Direct Mail- How Important is it to Answer Calls Live?

5 Replies

I've been doing direct mail marketing, using a 800 number that gets transferred to my cell phone. I currently work full time, so it is difficult to answer calls live. I do have caller ID so I get these peoples phone numbers even if they don't leave a message.

I've noticed a lot of people call and don't leave a message. Should I call these people back? Or should I assume they aren't that interested if they didn't leave a message. (I've heard people argue both opinions.)

At first I did answer every call. Just about every call was a time waster, or angry person trying to take out their frustrations on me. Especially the people who didn't leave messages. I would LOVE to just return calls of those who leave messages, but that may just be the lazy approach.

Anyway, those who do direct mail, please let me know your opinion on this topic.

I try to answer as many calls as I can, especially the calls that come up blocked. When I can't pick up for the others, I always call them back at either lunch or after work. I would highly recommend that you return every call whether they left a message or not. Just because these people didn't leave a message doesn't mean they are not interested in selling. I actually do the same when calling a company. If I can't get in touch with someone live, I'll just call the next company on the list. The person that answers usually gets my business.

Also, I've never used an 800 number but I've heard that a local number yields a better response rate. People feel like it's not as much a piece of solicitation when they see a zip code/number that is local.

Really depends on how much mail you are sending and how badly you need the deals. I remember Michael Quarles saying that he never calls people back unless they leave a message because he has so much mail going out that he only wants to talk to the people that are extremely motivated and the extremely motivated people generally leave messages.

Personally I call everyone back because its hard to find deals and there are motivated people that dont leave messages.

I second the fact that a local number will do better for you than an 800 number.

Answering the leads live is crucial in my opinion.

If you can't I would still call back and say I missed a call from this number earlier, etc. You are paying to make the phone ring. Take advantage of every lead you can. My 2 cents.

Lauren Hardy

In my humble opinion, I think a better question to ask is - "How do I answer every call, and make sure I'm not wasting time with 'tire-kickers'".

The very first rule you should set for yourself is "Every call get's answered by a live voice". Notice I didn't say your voice. You are experiencing a good problem. It's good that the phone is ringing. Bad because you didn't anticipate the work and time lost sorting out the rif raf.

That said, I agree with the others. The 800 number has no use anymore. Originally it was intended to keep incoming calls from the customer free. In this day and age, I don't know a single person who chooses not to make a call because it's long distance. Especially with voip.

Yours is a problem of qualifying. That takes effort, and expertise. But there are ways you can solve this. First off I would consider hiring a VA to answer the phone. This isn't always the best answer, but there are times when it's appropriate. You want this person to be able to qualify the lead, perhaps they have a script, or an informal survey they give in order to know how to handle the call. What you want to know is that every call that comes to your cell phone is a qualified lead. Using a VA is a smart way of getting that done.

Or you could consider other ways of qualifying leads. Instead of making the call to action a phone call, why not send them to a landing page on your website. Off the top of my head I'm thinking the landing page could be a small questionnaire or a contact me webform that, once submitted, will connect both you and the user by phone.

That one gets a little more complicated, but it is very doable, and not nearly as expensive as you might think.

In summary. Yes every call absolutely needs to be answered. You just need to create a reliable system for qualifying these calls before they ring through.

Originally posted by Barry Hammond:
... The 800 number has no use anymore. Originally it was intended to keep incoming calls from the customer free. In this day and age, I don't know a single person who chooses not to make a call because it's long distance. Especially with voip.


There is one use still that remains - caller ID of blocked incoming numbers.

If it's not being used for that purpose, then the local number is probably a better idea.

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