Receptionist, Killer of Sales

If I called your business right now, how would it go?

I was sitting in a large conference room with a client of mine. We were there to listen to this “big wig” of the industry who had flown in to tell us about what was working for other companies around the country. This guy was fairly high up in their $3 billion company. I was nervous and intimidated.

Like a little kid at the school dance.

Things started to look promising as I told him about all the upgrades I had made to my client’s sales and marketing.

The sales funnel we had designed. The software we were using. The training we put in place for the sales reps.

We had spent a lot of time and money to get all of this right.

Mr. Big Wig said all of that sounded good. Nice work, he said.

Ahhh, acceptance. I’m practically schooling this guy. I wonder if he needs me to run the $3 billion company.

Then he starts talking about how a lot of businesses work on the latest greatest marketing schemes and they forget about the basics.

He said the question is, after we have spent all this time and money to get the phone to ring, how were those calls being handled?

Uh oh. I get a funny feeling in my stomach.

He grabbed the landline phone, put it on speaker, and dialed the office number. The office where we are sitting in the conference room at that moment. The receptionist answers. He pretended to be a potential customer who wanted more information to set up a meeting with a sales rep.

It didn’t go well.

The lady at the front desk answered and said the company name so fast that none of us could understand it. It sounded like she said “Pharmgatraggerj”. That is not the company name.

She sounded grumpy.

He asked her a few questions about the company.

She couldn’t answer any of them.

He said after seeing our marketing all over town he might want a rep to come and talk to him.

She said everyone in the office was busy and he would have to wait until next week.

He said that could work.

She forgot to ask for his address!

He finally hung up and put us out of our misery. We all sat there for a minute.

I was embarrassed. It wasn’t her fault. It was mine.
Back to junior high dance boy.

All I could say was, “Well, damn.”

It reminded me of something Seth Godin had written years ago called…
The $20,000 Phone Call.

When a homeowner decides to put his house on sale and calls a broker…

When he calls the moving company…

When a family arrives in town and calls someone recommended as the family doctor…

When a wealthy couple calls their favorite fancy restaurant looking for a reservation…

Go down the list. Stockbrokers, even hairdressers. And not just people who recently moved. When a new referral shows up, all that work and expense, and then the phone rings and it gets answered by your annoyed, overworked, burned out, never very good at it anyway receptionist, it all falls apart.

What is the doctor thinking when she allows her neither pleasant nor interested in new patients receptionist to answer the phone?

If I called your business right now, how would it go?

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