Tell them to call the manufacturer directly. Suggest they ask to speak to the president of the company when they call and ask him/her.
We take down their name / email address and phone number. Then, have someone email them with instructions on how to buy from our store and we'll deliver locally.
We include wire-transfer and an address where they can send a check.
Usually get one or two good orders this week.
Let me clarify - these are products that we DO sell.
Often, for us, parts or supplies for something they already own.
It's not something they're thinking of buying, but something they need or have to have.
The conversion rate on these calls has always been bad - no matter what we tell them, they just go 'on down the list' and call the next company to ask the same stupid question.
Only satisfaction I get is knowing my competitors are having to waste THEIR time also with these people.
If you dont have a desire to send customers to the competition the best answer is "I have no idea".
I normally try to be helpful. If you've got to spend your time talking to them, you might as well get some good karma while your at it.
I have noticed these calls are coming from people that need the product now. Not tomorrow which is the fasted available shipping time. We sell consumables, so when a person / business runs out of this stuff and dont plan ahead, they always try to get it that day. I always tell them to check the yellow pages.
In our industry we find that people also quite often ask if we have a local installer or showroom in their area. Well, he answer is mostly "no" so we spend time with them on the phone on selling not only the product but selling our companies value.
We have an extremely high/quality customer level that we try to maintain. We often will even recommend that if they can visualize (touch & feel) the product in their local market, GREAT. But then we always follow that up with why they should buy the product from us and not in their area, if they're outside of ours.
I've said for several years now that we're never going to stop consumers from wanting to 'touch & feel' the products, but what we need to offer is a higher perceive value than what they can find in their market.
We use a special instruction for phone support. She/he must say “Yeah… you’d like to buy IT… IT costs $XX in our shop… Where are you from exactly? Yeah… we can deliver it to you before XX.XX… total price will be $XX with XX days for return… so… you can buy IT locally for about $2*XX… I’m sorry, are you really going to pay almost a double price?
If customer answers “Yes” support says “hm… I’m sorry, have no idea.”
But about 50% of them change their mind.
We have a special page on site Search.Widgets.com where we send these people.
This page is feed by YSM XML ads (but you could do the same with adsense if you have no XML feed contract) tell them to go to that page and click on everyone there and call them - hey that way you should make 5-10 bucks in PPC revenue. We also send people there who call about items that we don't stock.
If the local store gets to hear that 'widgets online' is behind some of his/her customers then when someone asks at the local store for something they don't stock - you've a chance of the owner saying 'try widgets online...'
What comes around, goes around.
If you want to make sure your good deed was noticed, phone the local store 'to check if they had it in stock' as you had been sending customers their way...
NEVER EVER, refer them to someone else.
If that company doesn't deliver your company looks bad and you don't have any control over this.
Let them know this.
Offer a upcharge for next day delivery if you can deliver.
If they aren't interested, end the coversation in a nice way. You should be able to keep the call under 1 minute this way.