By |Published On: February 13, 2014|

Inbound calls from consumers to local businesses are on the rise. Here’s how to take advantage of that trend.

The majority (61%) of local business owners say an inbound phone call is the most valuable type of lead. Well, I have good news. A 2013 Google study found that 70% of mobile searchers call a business right from the search results.

The proliferation of smartphones has caused a tremendous rise in local search. What’s local search? It’s when someone searches for a business, product or service within a specific geographical area—like auto repair marion ohio.

What makes local search special is the intent behind the search. These are buyers looking for a seller. They’ve already made a decision to buy and they’re looking for a local merchant who can provide it.

Inbound Calls Are on the Rise

In 2013, mobile search generated 30 billion inbound sales calls to US businesses … and that number is growing. But all these phone calls have put larger companies at a disadvantage. They can’t seem to figure out what marketing programs are making their phones ring. And they don’t know how to route these calls to the right person.

This gives smaller businesses the advantage—if you know how to exploit it. For instance, did you know you have a greater chance of making contact with a new lead if you call back within the first five minutes?

But if you wait 30 minutes, the odds drop off dramatically.

A 2007 study found that:

… a rep is 100x less likely to make contact if the first call is made 30 minutes after submission. The odds of making contact drop by 3000x if the first call is made 5 hours after lead submission.

It gets worse.

If you don’t make contact within the first 30 minutes, the likelihood that your lead will set an appointment or enter your sales cycle drops 21 times.

That was in 2007. Yet, seven years later, most businesses still aren’t responding fast enough:

The average company still takes 46 hours to attempt their first callback, and the average sales rep only makes 1.2 call back attempts before they give up and move on. Our continued research shows that only 27% of leads ever get called.

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Want a slice of those 30 billion inbound sales calls? I thought you might. Here are three steps to put in place right away.

Get a Mobile Strategy

Is your website mobile-friendly? If not, 61 percent of smartphone users will leave your non-mobile site.

Get Mobile

What’s more, they’ll go to a competitors’ site that is mobile-friendly. Ouch.

Claim Your Google Listing

Claiming your Google listing helps you appear in the local section of the search results and Google Maps, for both computers and mobile phones:

Claim your Google Listing

Google reserves this section for local businesses. Only those with a physical location will appear in this area. This helps local companies compete against national brands.

If Possible, Don’t Let Phone Calls go to Voice Mail

As I said earlier, the odds of bringing someone into your sales cycle plummets after just 30 minutes. So why let incoming calls go to voice mail, if you can avoid it? Consider the return on investment of hiring someone to answer your telephone.

Staff Your Phones with the Right People

A former regional sales manager of mine told us of her search for a dentist who offered early morning appointments. What happened next emphasizes the importance of staffing your phones with the right people.

The first dentist she called didn’t offer early morning appointments. A poor receptionist would have said, “Sorry, we don’t do that.”

Not this receptionist. She assured her that their practice provided speedy service; that she’d get in and out with minimal waiting.

The lesson here is be sure the people manning your phones have excellent sales skills, as well as customer service skills.

Remember, all any advertising can do is make your phone ring. After that, it’s up to you.

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