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Ditching the telephone

Cold callers

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Okay, maybe not a totally serious suggestion, although I am considering removing my number from the website/internet etc

I am getting around 20 sales calls a day and finding it very fustrating, it's wasting a lot of my time. When it isnt sales calls it people looking for jobs, which I do have sympathy with but if I had as many clients as job requests I'd never have to work again.

Very rarely do my clients call me, most new leads are submissions through the website or emailed. I'm temped to let the calls go to voicemail and if they want to leave a message they can, but I don't want to lose clients.

While spam emails are annoying, least it isnt so time consuming.

What do other sole practitioners do?

Replies (24)

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By JimLittle
02nd Aug 2019 16:05

I just ignore all landline numbers and only pick up calls from mobile numbers. With me calls from mobile numbers are likely to be new clients and not time wasters.

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Replying to JimLittle:
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By SouthCoastAcc
02nd Aug 2019 16:08

I thought the same but got caught off guard as some companies have started using mobile numbers!

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By paul.benny
02nd Aug 2019 16:05

A technique I've seen used in a different context is to have a public number that goes to voicemail and a more private number made available to people you might actually want to speak to.

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Replying to paul.benny:
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By SouthCoastAcc
02nd Aug 2019 16:41

Really like that idea, could trial it.

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By johnhemming
02nd Aug 2019 16:16

I have a system which uses a voice recognition system to take details of a name. It picks up the phone number from the caller line identification (or people have to type it in using the keypad).

It reduces phone calls. On my mobile the message says that if people don't leave a message or a text I will block the number (because a lot of the mobile calls are also spam).

I am not exactly a sole practitioner because I have a few staff, but we avoid using the phone for anything other than scheduled calls.

If you want to find out how the phone answering system works phone 0121 314 3303

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Replying to johnhemming:
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By Richard Grant
03rd Aug 2019 09:12

I have a friend who uses a similar system, the problem is it sounds as though he's on a witness protection programme. It can be very offputting to someone with a general enquiry.

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By Justin Bryant
02nd Aug 2019 16:23

Can't you just register with the telephone preference service?

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Replying to Justin Bryant:
By Charlie Carne
09th Aug 2019 13:54

That does very little these days. It prevents legit UK-based companies calling, but there are plenty overseas (who cannot be prosecuted by the TPS) who spoof a UK number when they call.

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By Maslins
02nd Aug 2019 16:28

We perhaps get 1 or 2 sales calls a week, no more than that. Have you signed up with the TPS (there is a business version, might have a slightly different name)?

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Replying to Maslins:
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By johnhemming
02nd Aug 2019 16:48

There are difficulties with stopping international calls. It is really easy to make an international call with a UK phone number or to spoof a phone number more generally.

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By WhiteRose
02nd Aug 2019 19:01

Let everything go to voicemail. Have a set time when you reply to your messages, maybe twice a day. Tell folks (in your voicemail message) that this is what you will be doing. Massive timesaver.

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By Ken Howard
02nd Aug 2019 19:26

I never answer the office phone - I always let it go to the answerphone.

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RedFive
By RedFive
02nd Aug 2019 21:26

Short delay then call goes to voicemail.

I ignore if I don’t know the number.

If it’s an enquiry then if they are serious they leave a message. If not I’m not bothered.

I google the number and block as necessary. Must have over 100 numbers blocked on my iPhone.

Mobile numbers as bad as landlines but yes landlines are rarely anything other than spam.

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By leeanthonyblackshaw
03rd Aug 2019 10:23

I’ve found a Panasonic call blocker telephone works best. Callers need to leave a message to get through, unless one of your unblocked numbers.

Although I miss winding up nuisance callers, in my challenge for them to hang up on me: “a computer, what is a computer? A laptop? What, above my knees and below my hips, you mean? A Windows problem? But I can see my garden through my windows, etc”

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By jon_griffey
03rd Aug 2019 12:06

It's hard enough getting prospective clients to reach out in the first place - if there is no phone number, nobody picks up, or you get some automated response then they may very easily be put off and call the next firm. Don't forget that as a profession we are in a charmed place - it's called recurring fees. That one phone call can result in tens of thousands of pounds in fees over the life of the client, so cold calling is something you have to put up with. The key is to be very firm and end the call quickly rather than waste time engaging with them.

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Replying to jon_griffey:
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By johnhemming
03rd Aug 2019 17:46

My automated system get all the phone numbers even if it gives the engaged tone. Hence everyone can be phoned back.

I also have a Samsung mobile which has useful access to an international database of phone numbers which often give the name of the person calling and whether or not they are known spammers.

My main concern is to avoid the interruption of a phone call. If I am in the middle of something reasonably complicated (such as debugging a computer program) the interruption can be really disruptive.

I have set up the automated system so that if needs be I can listen to it whilst it handles the calls, but I prefer to be able to concentrate on the task in hand.

There is a role for real time communication and I understand that people quite like it as a mechanism of ensuring they know something is happening. However, it is very inefficient.

The real challenge, of course, is managing multiple channels of communication. When I did a lot of casework I used to drive everything through email. Hence when letters came in or phone calls came in they were emailed to me. The danger is that you end up talking to the same people via email, sms, whatsapp and facebook or even twitter and keeping track of all of that is quite a task.

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Replying to jon_griffey:
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By indomitable
09th Aug 2019 11:13

I agree with Jon. You have to put up with this, nature of any business. You should be answering every call otherwise they are going to go elsewhere. People have a very short attention span.

Put yourself in the prospects shoes and what would you do if you were them.

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By Rt66
09th Aug 2019 10:29

I've been self employed for 20 years and have noticed the same. I have now taken my landline off advertising. I agree most clients come via email or website but an easy access call is, I feel, important. I get significantly less cold calls and spam on my mobile and most clients are happy to have a mobile number to contact me. I also have a Samsung phone as someone else mentioned and it's pretty good at identifying callers

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By lh3f9764bg1g
09th Aug 2019 10:26

I'd suggest signing up to the Telephone Preference Service https://www.tpsonline.org.uk/tps/ . It won't be a complete solution but it will probably help. I'd say we only get one or two nuisance calls a day. The Facsimile Preference Service https://www.fpsonline.org.uk//fps/ is a good idea too.
Chris

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By Lambdenman
09th Aug 2019 10:31

It's simple.
1. Make sure caller display is activated
2. Leave the answerphone on permanently
3. Call identified clients back and call prospects (who are as said are almost
mobiles)
always mobiles)

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By tracey2412
09th Aug 2019 12:53

My advertised landline is permanently forwarded to an answering service. Firm is local to me, I have met the girls, small team but they do handle national companies too so know what they are doing. They answer all calls as if they work for me & take messages. They can patch calls if I ask them - either as a rule or just specific ones. They send me a text & email every time as well as an end of day summary, so I can call back prospects in my own time. If it's a sales call, I tell them it is & if they call again are told in no uncertain (but polite) terms not call again & don't charge me for those after the first time. If its obviously unsolicited (PPI, accident, etc), they don't charge me anyway. Happy to recommend this company if anyone wants to send me a message or calls my landline to check them out! Once I have a client, I usually share my mobile, though when I am having a day off or am on holiday or just not available I also forward to the answer service. I still get messages so don't miss anything. Works for me!

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By paddy55
09th Aug 2019 13:03

I use a) telephone "Do Not Call" and 2) I can normally tell when the person speaks if it is spam or adverting. In these cases, I just hand up immediately without saying a word.

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By chrisowen
09th Aug 2019 15:47

Some ISP's have a call blocking system now.
So, on Plusnet, if I get an unwanted call, I just dial 1572 and the caller is blocked.
It has made a big difference, and is free

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By Mikerichards
12th Aug 2019 14:50

You might try using a PA answering service like
[email protected]

I use them in a different context and they are brilliant - they are very professional and not expensive

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