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My Friend Needed an Integrator, but Nobody was Answering Their Phone

A friend of mine is relocating from London to the east coast and wanted us to design a control system for his new home under construction. Because his new house is seven hours away from our office, I let him know that it was best if we found him a quality integrator in his new hometown, as that relationship would carry forward long after the initial installation.

After some begging and pleading from him, he finally saw my logic. I offered to scout out some home technology companies and provide him three solid referrals. I recommended he interview each company and pick one with the best personality fit. One of my mentors is fond of saying, “First pick who, then pick what.”

For once, I found myself in the shoes of a client researching service providers in another market. I seldom have cause to look for CEDIA members in other parts of the country, so this was a great opportunity to take a look at our industry through fresh eyes.

I used the CEDIA member locator and a few other manufacturer search tools to find a list of integrators. After checking out their web sites (all of them looked great), I began calling phone numbers one by one. I was floored with what came next. Voicemail. Yep. Voicemail.

Some of these companies appeared to be doing multiple millions in business, and I was getting voicemail? I kept on dialing without leaving a message. My perception of leaving a voicemail was that I might get a returned phone call long after my need had been fulfilled. I eventually got ahold of two people. One was an administrative person who wanted to take down my information for a call back from a sales person. The other appeared to be the company owner, who immediately recognized the opportunity for what it was and couldn’t have been more helpful. I asked the owner if our conversation timing was accidental or engineered. He replied that he happened to be in the office but more often than not he’s in the field and our call could’ve just as easily gone to voicemail.

Is this article sending chills up your spine and stressing you out? That’s the exact reaction I had when I realized that while you’ll always get a live person when you call Livewire, you might not get the right person. I still have no idea how to solve for this one. The people answering our sales line for the most part are administrative (they rock, but they’re not salespeople). We also have an answering service where calls roll over if we don’t pick up the line after three rings. The answering service folks beat voicemail, but they’re not knowledgeable and don’t necessarily represent our brand all that well. It bothers me we can’t make every incoming sales interaction perform at the level it did when it was just me answering the phones.

Our approach in 2018 will be to tweak our incoming call model a little bit to route all sales calls to our inside sales person. Hopefully we’ll be able to triage better and identify opportunities which need to be quickly escalated and handled by one of our outside sales people.

One thing’s for sure, nothing good ever comes from asking someone to leave a voicemail on a sales line.

How do you keep your incoming sales inquiries warmed up and closeable?

Stay frosty and see you in the field.