Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Voicemail Paradox

How many times have you called a prospect or suspect and leave a voicemail? Better yet, how many times do you get a call back from that voicemail? It can be the most frustrating part of the day for any business development rep, calling and leaving voicemail after voicemail after voicemail. Never getting to hear their own phone ring because not a single person is calling them back.

Leaving effective voice mails is both an art and a science, much like selling itself. It is a skill that can be mastered, and there are a number of rules that need to be followed.

Less is More

Have you ever received a voicemail that went on and on? Did you listen to the whole message? Most people have an attention span of under 45 seconds when it comes to voice messages so I coach sales people to stay under 30 seconds. The catch is you need to say something that will interest the prospect enough to call you back, in as few words as possible. Leaving an entire 3 minute elevator pitch or value proposition will not get you a call back.

Regardless of your product and target market you can craft a creative and compelling short voicemail. Doing A/B testing is always a good idea. For some an ultra short vague first voicemail works best:

"Hi John, it's Paul. Sorry I missed you, I can be reached at 202-555-1212." 

Others require a bit more detail:
"Good morning Sandra. This is Anita at ABC Company. We provide specialized sales training that will increase the number of qualified appointments your sales teams make every week. We believe in our program so much we will guarantee the results. Call me at 202-555-1234 to learn how this program can increase your sales!"
Try a couple versions and track results to determine which will work best in your industry.

No Filler Words

This is one that drives me crazy. Listening to voice mails full of "ums" and "ahs" and "ers". If you are going to call a prospect you should know exactly what you want to say to them or their voicemail when connected.

Other words that fall in to the category of filler words include (but are not limited to):


Avoid these at all costs as they will weaken the impact of your message and reduce the chances of the desired call back.

Be Confident

Nothing encourages a immediate deletion of a voicemail more than a voice lacking in confidence and energy. Smile when you talk, stand up, move around if possible. Speak with volume (not shouting) and authority. Prospects can hear your smile, your energy and your excitement.

Be sure that your confidence does not grow beyond that in to arrogance or smugness. Speak slowly enough that the prospect will be able to write down your number the first pass through and not have to listen to the voicemail again.

Time of Day

Take the time of day in to consideration, remembering the goal is to speak to the prospect. If you know they will be available in the morning call then. The best voice mails are the ones you don't have to leave because you reached the prospect on the first call!

Any tips or tricks you use in your prospecting to increase call back rates? Leave them in the comments below.