Most tech startups don’t have a phone number for visitors to call for support or sales. But if you offer any sort of solution that might normally – offline – require a salesperson to close the sale, such as an enterprise-level offering that costs more than $100 per month, you should strongly consider hiring a sales agent – or making yourself available – to take calls.
Here’s the point: If you have a phone number for customers to call, place it prominently.
And here’s why: An easy-to-find phone number can boost conversion because people feel comforted that, if they need you, they can call.
It’s not that they will call. It’s that they can call.
The presence of a phone number is the presence of assurance. It’s a cue to trust you.
Trust Is Important to Converting People
When your visitors trust you, they can stop being suspicious… and start letting your message flow in.
- Always imagine a wall between you and your customers. Converting is largely about breaking down the pieces of that wall most consumers have built up. As soon as your visitors begin to trust you, great big sections of that wall start to come down – which brings you closer to them, and them closer to you. That’s HUGE for sales.
- Trust helps your visitors feel good. And feeling good – as any conversion consultant will tell you – is a very powerful thing. People are at their most flexible – and most open to being persuaded by you – when they feel good. More so when they feel good about you.
This is very similar to a persuasion strategy that most startups are already using: offer money-back guarantees. Like money-back guarantees, phone numbers are there not to drive people to take advantage of them but to give people the assurance they need that they’re not stuck, over-committed or alone.
When you prominently display your phone number, this is the big bonus: If your visitors do call, you are more likely to close a sale with them. Why? Because they’ve just taught you something critical about your ideal market: at least a portion of potential customers must talk to someone before buying. They need to talk.
People who call in are the sorts of shoppers who need to speak with someone first. They require human interaction.
People who need 1-to-1 interactions to purchase have a harder time buying on a website that lacks live chat or phone. Put live chat or phone in an easy-to-find space, and you’re that much closer to converting more of those chatty visitors. The shoppers who don’t need phone or chat simply won’t use them. Done.
Common Concern: Showing a Phone Number Will Drive Calls
Making a phone number easy to find does not increase your visitor’s desire to switch channels – that is, to switch from shopping online to shopping over the phone.
The only thing it does is help those visitors who already want to call and talk to someone actually do what they want to do: call and talk to someone.
Hence, the prominent placement of your phone number is not a call-driver.
Rather, it’s the smart thing to do to close more sales.
(Anyone who’s ever worked in a business that has a call center knows the skilled sales people who work the phones have insanely high conversion rates that simply can’t be matched on a website. Let your site be the lead generator… and let real live people close the sale.)
Here are a few examples of startup sites that get this persuasion strategy right:
Why Put Your Number in the Header?
Placing important anxiety-reducers – like phone numbers, but also like money-back guarantees and free shipping messages – in the header ensures that these messages are shown to all visitors across all pages.
TIP: If you want to see your conversion increase quickly, test the addition of prominent anxiety-reducers in your header. With 1 exception, I’ve seen this sort of header test result in a lift of 8 to 10%. That’s not an enormous increase, but in combo with other optimization activities and when compounded over time and tests, it can mean big money.
What Happens If You Make Your Number Hard to Find?
Those who want to find your phone number won’t enjoy having to search your website to get it. This unnecessary foraging activity can lead to frustration.
People who want to call you are eventually going to find your number and call (or they’ll bail on you entirely). So don’t put potential or existing customers in a bad mood by hiding your number. Any dollars you save in the call center will be bigger dollars you’ve lost acquiring or retaining customers.
Don’t think you’re preventing expensive phone calls by hiding your number.
In fact, when you hide your number, all you’re doing is making it more difficult for the sales agent to close the sale when, at last, that customer finds the number and calls in.
If You Only Offer Support – Not Sales – by Phone…
Support leaders Zendesk (August 2011) claim that phone is still the most preferred and efficient method of support for customers. If you offer a support number, consider showing that, too – with the clear message around it that that number is for support calls only.
Letting people know someone will be there to guide them at any point is a credibility-booster and an anxiety-reducer.