Leaving an Effective Voicemail Message

I recently responded to a dealer’s question as to whether or not he should leave a voicemail response when making a prospecting phone call. My gut response was: “Why wouldn’t you?”. Then it occurred to me that question behind the question was really: “Why should I leave a voice mail when it is unlikely that I will get a call back?”

Based on that question, my response would be the same, but with some additional information. Why would you take the time to make a call and then hang up when you go to voicemail? Of course you want to leave a voicemail message! But, understand that you may not get a call back after the first call. Just make sure that the message you leave provides a compelling reason to call you back.

Cold calling can be hard, but, if done correctly, it can help move the prospect to want to do business with you. Calling to touch base is a wasted call – for you and for your prospect. Recognize that his time is valuable, too, and your message is an unwanted interruption in his day. If you do not have something compelling to say, you are deleted before you even get started. If you are not providing immediate value to the prospect in the first few second,s your opportunity disappears with the flick of a finger.

Remember that, in a world where everyone has more things to do than hours in the day to get them done, you must emphasize value at each touch point. The more value you provide, the more touch points you will be granted. If you have had previous contact with the client, use information gathered in that meeting to move forward in the sales process:

“Bill, you mentioned that your primary lead-generating tradeshow is just a few months away. If we are going to maximize your results at this year’s show, we need to put into play the strategy we discussed right away. Let’s get together and discuss implementation plans.”

If you have not had prior contact, then share insights and knowledge about the client’s business. Your client wants to work with knowledgeable people who can help him, not the other way around.

“Jim, a number of my customers are also printers, and they report a steady decrease in the quantity of items that they are printing for their clients. I’d like to share with you a couple of ideas we have implemented for them to not only stop the slide of revenue, but actually increase their gross revenues and bottom line profits without adding expensive equipment or requiring additional staff. When would be a good time to get together?”

At times, your client may seem to have no good reason to not move forward, yet they still hesitate. In these cases, you cannot tell what she is thinking. There may be myriad reasons why they have not pulled the trigger. One of these may simply be “the devil you know vs. the devil you don’t.” In these cases, you simply must empathize and continue to educate your prospects. A message like:

“Sally, I know that you have limited time and resources, that you feel you are already overworked, and that the thought of developing a new service offering may be overwhelming to you right now, but I wanted you to know we are here to help you every step of the way. I am sending you our process overview to help you see that what we are providing goes along well with your current processes. Let’s set up a time to discuss your concerns.”

If you are not leaving meaningful and relevant messages, then you are simply wasting time. You must provide value to your customers today in order for them to continue to want to do business with you or to switch from the status quo.

As an executive with a good memory and excellent tonal recognition that gets too many sales calls from people who simply want to sell me their products and/or services, I thought I would share with you some of the biggest mistakes I encounter from people attempting to talk to me.

Here are the top 5 voicemail mistakes made while prospecting:

1. Pretending you have called before when you haven’t.

2. Not planning your message in advance.

3. Talking about your products/services, instead of a problem resolution that matters to me.

4. Not leaving your name and contact at the end of the message. Better yet, leave it at the beginning and end so that a prospect does not have to listen to the whole message to copy the information. Also, speak slowly; this is not the time to see how quickly you can leave the information. If your message is of interest, nothing kills that interest more than having to hit replay a dozen or so times trying to figure out what your number is.

5. Giving up too soon. Most prospects won’t return your call until you have tried them more than 9 times. I am no different. Even if I am interested, life may prevent me from returning your call at that moment and I am not going to look for your number when I am ready.

Use these tips to improve your calls and messages. These strategies for leaving a message are even more important when you do get through.

Let me know your thoughts – agreements or disagreements – and anything that has worked well for you.