How to Handle New Leads & Potential Clients Outside of Normal Business Hours

Sean Lund-Brown

As a new or growing business, you never want to miss out on the opportunity to gain a new lead or potential client. However, you also have to remember to take time away from work. When you’re at home, with your family, or sleeping to recharge for what’s to come the next day or after the weekend, you don’t want to miss out on the major phone calls, SMS texts, and social media messages that are still coming through. You also can’t work around the clock, so how can you balance work and personal life?

The leads and possible clients that are trying to reach you don’t have any kind of a relationship with you…yet. That poses a bit of a challenge because you haven’t established boundaries or clear expectations out of the partnership yet. Simply ignoring the incoming inquiries will make it appear as though you’re not interested in their business. If you send out a vibe like that, even accidentally, there’s a much higher probability that the person will take their money to someone else.

Depending on the industry you’re in, some customers and leads expect there to be a voice available to answer their questions and take their calls around the clock. For instance, if you’re a freelancer or web worker, there is no storefront with posted business hours. You likely don’t even have set hours listed on your personal page because you set your schedule as you go. Without clarity, you can find yourself picking up the phone and responding to messages all night and weekend long, and after a while, your customers will expect it from you.

Smith.ai live virtual receptionist services

You can avoid the entire dilemma by following some valuable tips and tricks that we’ve collected for handling new leads and potential clients outside of regular business hours. We would also like you to consider the benefits of partnering with our 24-hour, seven days a week virtual receptionist at Smith.ai. The specialist you need to answer your incoming calls, screen potential leads, and return social media messages and SMS texts are who we have waiting to assist you. First, take a look at the helpful information here, and then reach out to us to set up a consultation to learn more about what we provide.

Hire an answering service

It shouldn’t be a huge surprise to see hire an answering service on the top of this list. One, because it’s what we’re passionate about, and two, because it really is effective! An answering service like Smith.ai offers you a plethora of services that can be highly advantageous when trying to handle new leads and potential clients after you leave the office.

You know that you would make the most remarkable strides possible in the shortest amount of time if your business never closed, but you can’t live at the office or next to the phone. With an answering service that picks up after you walk away, it’s basically having your cake and eating it too. Your new leads and potential clients can still set up appointments or gather information about your company, and they’re getting a personalized service by talking to a live person. They won’t have any idea that the person they are talking to isn’t sitting at a desk in your building.

Quality answering services will do your job for you, including each of these responsibilities:

  • Answering calls 24/7, including after hours and overflow
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Call back scheduling
  • Lead qualification
  • Client intake forms
  • Spam and sales call blocking
  • VIP pass-throughs and prioritization
  • SMS text answering and response
  • Facebook message answering and response

You will never have to think about missing a significant sale or blowing a crucial call again when you have someone handling your incoming messages and phones at all hours of the day and night. You’ll save money on hiring someone else to work for your company, avoid wasting time and energy on training, and have more revenue to pump back into your business.


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Utilize voicemail features

As a company that is still building a solid foundation, you may not have the funds to invest in an answering service just yet. You still can’t miss out on those essential calls that could mean the difference between being able to afford the services next month, though. That’s where the traditional voicemail systems come in useful.

Whether you have one phone for both your work and personal calls, or separate ones, there is likely a voicemail feature available. Most all mobile phones offer it, and if you still have a landline, it’s relatively simple to attach one or get an old-school answering machine. Whatever you do, you need to have a message available for your potential leads or clients to receive when they’re trying to reach you after hours.

Lead Screening & Intake icon

When you set up your voicemail system, be sure to make the message clear, short, and incorporate all the necessary information they are likely looking for, including:

  • Your name, business name
  • The hours you’re available to take calls
  • Any alternative ways of contacting you if you have them (email, SMS texting, social media)
  • Instruct them to leave their name and number and give them an expected call back time frame

A customer that calls you at 7:30 am on a Monday that hears you’ll be in the office again at 8:00 am is highly likely to leave their name and number. Then, when you get into work mode, you can organize your messages, connect names and phone numbers, and start calling back your leads and potential new clients right away.

Set boundaries – stick to them!

Have you taken care of the business hours yet? As long as you’ve established that, you have set up boundaries for yourself and your potential customers. Now that it’s well-known that you’re not available at all hours and every day, people will view you as more professional, and they will respect you. It’s common to think that setting up hours as a freelancer or an independent contractor is a negative thing, but it’s going to help you in reality.

One essential factor to remember is that you have to follow your own rules after you set up the boundaries. That means, if you don’t want people calling you after 5:00 pm on a Friday, you can’t call them at 6:00 pm. It shows that you don’t value your guidelines, so why should they?

When you first have a consultation with any potential client or lead, be sure to share with them your policy right off the bat. Then, they won’t get discouraged or angry when you don’t answer your text message from them on a Saturday afternoon. Tell them specifics, including things like emails are guaranteed to be answered within 24 hours or 48 hours on Saturdays and Sundays. Another standard policy is something like voicemails received after 5:00 pm on Fridays will be returned by Monday at noon.

As a freelancer or independent contractor, you get to customize what works for you. One helpful idea that might help reduce stress and streamline some of those messages and calls is setting a strict or specific time each day to organize and return the stack of notes and calls you already have. By clearing out a few, you won’t be so overwhelmed when more start coming in.

Customize a hiring form

Do you have a website, social media page, or another way of potential leads or clients accessing your contact information in a digital format? This gives you an excellent platform for having potential clients contact you about the goods or services that they’re interested in, and there’s no confusion as to why you’re not answering the phone or messages that they’ve been sending through.

Instead, make it very clear that all new clients have to use the form upon initial contact with your business as part of your policies. You can set up a hire me page that provides interested individuals with all the details about who you are, what you do, and you can even include your rates if you’d like. Not only does it streamline the process for you when it comes to obtaining new customers, but it helps to filter out those that reach your page and decide that maybe you’re not who they were looking for after all. It saves everyone a lot of time and frustration right from the beginning if you outline the specifics upfront.

Another way to prioritize calls and sort through those potential incoming calls goes back to the answering service provided by Smith.ai. You could actually operate your entire business without ever picking up a telephone yourself. The virtual receptionist that works for you will gather all the details and send through the people that look like good candidates, and you decide who to call back and who isn’t worth the time or energy. That paired up with the hiring forms you receive will be more than enough to keep your company running at optimum levels from this point on.

Set business hours & make yourself available

Whether you have a building, a website, a social media profile, or simply a flyer that you’re handing out to people you think may be interested in your products and services, you need to define your business hours. It’s nice to have the freedom to come and go to work as you please, but it’s not always the most productive way to run a company.

Acquiring new clients isn’t always easy, and if they don’t know when to reach you, they might not even make an attempt. If they do try to reach you during traditional business hours and you don’t answer, it can mean a wasted opportunity.

It’s crucial that after you do set up your regular office or business hours, that you’re sure to be available to take calls during that time. When you advertise that you’re open between the hours of 9:00 am and 5:00 pm and a potential customer calls at 3:30 pm, they’re expecting someone to pick up the phone.

No response from you can tarnish your reputation because people aren’t afraid to share their experiences with friends and family members. “I tried to call Mr. Thomas, but he never picks up the phone when he’s supposed to be open.” Others will hear this and just go to the next person they have in line to do the same services that you’re providing.

Put Smith.ai in control & never miss a call again!

When you leave on a Friday night for the weekend, you have that bit of anxiety that creeps up as you wonder how many phone calls and messages that you’re going to miss. Every time a customer dials your number, it’s an opportunity to build your brand and boost your profits. However, if you’re not balancing out your work and personal life and creating those professional boundaries from the start, you could be doing yourself more harm than good. Instead of trying to take care of every responsibility and every lead that comes your way, implement some or all of the tips we’ve mentioned here.

Smith.ai Virtual Receptionist

Of course, we want you to take some very serious consideration into joining us and taking advantage of our 24/7 live virtual receptionist services offered. We’ve been doing this for a while, so we know how skilled and professional our crew is. Not only do we operate the phones for you while you’re off enjoying some of the more precious moments in life, but we can also start by screening out the spam callers absolutely free with your agreement to work with us. After we eliminate the time-wasters from the start, we will gather the data necessary to determine if the incoming calls, messages, and texts are quality leads that you should be prioritizing.

Calendar illustration, Calendly

Your first step to handling new customers and leads in the most efficient way is setting up a free 30-minute consultation with our crew. You can also have your questions answered and concerns cleared up by emailing hello@smith.ai or calling (650) 727-6484.

Sean Lund-Brown

Sean Lund-Brown is a current Marketing Assistant for Smith.ai. A graduate from Metropolitan State University of Denver, Sean graduated with a BA in Music and an individualized degree in Teaching Vocal Pedagogy.

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