Make sure the gateway to your business hits the profit sweet spot

I found myself shamelessly gorging on a packet of frozen chocolate bullets.

It wasn’t long before I chipped a back tooth. Not happy! But, I probably had it coming. My troubled tooth began to slowly have its way with me – sending me deeper into neurosis with each tickling tongue pass. So, first thing Monday morning, I was on a mission to seek help.

I went straight to my trusted network for a referral. Surly someone knows a good dentist nearby? I was wrong. I could have posted the question on Facebook or Twitter, but I emphasise the word ‘trusted’ and most friends or followers are people I’ve never met at all.

Next, I flipped open my laptop to search Google, not the ideal sourcing method in this instance, but I was in a hurry. I found three dentists for a comparison. I then quickly skimmed their websites, taking note of the design quality, and to identify any dodgy characters, likely to cause me any undue pain and suffering. Thankfully, I found none.

The first call was answered swiftly and cheerfully, but by an answering machine. Next! The second told me they were closed tomorrow (failing to explain why) and then added they’re pretty full all week. I responded, ‘That’s okay, I’ll ring around.’ She nonchalantly agreed and hung up. In the third call, the receptionist asked some questions, including if I was in any pain, which put me at ease. She then booked me in the day after next. Done!

What’s interesting in this example is how I and indeed most of us seek out professional services. If there’s not a direct positive established relationship, the first place we go is our trusted network. Failing that, the next destination will invariably be Google, and third, well, as you can see from my story, there wasn’t one.

Forget Dentist #1, they’re not interested. As for Dentist #2, albeit the receptionist, she didn’t understand how important my initial business was, as a result, removed the possibility of repeat business and ultimately my loyalty and referrals: the real profit centre of any business.

If you hire someone responsible for taking inbound enquires, make sure they’re equipped with the right skills and support. Furthermore, ensure they understand how important it is to win new business; whether time and money invested in manufacturing, high ranks in Google, or the meaningful work a team member has done in the past. Just make sure they get it!

Treat the initial conversation proficiently as you’re not likely to get another opportunity.

This article was first published on January 21, 2011.

Trent Leyshan is the founder of BOOM!, Australia’s leading sales training and development specialist. He is the co-founder of Expand People and author of OUTLAW: Fight for your customers and sell without fear.

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