This is part one in a two-part series. You can read part two here.

It’s vital that every part of your small- to medium-sized business is able to do double duty in order to keep your budget purring like a well-oiled machine.

Your answering service, for example, can help increase your sales in ways that are both obvious and more subtle. The connections between answering services and your sales are twofold: an answering service can help customers better connect to you in the long run and they can also give your callers a way to get immediate service.

Here are just a few examples of their short-term skills and results:

  • Decreasing call hang-ups. According to research firm Telecompaper, 69 percent of callers will hang up when they reach a voicemail system rather than leave a message. Depending on your call volume, that might mean your answering service is saving thousands of dollars of sales from going to your competition each and every day simply because your callers want to talk to a live person instead of a machine.
  • Speeding call returns. Even if your customers do leave messages on your voicemail or your answering machine, it can be time consuming to pull them off each morning.Without adequate messages, you often don’t know which callers are interested in purchasing a product and which are simply looking to ask a question about your company’s policies. Even a basic answering service offering basic message taking demands specific information from each caller so you can prioritize your return calls and provides you with a call log that speeds up your callbacks each morning.
  • Inbound sales. An answering service isn’t just for answering the phone—your service can also provide live telephone sales for your company, too. Whether you run a retail catalog or have some callers who need help completing their eCommerce orders, a well-trained inbound sales team can be invaluable to your operation. Answering service companies can provide inbound sales teams that integrate seamlessly with your other services, including call answering and virtual receptionists.
  • Suggestive sales. Even customers who call for service sometimes need products they don’t really realize they need. Having a team that’s well-versed in the subtle art of suggestive sales can really increase your sales numbers when it’s done well. Instead of having your receptionist try to suggestive sell an item while she’s helping a customer, a team of in-bound customer service experts will carefully consider the reason for the customer’s call and your product offerings to try to find an item that can help to solve problems the customer is having.

For example, it would make sense for a caller to a computer store to be suggestively sold some additional RAM if he were complaining that his computer is loading slowly when he’s calling for assistance with a printer problem. Not only did your customer service team help your customer with the printer, they also solved his sluggish computer issue. Well-placed upselling is helpful, but customers will absolutely recoil at awkward attempts to push products they don’t want or need.

Answering services can do a lot more than pick up the phone and say “Hello!” They can make a huge difference to your bottom line by increasing your sales numbers both directly and indirectly. In part two of this two-part series, we’ll explore even more connections between answering services and your sales.