If your small business is using (or considering) a cloud-based customer relationship management system like Salesforce, these two tips.

1. Phone leads are considered the most important leads, so don’t rely on voicemail.

The majority of small business owners and their partners and employees still rely on their cell phones to run their businesses. While this may be convenient for small business owners, it can also be detrimental when it comes to potential customers. In fact, studies show that 80% or more of callers who are sent to voicemail hang up and move on to the next small business in their online search results. This is a colossal disaster for these businesses, as phone leads are 10-12x more likely to be converted to customers as web leads.

2. Responding to leads within the first hour may be the difference between getting the business or giving it to your competitor.

Answering your business phone often consumes a lot of time, and time is at a premium among small business owners. Particularly with new customers, you still have to take the time to enter the lead into Salesforce so that you can effectively respond to inquiries in a timely manner. The last insidesales.com lead management study found that if a company can respond to a new lead in the first 10 minutes, the odds of converting it to an opportunity are 20 times higher—but those odds decrease 10 times in the first hour after the call.

Salesforce’s AppExchange is rapidly becoming the leading B2B app store, with many companies deploying apps built on the Salesforce platform that can be leveraged by Salesforce users. My company, US Answer, a small business virtual receptionist/answering service company powered by Salesforce, can capture your incoming phone leads (so that they don’t go to voicemail) before transfering the caller to you, or take a message if you're unavailable.

This solves all three issues: You don’t lose new business opportunities to voicemail, you get your messages immediately via text/email, if you are not available, so you can respond as quickly as possible and you don’t have to take the time to enter the lead into Salesforce. That is done automatically and all that is needed is your Salesforce organization ID.

This is exactly the type of app that Salesforce envisioned when it set out to be a developer platform.

6a01a511393c68970c01a51198c653970c-120siOnce lead engineer on the cleanup of the nation's worst hazardous waste sites, Jim entered the digital world in 1999, founding Vacationharbor.com (think Airbnb 1.0). Jim is presently co-founder and CEO of US Answer, a cloud-based answering service and mobile app built on the Salesforce1 platform. Contact him at jim@usanswer.com



Click here to learn more about the Salesforce1 platform, or watch a demo below.