May I Take Your Order? The Benefits of Selling by Phone

When you sell a lot of inventory every day, particularly if you do it online, you concentrate on fulfillment and accuracy. Chances are, you’re always looking for ways to improve your online ordering process.

But if your product and ordering pages never mention a phone number, you’re missing a significant part of your customer base.

The fact is, the internet is merely one sales channel. Important as online ordering is, it’s only one way to sell products. Some people still prefer to shop in person, watch infomercials, and order by phone. This is another sales channel—and it’s not going away anytime soon.

The QVC Factor

Most people think of the typical infomercial watcher as either a bored insomniac or perpetual couch potato who’s addicted to QVC and other home shopping networks. But QVC has been a massive success for more than 25 years. That’s nothing to laugh about (unless you’re QVC).

Of course, QVC uses certain unique tactics to make the process work: 1. Product descriptions delivered by an engaging host, 2. straight talk from the product’s creator, and 3. extensive air time touting all the product’s benefits.

However, none of these tactics would work without one key element: customer calls.

Another key to QVC’s success is learning the right method for customer engagement and interaction. When you talk to a QVC operator, you’ll have an easy ordering experience, period. The reason? These are customer service representatives who know the right formula. They don’t follow scripts that irritate customers—they merely have a system that they’ve perfected over time.

Effective Cross Selling

You may have a fantastic online sales process. Your in-house sales may seem beyond reproach. But sales by phone can also work for you if you hire true professionals to take those phone orders. Professionals will understand your products and be able to explain the details to your customers.

Additionally, upselling and cross selling work better by phone than online. Face it; many customers have learned to tune out the visual prompts that say “recommended products” or “customers who purchased X also purchased Y.”

Now—think about a typical phone order. If the customer sounds unsure about a product, the professional order taker can suggest an alternative product or important accessory. That’s effective cross sales.

Customer Loyalty and Appreciation

When customers complain, they do it loudly. Not only can this be embarrassing, it can wreck your bottom line. And one of the things many consumers complain about online is finding no phone numbers on a business website.

On the other hand, if your customer has easy access to a phone number, either for ordering or just more information, they’re happier. When you show that you appreciate customers and want to talk to them in person, they’ll reward you by sticking around. After all, we tend to appreciate those who appreciate us!

Remember, even if your online ordering process is a well-oiled machine, you’ll build better human relationships by phone.

Prompt Service

Sure, ordering online is what most customers prefer. It’s quick. It’s easy. Plus, if your phone lines are always busy (or, worse, if you’re forced to put customers on hold), phone ordering can be irritating.

That said, if you invest in a truly responsive phone service, all those concerns become non-issues. Customers will be delighted if your customer service representatives answer right away. They’ll be even more amazed if they receive prompt, knowledgeable answers to their ordering questions.

Think about it. If an avid DIY customer wants to build a new shed in the back yard, does he or she get information at Lowe’s online, or in person? One of the reasons certain companies (like Lowe’s) do so well with customers is because they know how to help people one-on-one, in real time, face-to-face.

A good phone representative has the same skills, even if it’s not face-to-face. There are companies who really understand this well, like Land’s End, State Farm, and Trader Joe’s. Prompt, knowledgeable service counts. If you provide that by phone, and not just online, your customers will notice.

Active Listening

When you choose a call center, ask them to explain their customer service routine. Your customers will be speaking to these people, not seeing them in person. Pay attention to the following communication factors:

  • Presentation – What kind of vocal inflection does the operator use? Does the pace seem unhurried and the tone feel caring?
  • Listening skills – Does the operator listen actively and understand what the customer needs?
  • Limited hold time – Will your customers stay on the line, or will the call need to be placed on hold? Limit the hold time and operator silences to keep the customer engaged.
  • Knowledge – Does the operator really understand the product so he/she can explain it in detail to the customer?
  • Efficiency – Are there a lot of time-wasters or “fillers” in the conversation? Customers want to cut to the chase.
  • Positive appreciation – Will customers feel appreciated when they’re ordering by phone? They enjoy being on the phone with a positive representative, especially if they’re thanked for their time.

In the end, your customers will want to order more often if they have a great phone conversation. Get on the line to a good calling outsourcer to see your phone sales increase.

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