Telephone Sales: Local Numbers Drive 90% More Pickups by SMBs

telephone-chSpeaking with a former local media sales executive on the phone recently I learned an interesting statistic about telephone sales to SMBs. He told me (citing a third party source) that small business owners are 90% more likely to take a call showing a local phone number ID vs. an 800 number.

He was recalling the stat from memory and qualified it accordingly.

I had never thought about local vs. national numbers in the context of inside sales. However it makes sense. It also generally mirrors consumer data about them being more responsive to local phone numbers in ads vs. toll free numbers. Telmetrics’ Bill Dinan previously told me local numbers in ads outperform toll free by 3.5X to 4X.

Increasingly local media companies and SMB-marketing vendors are relying on telephone sales vs. premise/outside sales. This is because inside sales are cheaper and can be more easily controlled. Yellow pages, newspapers and others that have traditionally used outside sales reps are shifting to telephone sales as margins shrink or are pressured by digital media.

There will always be a role for outside sales (i.e., high value accounts). However telephone sales are becoming a larger and larger feature of SMB-centric selling. This also makes differentiation harder as business owners receive dozens of calls from different sources and vendors trying to sell them packages and products that all sound similar.

Any advantage in getting that besieged business owner to pick up the phone and take the call is useful.

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2 Responses to “Telephone Sales: Local Numbers Drive 90% More Pickups by SMBs”

  1. Rich Hargrave says at

    It’s always been about local numbers Greg. Toll free 800 numbers have never effectively communicated a “local” presence, and local business owners have always preferred local exchanges. Going back to the days of RCF’s in print yp, to current meathods of tracking via reverse proxy sites and landing pages – I’ve never seen national outperform local numbers. There’s also the issue of “perception”. 

    From a sales/marketing perspective, this is an interesting concept. If given a choice, I think SMB’s would prefer a firm that appears to be local – and they may respond to those inbound marketing calls at higher rates. But ultimately it’s not a face-to-face interaction, which I believe is the preferred method of connecting (as expensive as it may be).

  2. Greg Sterling says at

    I was interested that the B2B side mirrored the consumer data. Also the question (being forced by lower digital margins and other “structural” pressures) is what will remain of the premise sales force in the future? Will it only exist to service accounts over $XX value?

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