28 Apr 2023
The Call Answering Service Playbook
Question: What happens after you send out a ton of mailers?
Answer: Phone calls start to pour in.
After all, the whole point of outbound marketing is to generate inbound leads, right?
But those leads aren’t created equally. To put it bluntly, a lot of the calls you’ll get will be a waste of your time.
Whether you’re sending a ranged offer or offering to sell land, some leads will just be hotter than others and it’s critical that you have a way to separate the hot from the cold; the truly interested from merely curious – without logging endless hours on the phone in the process.
Call answering services help you systematize the process, keeping you off the phone until a lead has been qualified as serious.
What are call answering services?
Phone calls are a necessary evil in the land investing world and at some point you’ll likely have to talk to the buyer or seller. But it shouldn’t be right away.
If you send 10,000 mailers and 10% end up in calls, you’re looking at 1,000 calls that will grind your business to a standstill.
That’s where call answering services come in and they do exactly what you think; answer all calls that come in.
Think of it as your business’s 24/7 receptionist.
Not an answering machine but a real, live person that speaks with every single lead. They use a clear script that you’ve provided to do the tedious work of separating the serious leads from the unserious ones.
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with a customizable script template at the bottom that ensures whoever answers your calls is asking the right questions and quickly doing the proper diligence.
Which call answering service to use?
While there’s a world of options out there, PATLive is a call answer service that consistently ranks among the best. Honestly, you could use any top-rated service like AnswerFirst, Smith.ai or CallPorter but we’re fans of PATLive.
Here’s a quick look at the pricing of various services, but keep in mind, price isn’t the only thing to consider when making your decision:
|Subscription price||Cost per call|
|PATLive||$59 to $1279/month||Per minute: $2.25 to $1.05|
|Call Porter||$49 to $1249/month||Per minute: $4.50 to $2|
|Smith.ai||$240 to $900/month||Number of calls: 30 to 150 calls|
|AnswerFirst||$30/month||Per minute: $1.55 to $1.10|
|Lexreception||$350 to $595||Minutes included: 150 to 500 minutes|
As mentioned, call answering services use actual people to answer calls no matter what time they come in (even on holidays), from coast to coast.
Most companies have all of their receptionists based in the United States so you won’t have to fret about language barriers or creating bad impressions in the minds of your potential buyers/sellers.
And you can rest assured that no stone is being left unturned because a summary of each and every call they receive and the messages they take are sent to you. Critically, there are ways to integrate call answering with your workflow so you’re not manually entering info into Pebble.
It’s more than just making sure calls don’t go to voicemail though, in addition to the receptionist service, this is what you’ll also get from PATLive, for example:
- Call transfers
- Message taking
- Appointment scheduling
- Lead collection
- Order processing
- Event registrations
Why do I need a call answering service?
Those tools are all well and good, but practically speaking, how does an answering service, instead of something like automated voicemail, benefit you and warrant the cost?
Well for starters, on a human level, people just want to talk to people. There’s comfort and connection in it.
How many times have you immediately turned sour on a business when you call and realize you’re listening to a recorded answer? Or, worse, “press 1 for this, press 2 for that, press 3…” and you’re just there, blood boiling on the other end, slamming the 0 in hopes that maybe that connects you to a person…
If you’re looking to close deals – and who isn’t? – you don’t want to give callers a reason to turn cold.
Call answering is more than just the touchy-feely stuff though, a dedicated service all gives you the following:
- Professional appearance
- Better & more organized information from leads
- Freedom to work on other parts of your business
- Ability to close more deals
- Stay open 24/7/365
- Streamline workflow with integrations
There’s a certain gravitas and legitimacy that comes with having an actual person answering the phone. Your business may just be you but having someone answer the phone not only gives the impression that you have a larger organization but one that’s extremely professional.
You know what that creates?
Trust and dependability.
Better & more organized information from leads
Relying on voicemail to collect everything you need to qualify a lead is a recipe for headaches. Not only do you have to sift through countless emails, including clearly useless ones, to pull the needles from the haystack.
With a call service, you design your script to efficiently pull the vital data you need to assess a lead’s potential. More importantly, that information is already organized for you in the summary documents you receive and it can be made even easier with CRM integrations that put hot leads right into your existing workflow.
Freedom to work on other parts of your business
Who doesn’t love more time?
With time on the phone cut to dang near zero, you can focus your energies on building your business. Whether that’s research, hiring or working the qualified leads that have made their way to your desk, you’ll have far more time to do it when you’re not concerned with fielding endless calls.
Get off the phone and into your business.
Ability to close more deals
If the main batch of folks you talk to are the ones that are the readiest to make a deal, there’s a good chance your close rate is going to improve. A well-written script that can cleanly batch your most willing potential partners means you’re only getting on the phone when it counts.
You can skip a lot of the “feeling out” stage and get to brass tacks more quickly. When you incorporate a call answering service into a drip campaign, for example, you’ll find yourself getting a steady drip of leads that are ready to act. On top of that, since your script should be asking for basic contact information, you’ll be able to grow your email list for sourcing future deals.
Stay open 24/7/365
Why be closed if you don’t have to? With call answering services, the phone lines are open all day and all night.
A buyer in Oregon gives you a ring at 4 pm local time, he’s interested in your property in Virginia…but that’s 7 pm for you and you’ve already been closed for 2 hours.
Who knows if that one missed call was the one?
A deal is really the confluence of timing, pricing and willingness. You have a lot of say in the pricing and willingness to commit, timing is tougher. A call answering service makes any time ok.
Streamline workflow with integrations
The last thing we want is to win back our time from the phone only to spend it inputting data.
PATLive, and services like it, can integrate with various CRMs so your process doesn’t have to change. They even point out that “if it’s web-based and doesn’t require special training, we can incorporate it into your calls.”
If you don’t want to connect your CRM, you can always create a dedicated form that a receptionist will fill in for every call and use Zapier to send and integrate that date wherever you’d like.
They can also schedule follow-up calls for you and put them on your calendar.
How to use PATLive with Pebble
We’ll use PATLive as an example here but the process will largely be the same across all services.
Setting up the PATLive side of things is as simple as signing up, configuring how their agents collect information to deliver to you and then inputting your script.
You can customize just about everything, from call forwarding to the language they’ll answer in (English and/or Spanish) to when PATLive will be answering for you. It’s truly an intuitive and flexible process that aligns with how you want to work.
That said, we want to dig into how the information and leads that PATLive collects are integrated with Pebble because manually entering the data of hundreds of leads into the system would be a nightmare.
As mentioned above, PATLive agents can fill in forms that you’ve created – a genuine game changer – rather than solely sending you an email record of that call.
Why is that a game changer?
Because in Pebble you can create a readily accessible public form that corresponds to your call script so while the receptionist goes through it, they can directly input the lead’s info.
Putting your form together in Pebble is a breeze.
From the settings page, you go to the automations pages, choose the lead form
Settings page > automations page > lead forms page > pick a lead form and fill it out to mirror your script and then click “public form” option to generate your link for PATLive.
- Keep it simple
- Short and sweet messages
- Give your call answering service of choice link to your form so they can input data straight into Pebble
- Remember, the goal is to qualify the buyer/seller and get them off the phone quickly
Customizable call answer script template
The last piece of the puzzle is determining what the agents will actually say once those calls start coming in. Which questions they’ll ask to separate the serious from the unserious leads in a couple of minutes per call or less.
A quick thank you to Travis King of Land Investing Mastery who kindly let us include one of his scripts here.
Introduction to new caller:
- Hi, this is___________ with (your company name), may I ask who I am speaking to please? (First & Last Name)
- What is your phone number in case we get disconnected?
- Do you have an email address?
- May I have the reference number/mailing code found on your letter or postcard?
Please give a brief introduction to our company:
“Before we begin, let me tell you a little about our company and the process. We are a land investment company in your City Name, City State. What I need to do is ask you a few simple questions about the property, it will only take a few minutes. After that I input the information into our system and it goes to our acquisitions team. If you are ready, let’s get started….”
Questions to ask:
- Did your mailpiece include an offer price?
I. If the answer is Yes move to Question B
II. If No move to Question D
- Are you accepting our offer?
I. If the answer is Yes, close the call with ‘Ending The Call (Accepted Offer)’ script
II. If the answer is No then proceed to Question C
- May I ask why you are not accepting the offer?
- Thanks for giving us a call, our acquisitions team will now put together a customized offer for you, but just so we know we are in the ballpark with our offer, how much were you needing to get out of it?
Ending the call
“That’s great, thank you for calling us today, a member of our acquisitions team will be in touch within 3 business days to discuss your property. Thank you again for reaching out and have a great day! Bye-bye.”
Is a call answering service right for you?
Spending hours on the phone probably isn’t why you got into land investing. Call answering services like PATLive, Call Porter, AnswerFirst and the like free you from the shackles of the phone so you can stay focused on the parts of your business that need you most.
You don’t personally have to answer every call but they should all be answered and having a professional service do it for you makes a big difference to potential leads.
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