind each move can help to shape the call, as well as get every customer journey off to the best start.
4. Are you following up after every call?
It’s critical that you follow up with the caller if you want to convert the opportunity into new business – and not let your efforts go to waste.
Sadly, not every firm is doing this well. Some simply assume that the caller will come back to them if they want to move things forward. However, this approach can prompt the caller to take their business elsewhere – assuming you just didn’t care enough to get back in touch.
Don’t be disheartened. There is business to be won and a quick follow-up call an hour after the original conversation can make all the difference to your conversion rates. You can even warm the caller up by saying “I’ll send you a quick email now and phone you back in an hour or so to see if you have any questions.”
5. Are you measuring your conversion rates?
Whatever approach you are taking to handling new business enquiries, you should have a good understanding of how well things are going.
• Do you record your calls?
• Do you know what your conversion rate is?
• Do you know who has the best call handling skills in your team and what sets them apart?
• Do you know where the call came from? Your website? A flyer drop? Recent social media campaign?
Once you know the answers to these questions, you can look for patterns and see where there is room for improvement. You can also start making changes and monitoring overall success.
If you would like to find out more about how to handle your new business enquiries more effectively, please get in touch with me: firstname.lastname@example.org.