As a small business owner, you’ve got more options than ever for reaching out and connecting with clients and prospects. So many, in fact, that an old-fashioned phone call might sound a bit primitive. And picking up the phone isn’t without risk: if you start dialing everyone on your contact list, you’re likely to annoy at least a few people in the process.
But sometimes a phone call is the right move and will lead to your next sale or customer. The question is, how do you know when a contact is worth reaching out to and will appreciate the call?
Here are seven signs you should call that client or prospective client.
1. They reached out to you.
This may sound obvious, but it’s worth a reminder: you should put anyone who has actively reached out to you, whether by phone, email or social media, at the top of your call list. Failing to get back to someone who has shown this level of interest is a huge missed opportunity.
This applies to both new prospects and existing clients. Keeping them happy and informed will give you a better chance of not only earning their repeat business, but turning that client into a source of referrals. And don’t forget that dissatisfied clients talk too. In fact, 95 percent are likely to share a bad experience with others.
Regardless of who’s on the line, make it a priority to return your calls at the first available moment, or set a clear expectation of when you can.
One caveat: if someone reaches out to you via email, text, social media or another digital method, it’s a good idea to use that same medium to respond. Following up on an email with an unexpected phone call can be off-putting for some people. You should be catering to their communication preferences, not forcing them to cater to yours.
2. They keep opening your email newsletters.
Don’t take your email openers for granted. Even if they don’t take any other action, a client opening your marketing emails — especially on a regular basis — is a big deal. Of the average 121 emails received each day, people statistically open only 22 percent of them. If you’ve got a serial opener on your hands, you’re doing something right.
When you notice a contact with this promising pattern of activity, drill down to see what topics seem to be piquing their interest. If they’re clicking on links, review that data as well. The goal is to flag any trends and use those insights as conversation starters for your upcoming call.
While they may not need your services right away, this segment of your list is more likely to remember who you are and be receptive to a conversation.
For OutboundEngine customers, we make this step foolproof. Our customers get a list of engaged contacts to follow up with after every single campaign (which we create and send for them).
3. They visited a key page on your website.
You do have a website, right? If you don’t, or if it’s been years since your site saw an update, get that taken care of first.
But assuming your website checks all the boxes and uses a modern technology platform, you likely have the ability to see your traffic to each page. Depending on your specific industry, you probably have certain pages that are “hotter” than others, meaning a visitor to that page is more likely to become a client than a visitor to other pages on your site.
This may be a pricing page, an FAQ page, or even a contact or referral page. In the marketing world, we consider these leads to be lower in the sales funnel (closer to making a transaction) and treat them differently than those at the top of the funnel. You can do the same for your visitors by prioritizing those who hit your most valuable pages.
4. They engage with your brand on social media.
With the proper follow-through, a like, share or retweet can turn a follower into a customer. This is another instance where you’re looking for a pattern of activity — someone who likes a single post is better prospect than someone who has never heard of you, but someone who shares a post, or likes multiple posts, or comments on your posts, is better still.
Not only does paying attention to social media engagement give you conversation fodder, it also gives you insight into what kind of content to post in the future. It pays to practice regular social media listening.
5. They’re about to hit a key milestone.
If you’re keeping good records in your CRM software, you should know when a client is about to reach an important milestone and consider whether that’s worth a phone call (or an email, or even a text message). This may be as simple as wishing them a happy birthday, but the list of milestones can get much longer.
Depending on your industry, consider reaching out when:
- It’s been a month, six months, or a year since a major transaction.
- They just renewed or are about to renew service with you.
- It’s been a few weeks since you resolved an issue for them.
- Their anniversary of when they became a customer is coming up.
The list goes on. Get creative and think of specific, meaningful milestones that affect your relationship with your customers. Then, use those as an excuse to reach out.
6. They reached out, but then went dark.
Ever had a promising voicemail, email or first conversation with a prospect, only to never hear from them again? Missing an opportunity is bad, but the mystery of why they went dark can be just as frustrating.
If you left your last conversation in a good place, and it’s been enough time that a phone call won’t come off as overly desperate, it’s probably a good idea to give them one last call before you write off that prospect. They might have simply been distracted by other priorities, and a quick follow-up is exactly what they need to get back on the path to a transaction.
Even if they already chose a competitor or decided they don’t need you, a friendly call (no hard feelings!) will leave a positive impression.
7. They’re receptive to phone calls.
If a client ever outright tells you what their preferred method of communication is, write it down! Or better yet, enter it into your CRM software and treat it as a near-ironclad rule for that person. You should meet them where they are, not force them to use whatever medium you default to.
While some people (especially younger people) avoid calls at all costs, others actually enjoy a phone chat, especially if you have a solid relationship with that client. So after you’ve called everyone who meets the six qualifications above, consider reaching out by phone to anyone who has either expressed an explicit preference for calls, or those who have been receptive to your proactive outreach calls in the past.
Even with more communication channels available to small businesses than ever before, sometimes picking up the phone is still the right move. Pay attention to these seven signs to be sure you’re calling the right clients and prospects.
Want to simplify this entire process? OutboundEngine surfaces your best, most engaged contacts so you’re never confused about who to call. Click here to request a demo with one of our small business advisors.