Is your office manager, or whoever's answering the phone, killing all of your sales? Are they a total grouch? Are you spending money on marketing but not getting leads? Well, it could be that the person answering your phone is blowing the deal. And in today's episode, I'm going to share with you what we call The Grouchy Greeter Test. This is a way that you can ‘secret shopper’ your own company and find out just how grouchy or friendly, warm, and wonderful the person answering your phone is.
My name's Jack Jostes, and welcome to The Landscaper's Guide to Modern Sales and Marketing Podcast. This show is all about helping you increase your profit, increase your close rate, and have a better lifestyle. But that can't happen if the front end of the whole experience with your company is negative. And in today's video, I'm going to share with you some real stories about a grouchy person who answered the phone for one of my clients, and what happened when they replaced that person.
Is The Person Answering Your Phone A Grouch?
I worked with a high-end design build client from an affluent area on the east coast. We worked with them on their logo, their new website, they'd been around for like 20 years. And we helped them upgrade these things because they were way out of date. We helped them get found on Google through SEO, and all of those things were working, right? They were ranking, they were getting traffic, but they weren't getting the leads. They weren't getting the phone calls. And we found in their audit, when we started working with them that they didn't have very many good reviews. And I continually bring this up with them because people read reviews before they call you. And even after they call you, they're reading your reviews. And they were one of the lower rated, just from, they didn't necessarily have negative reviews, but they didn't have very many, they only had three or four.
And they said, “Well, Jack, listen. Our customers are affluent. They're different. The affluent don't really use the internet and they don't read reviews.” And I had to push back a bit because we knew who their top competitor was, and we knew that their top competitor often charges more than they do to highly affluent customers. And why would they have 40 ... They had literally 45 more reviews. Why is that?
And they finally started to come around to it. And when they finally started asking their customers for reviews and we broke the magic number, which is having at least 10 Google reviews, their phones started ringing, they started getting leads.
But then they told me, hey, our leads, aren't closing. This just isn't working. We're frustrated. I was frustrated because they were ranking well, they were getting the traffic, they were getting the leads, but they weren't closing.
And so one day I tried to call them. And I just called their main office line, and I went through their phone tree. And I clicked on whatever number for the extension that I needed to talk to. And when the person who answered the phone, they answered and they said, "Hello, how may I help you?"
And I was like, "Oh, is Mary there? May I please speak to Mary?"
"No, Mary's not in right now. Can I take a message?" And they, I'm exaggerating a little bit, but this person made me feel like I was interrupting them, like I was stupid. And they had no idea who I was. They didn't know that it was Jack The Web Guy, or a sales and marketing person, whatever. I was just somebody who clicked to talk to somebody at their company.
And I shared this with them and they said, oh, well, this person has worked here for a long time and we'll talk to them. And it didn't really improve. About six months later, this person quit for a different reason. And the vice president of the company, who's also the wife of the president who founded the company, she started answering the phone. And she's the most wonderful person, she's so warm and friendly. She's the life of the party kind of person. I just enjoy working with her so much.
And when she started answering the phone, they started selling big jobs. Big design, build jobs, huge sales. And when we talked to them about this, we realized that it was, part of the problem was the reviews were missing, right? You've got to do all of these things in the tree of good fortune. We talk about building out a limb for each service and each city, that's part of it.
You've got to build links. You've got to have the website, you've got to have the reviews. And then you've got to have the human element of answering the phone politely. So I created something called the grouchy greeter test, and it has seven key points that I'm going to go through with you now, so you can use this to see, are you answering the phone in a positive way that moves the sale along? Or are you scaring people away?
So for The Grouchy Greeter Test, there are seven possible points. There are seven things, and you can either give yourself a zero, it's bad or it's not happening. A 0.5, it's okay. Or a 1, you're doing this really well.
Point #1: Is The Phone Being Answered?
Now, you wouldn't believe this, but nearly 70% of all phone calls to small businesses are entirely unanswered. They just don't answer them. And a lot of people think, oh, they'll leave a voicemail. But guess what? Most people don't leave a voicemail. So you've got to have a system in place to have the phone answered. And that might include, after five rings, that you outsource the answering of your phone to a call service. There are a lot of different companies where you can do this, and they can at least answer the phone, collect the information, send it back to you so you don't lose the sale entirely.
So that's the first one, answering the phone. Which happens to be one of our core values at Ramblin' Jackson, is Be Human and Pick Up The Damn Phone, right? And with landscaping, people hate this. They call people, leave a voicemail. They never hear back. If you want to win, answer the phone.
Point #2: Rapport Building
The next one is rapport. Meaning, are they building rapport? Are they asking questions like, hey, how are you today? And how can I help? And by the way, do you have any pets or anything that might impact your backyard?
Asking questions to establish some relationship should be something that you're doing on this first phone call to make people feel comfortable with you, which is similar to, but different from, this next point, which is warmth.
Point #3: Warmth
Are you warm on the phone, or do you sound like the lady from Ghostbusters? If you say, "Hello, Johnson Landscaping, how may I help you?" People are going to, they're going to, oh, I was thinking about spending $30,000, but now I'm kind of scared. Right? So don't blow the deal by being cold. And I need to work on this with my own voice. It should be warm and pleasant. And hi, thanks for calling Ramblin' Jackson, this is Jack, right?
That's different from how I'm talking most of the time. In my disc profile I'm a high-D kind of task person and that's fine. But if I answer the phone that way, it might feel abrasive to a potential customer. So coach your people on being warm on the phone, right?
Point #4: Ask Open-Ended Questions
The next one is asking open-ended questions. In the beginning you might need to ask questions like, hey, can you tell me what zip code you're in? And if they're in the no-zone, you need to tell them soon in that call. Hey, thanks so much. We actually don't service that area. There's this great website, thumbtack.com where you can search by zip code and find a contractor near you.
But after you get some of the biggest disqualification done of zip code, right? Asking open-ended questions like, oh, how are you envisioning using this space? Have you tried doing this yourself in the past? They might say, “Oh yeah, we were hoping to build a fire pit and I did try it myself. We bought all this material from Home Depot, but we realized it was a total disaster.” Oh, okay. Would it be okay if I asked you about your budget range for this project, right?
Point #5: Communicate Your Process
The next one is communicating the process. So once you've outlined the process in your sales process, you should be communicating this process on this first call. Hey, thanks so much. The next step is a phone call with our senior landscape designer. Before we get that scheduled, would it be okay if I asked you a few questions? Great.
Now they know that the next step is a phone call, right? You don't have to have whoever's answering the phone be a total sales pro. They might not be able to qualify and disqualify as well as somebody who has more experience. And that's why you could let them know that the next step is potentially another qualifying phone call. Totally acceptable to schedule another call with people.
Or if you're going to go out for a site visit, or if you're going to charge a design fee, or if you charge for that first visit, communicating the process and helping people understand that, you can get another point for that.
Point #6: Get Contact Information
The next point is getting contact information. Chances are, you might not get everything scheduled or coordinated on the first call. But hey, would it be okay if I asked for your phone number and email so we can follow up with you? Great. And by the way, what was your last name, Jack? Oh, Jack Jostes, great. What's your email? Now, boom. Now I at least have a lead that I can follow up with. And bonus points if you can get their address, and now you might even be able to send them mail, different things like that, and really help move people along.
Point #7: Say ‘No’, OR Book The Next Step
Now, the last part here is where you're going to need a little more sales skill, and it's saying no, or booking the next step. So the call might end like this; Hey, you know what? It sounds like you're looking for poison ivy removal in a zip code that we actually don't even service. We don't even do poison ivy removal as a standalone project. So unfortunately we're not able to help you.
Great, have a bell in your office that you rang when whoever answers the phone tells somebody no. Telling people no actually serves them. It serves the customer. If you know it's a no, get to the no sooner, it'll help them find somebody who's excited to do that work for them. And it actually preserves your reputation to tell people no, earlier.
And then if it's a yes, getting that next step scheduled. This is the final point here, is getting the next step in the process actually scheduled. Whether it's a phone call, an onsite evaluation, sending them a questionnaire via email, whatever that next step is. Get that point there. If you help the person answering your phone do these seven things, you will close much better leads. Because if they tell the wrong fits no, that's going to save you a lot of time. And they move the right fits to a yes, that'll be great too.
So I hope that you don't have a grouch answering the phone. I hope that you're not a grouch. A lot of times I call business owners and they sound pretty grouchy. They're doing landscaping. "Hello, I'm in a hole. I'm digging a hole. Can I help you?" Right. Okay. Just take a minute, answer the phone with some grace. It's going to do really great, really, really great things for you. And I can't wait to work with you on this. There's way more to do, to really dial in your sales process in addition to having this.
Getting to the point where you can figure out how to create the script for your first phone call, that's one of the things we're going to do at our upcoming Landscaper’s Guide To An Optimized Sales Process Workshop, where we're going to mail you The Landscaper’s Sales Process Workbook. Yes, a print workbook with fill in the blank questions.
I'm going to coach you through it in a live event, it's limited in size, so that way we can still give people individual feedback on things. We're going to mail you a book and some other things, it's going to be awesome. So check it out at landscapersales.com, buy a ticket. And I hope to see you there. My name's Jack Jostes, and thanks so much for checking out today's episode of The Landscapers Guide to Modern Sales and Marketing Podcast. I look forward to talking with you next week.