Evaluation – Direct

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Evaluation

When a customer is in the evaluation stage, they are comparing you against the competition to decide if you are the right fit for them. This is the time that they will reach out to you for more information about your product or service. Answering customer questions in a timely manner at this stage is absolutely necessary. However, it is important to remember that convincing a potential customer to choose you also involves building trust. You must go beyond addressing the questions asked of you and take advantage of the opportunity to show them your value. 

No matter which method of persuasion you use during the evaluation stage, it should be your priority to provide value in every interaction. You aren’t just pitching the value you can give to the customers; you are providing value every step of the way. When certain markets are filled with many options to choose from, potential customers look to the level of care you offer as a deciding factor. For this reason, prioritizing time to have phone or video calls with potential customers in the evaluation stage has many advantages compared to other methods. 

Advantages of Calls

Person-to-Person Communication

In a world where AI assistants are becoming more prevalent and email is a more accepted form of personal communication, actually making the time for calls is something that can set you apart from your competitors. Hearing someone’s voice or having a video call with them humanizes your business. It offers the opportunity for people to connect on an emotional level and is the best chance for you to build relationships with potential customers. Other companies may have similar products or services, but if you prioritize meaningful connections with your customers, then your connection will outweigh the advantages other competitors may have. 

Building Trust

There are certainly other means for you to build trust between your business and your potential customers, but the right phone call can accelerate the trust building process. Building trust with potential customers builds on the advantages of person-to-person communication but goes one step further in that you can build a rapport and connect more quickly than with other evaluation methods.

Immediate Clarification

Calls are live communication opportunities. As such, they also become more effective ways of communicating. With emails or other remote methods of outreach, you have to go through the process of creating a response, sending it, hoping you were clear, waiting for a response, and possibly needing more clarification. On phone or video calls, you can immediately receive the feedback you need to ensure you understand your customers needs and your answers have satisfied their concerns. 

Best Practices for a Successful Call

We should clarify that just returning a phone call does not mean that effort will guarantee a person becomes your customer. Remember, the point of calls during the evaluation stage is not to simply provide the specifications of your product or service. While that may be a part of the call, your job is to convince that you care about them personally and about their needs as a potential customer.  Consider these calls as your opportunity to get to know them and to figure out how your product or service can best benefit their lives and situations. Here are some of the best practices we recommend to help your calls be a success. 

Schedule your call

As miniscule as this practice may seem, scheduling your return call can actually be a major advantage for you. No potential customer wants to be caught in a consistent game of phone tag, nor do you. At this stage, you probably won’t know your customer’s availability and schedule and they won’t know yours. Scheduling a time to speak with a potential customer communicates that you value their time and yours as you look to find a time that works for the both of you. If you quickly respond to their initial call by scheduling a time to talk, it could also give you the additional advantage of being better prepared for their inquiries. 

Be Prepared

Especially during the evaluation phase, the last thing you want to do is to make it seem like you didn’t take the time to listen to the potential customer’s message. Preparing some talking points based on their message and conducting a bit of research to gather as much pertinent information as possible communicates that they are listened to and valued even before they become customers. 

Keep the Conversation Balanced

A common mistake new businesses make with customers in this phase is that they try to get all the information out at one time. On the flip side, you could be on a call with a customer who is particularly chatty and consistently diverts from the focus of the conversation. In either case it is your job to control the conversation. Make sure you are truly listening to their responses and questions and offering input based on the information they provide. In the event of a more chatty person, guide your responses back to the pertinent topics so that you can still have a productive conversation but also ensure they feel valued and heard. 

Ask Follow Up Questions 

You want to ensure your potential client knows you are listening and engaging with what they are telling you. One of the best ways to communicate your focus on them is to ask follow up questions. Especially in the case where they are telling you about their needs as a customer or pertinent life information that could lead to communicating your value, you want to ensure you are taking the opportunity to fully understand their situation and needs. 

Clarify Answers 

Even though calls allow for less miscommunication than emails or other messages, it is still possible that your potential customer may not know how to communicate exactly what they need or what their questions are. In these cases, you want to be sure you are very clear about what they are saying. Restating their words by using phrases such as “Just to be sure we are on the same page…” or “To recap…” provides you the opportunity to verbalize your understanding and for them to respond with affirmation or further clarification. 

Create Meaningful Connections

You can help build a rapport and trust with potential customers by investing in the information they offer you about their personal lives. Finding a common interest, asking about family or work, asking more questions about a comment they made communicates that you care for them as a person in addition to what value your product or service can add to their life. We cannot emphasize enough how the personal touch and interest could be the difference between you and the other competition. 

Solve Problems 

Even in the event that your product or service cannot meet the potential customers’ needs, try to avoid stopping the conversation there. Instead, find out what it is they are ultimately trying to achieve. If you can offer advice, recommend someone else, or point them to someone who can help, you can still provide solutions for the person and establish your value. The act of helping despite no monetary gain for you speaks volumes to potential customers. They will remember that interaction and can then become a source of referrals for your business or return when they can use your product or service. 

Don’t Shy Away from the Money Conversation

If your prices are not displayed on your site or you have a sliding scale model that requires more customer information, customers in the evaluation stage will most likely be calling for more information on the price. If you offer a service or have flexibility in your pricing, talking about money can be an awkward topic. You don’t want to drive them away with your pricing, but you don’t want to undervalue yourself either. If the potential customer has a hard budget, it may be best to talk pricing right away. However, if they are simply looking for quotes, simply circle back to pricing when you have taken some time to understand their needs better. Within the extended conversation you will have the opportunity to build rapport and establish your value. If you can do this with the customer, then there is a good chance they will want to become a customer for you and money won’t be an issue. 

Send a Recap Email

Unless you are having a video call with a potential customer, the one downside to calls is that they usually aren’t recorded. However, it is absolutely important to reestablish what was said in the conversation to make sure all communication was clear. Use the recap email as an opportunity to have a paper trail of your conversation and to thank them for their time on the phone with you. Be sure to indicate you are available to help if they have any other questions after your call as well. 

Integrating Your Calls Into Your Schedule

Depending on the size of your startup team, you may want to create an established process for how and when you return calls to customers. Since it is in your best interest not to keep potential customers waiting, it may be beneficial to establish a certain point or two in the day for you or another team member to return calls or schedule follow up calls. The more you can keep a relatively devoted time to calls, the more you can ensure that you aren’t letting potential customers slip away. 

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Chapter 1: Getting started

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Chapter 2: Coronavirus Cyberattack Statistics

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Chapter 3: General Cybersecurity Statistics

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Chapter 4: Phishing & Email Attack Statistics

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Chapter 5: Industry Cybersecurity Statistics

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Chapter 6: Privacy Statistics

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Chapter 7: Privacy Statistics

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Chapter 8: Privacy Statistics

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