A telephone is an essential tool for businesses in outbound sales, as well as for customer service call centers. Caller ID is prevalent on most telephones, some even with audio announcements of the caller’s name or number. In years past, companies would generally have a number with an area code reflecting the company’s physical location or choose to have a toll-free number such as an 800 number. With today’s technologies, companies can choose to have a number displayed on the caller ID with the area code reflecting the location being dialed, the same area code as the recipient, often integrated into a sales acceleration software. This is often referred to as local presence and has gained wide popularity with sales organizations.
Local presence as a sales acceleration tool
Organizations can effectively implement local presence dialing in sales acceleration platforms through applications that generally use VoIP technology integrated with a sales dialing system. The system recognizes the location being dialed and automatically generates a number with the same or nearby area code in the destination caller ID from a block of VoIP numbers. It is an automated sales process – the representative does not have to input the number.
Software Advice, a technology research company, conducted an independent online survey of over 2,000 Internet users in 2014 to measure their reactions to answering an incoming call if they did not recognize the number on the caller ID. The survey used the three categories of toll-free area codes, out-of-state area codes, and local area codes and showed the following results.
• Somewhat or extremely likely to answer a call from an unknown caller:
- Toll-free area code – 7 percent
- Out of state area code – 13 percent
- Local area code – 27.5 percent
• Extremely unlikely to answer a call from an unknown caller:
- Toll-free area code – 80 percent
- Out of state area code – 75 percent
- Local area code – 53 percent
These results indicate people are almost twice as likely to answer an unknown caller with an out-of-state area code over a toll-free area code and about four times more likely to answer an unknown caller with a local area code over a toll-free number. It should be noted that an unknown toll-free area code would almost always represent a business, survey, or the like, whereas an out-of-state area code is not necessarily so and could be a private individual. The survey showed that local presence dialing dramatically increases the likelihood of an unknown call number being answered.
The call is the first step in a process by which the sales representative hopes to engage the prospect, ultimately resulting in a sale or similar conversion. The practice has become widespread enough that most call recipients understand it and why it is being used. There are critics of local presence dialing who argue that it creates an impression of the caller as being less transparent and forthright, which undermines the sense of trust; this may create some negativity that the caller must overcome by the persuasiveness of the presentation or offer.
The technique may provoke a negative response in some, which may immediately destroy any chance of completing the conversion. However, it is clear that a call must be answered or returned in order for any engagement with the prospect to begin. Local presence is clearly a very effective sales acceleration tool that dramatically increases the number of calls answered and converts more leads into sales opportunities.