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Clobber Competitors With 800 Firepower
By Orvel Ray Wilson   Printer Friendly Version

A customer has a question or problem. A reporter wants information about your company for a story. Someone wants an estimate right away. Guerrillas make it easy for them to call.

A potent new high-tech weapon in the guerrilla selling arsenal is the 800 number. People are seven times as likely to phone if the call is toll-free, and you don't have to be a big-budget company to make it pay. New services like AT&T's ReadyLine and Sprint's Phoneline 800 bring the firepower of a toll-free number within reach of even the smallest company.

Measured inbound 800 service is surprisingly inexpensive, but it does pay to shop around. Expect a base charge of around $20 a month, plus 20 cents a minute or less for the calls you receive. Rates may be lower in some states and most are time-of-day and distance-sensitive. Custom calling plans and volume discounts may cut costs even further.

Installation and setup charges are nominal, because separate lines and special equipment are not required. The number can be programmed to ring right into any existing telephone in the US. It can be re-routed just as easily, so as your business grows, your 800 number can move with you.

Unless you can get a vanity number that is a complete acronym, like 1-800-FLOWERS, stay away from clever combinations like 234-1234. People think they will remember them and then forget. Better to have a number that they have to write down.

Print your new 800 number on everything, and use graphics and type to make it stand out. Give people a reason to call ("For a free brochure on cutting costs, call toll-free, 1-800-XXX-XXXX"). Also consider an 800 number for your fax machine. You'll improve service, speed, quality, and convenience by encouraging a written response.

Advanced features can make your 800 service even more practical. Area Code Routing allows incoming calls to be routed based on the area code from which the call was placed. This could be used to route calls directly to a field office or service center, or to specific salespeople at headquarters. Exchange Code Routing allows you to route calls by the local exchange as well, giving you even finer control over your territories. Single Number Service allows multiple 800 lines in multiple locations to be accessed by a single 800 number. This simplifies advertising, reduces customer confusion and enhances your market identity. Courtesy Response automatically provides a pre-recorded message to callers when the office is closed. Better still, couple an 800 line with Voice Messaging and never miss a call again. Using voice-mail, salespeople working on several different accounts can keep in touch with the management team to coordinate plans and activities, to make important decisions, and expedite shipping of samples or literature, all through a single 800 line.

Join the army of guerrillas who are using this new marketing weapon to gain the tactical advantage. Call AT&T at 1-800-222-0400 ext. 1816, for information about ReadyLine, or contact Sprint at 1-800-877-4020 about Phoneline 800.

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