Sales and Marketing Tactics Change, but the Need to Close Sales Doesn’t
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
In the early days of the telephone answering service industry, most all clients were local. This was because a physical off premise extension of the customers’ phone line needed to be installed in the answering service. If the client wasn’t local to the answering service’s office, this was cost-prohibitively expensive.
This meant that hiring an answering service was a local buy. And the only effective competition—if any—was another local provider. My things have changed.
Then came along call forwarding, local DID numbers, toll-free numbers, and toll-free DID numbers. These provided the potential for every answering service across the country to compete with every other answering service. Even so, the marketing focus of most answering services remained on their local city.
A subsequent advancement came with VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), which completely opened the market. This made every answering service with this technology a competitor to every other service in the country.
Marketing that Worked Then
Some of the common marketing efforts when the focus was on the local community included yellow page ads, local print advertising, direct mail, direct sales (cold calling, lead follow-up, or both), networking, word-of-mouth, and referrals.
Of course, individual results varied, but most answering services found success in one or more of these strategies. These techniques worked then when the focus was on the local market, but they don’t work so well now, especially when pursuing a broad geographic area.
Marketing that Works Now
When casting a net over a wider geographic region, the common go-to solution is online advertising. The ability to target ads to specific areas and prospects is an attractive option, especially when contrasted to yesterday’s broadcast marketing solutions.
Running effective online marketing campaigns is a skill people best learn through doing. Expect to make some mistakes and lose money in the initial stages, but with practice and intention you can run successful online advertising campaigns.
The goal of marketing is to find prospects, that is, leads. The goal of sales is to close these leads. For an answering service to grow, it must excel in both aspects of the sales and marketing equation. Just as you track online marketing effectiveness by the number of clicks, you track sales effectiveness by the number of closed deals.
Generating leads is just the first step. Closing leads is essential to have an effective sales and marketing campaign.
In the next issue will look at online ad targeting strategies.