Generating new business and establishing meaningful connections with client families is a key component to any successful funeral home business plan, and growth in preneed services is essential to help ensure the sustainability of your business. Setting up preneed appointments over the phone is one of the best ways to build brand awareness within your community, increase your preneed sales and help secure your at-need market share.
Most likely, you’re used to fielding a variety of incoming calls, but do you know how to effectively conduct outgoing calls for your business? Let’s face it – for most people, the mere notion of placing unprompted phone calls to potential client families is right up there with having a root canal done, but it doesn’t have to be that way! Read on for our best practices in effectively and successfully securing preneed appointments over the phone.
Be prepared before picking up the phone
Do your homework and gather as much background information about your client families before you even dial their number. It’s also incredibly important to be well-versed in the details of your preneed services so that you can answer any of their questions and communicate the value of advance funeral planning effectively. When you’re not confident in the information you’re conveying, people often pick up on it and may doubt your expertise in the services you provide. If you are relatively new to setting up preneed appointments, write out a list of potential questions and answers to reference should you need it. Write a loose script and practice it with a colleague to ensure that you sound poised and professional.
Homesteaders Training and Development Specialist Brianne Niedermyer says, “My main suggestions are to have everything you might need at your fingertips and be fully engaged in each call. Those two things will help with anything the family throws your way.”
Be confident and stay positive
Smile as you greet each person! While they may not be able to physically see you smiling, they will hear the upbeat tone and pitch of your voice, and when you project positivity, people can tell. To remind yourself to smile, stick a post-it note reminder on your desk or place a small mirror next to your work area so that you can see your facial expressions as you place calls.
“Always remember what you do and the service you are providing to your families. You are helping them prepare for one of the worst days of their life. You will help that day be a little more manageable,” added Niedermyer.
Be confident in the services you’re providing and remember that almost 100% of people are satisfied with their decision of advance funeral planning. That being said, you should also prepare yourself to be rejected, told ‘no’ or possibly even yelled at. That’s simply the unfortunate downfall of placing sales calls in any industry. Remind yourself that their rejection isn’t personal so there is no need to dwell on it too much. To offset the negative feelings of denial and burnout, make sure you always start your phone calls in a good mood and remain confident in the value of the services you provide.
Know that it’s OK to take breaks
If you just got rejected for the fifth call in a row or someone hung up on you mid-sentence, take a short break to reset your mind. Try to remember why you do what you do and that you are trying to help people. Remember why you’re in this industry in the first place. Keep in mind that for some people, the thought of planning their own funeral can be intimidating and uncomfortable.
“If you have had a terrible appointment or someone yelled at you for no reason, you need to take a break. You will not be in the right head space to help a family after that. Call someone who you know will make you happy or laugh, go grab some coffee, take a 5—10 minute walk, etc.,” says Niedermyer.
dedicate TIME IN YOUR SCHEDULE and stick to it
Creating a calendar event or reminder is one of the best ways to ensure that you stick to your preneed appointment setting goals and manage your time effectively. Obviously, you can afford some flexibility with this, should something come up that you cannot avoid, but as a general rule you should treat your preneed appointment setting time carved out in your calendar as important as any other meeting in your day. You will find that families answer calls at varying times and days. Make sure that you’re not calling at the same time and day each week, and take notes to determine the time of day, day of week, etc. that people are most responsive to ensure you are using your time efficiently. Place calls in a quiet, comfortable space to avoid distractions or background noise. Ensure that your staff members know that you should not be interrupted while you are placing preneed appointment setting calls.
If you find yourself in a position where you would like to begin (or continue) reaching out to client families to set up preneed appointments but can’t seem to find the time, consider utilizing appointment setting assistance through Homesteaders Solutions. The services provided by Homesteaders Solutions range from lead generation and text-based aftercare to appointment setting and remote preneed sales, all centered around EnGauge, our robust customer relationship management system (CRM). We feature a robust call center that works closely with your preneed staff to provide valuable services according to your individual business needs and acts as an extension of your business, allowing you to focus on what you do best as an exceptional funeral professional.
Contact your Account Executive to learn more about how your business can benefit from the services provided by Homesteaders Solutions.