Regardless of why we are leaving a voicemail, it is a tool we frequently use, and there are specific strategies you can employ now to make your messages stand out and be remembered.

We All Know This Feeling…

You feel a rush of excitement as your appointment reminder on your outlook tells you it is time to call your biggest prospect.

You quickly review in your mind what you want to say, envision their positive response, get in your last “cheerleader” words of encouragement, and you finally dial!

As you wait to hear the ring your heart rate increases even more, you can hear the “Hello” on the other end. One ring…..two rings…..three rings….then voicemail.

As you disappointedly listen to the recording you go from discouragement to frenzy in a millisecond as you realize you need to leave a message since they were expecting your call.

Your mind races in a thousand directions as to what you want to say. Before you can gather your opening line, you hear it……. “BEEP.”

A Neglected Art

Most of us have a love/hate relationship with voicemail. Sometimes, we secretly want it.

It allows us to avoid people or hard conversations. It can save time. Some circumstances force us to use it.

Maybe you can’t reach somebody after endless calls, or you committed to calling someone at a specific time.

Regardless of why we are leaving a voice message, it is a tool we frequently use, and there are specific strategies you can employ now to make your messages stand out and be remembered.

Despite the common act of leaving voicemail, the skill of “message leaving” still hasn’t received much attention, even though the messages you leave ARE a part of your selling process.

Your messages DO either contribute or take away from what you are trying to accomplish.

Think about this way, leaving a voice mail is basically like having a one sided conversation. You are talking to them, and they are not able to answer.

But there is a sender and a receiver so it is classified as a conversation.

All that to say, your voice messages do have an impact on your sales success and the client’s perception of you, so try the ten quick and easy tips now and make your messages give you the results you desire.

The Ten Tips

  1. Be A Benefit!

    Communicate in a way of “benefit” versus “just checking in”, or “following up.” People are only concerned with one thing: what’s in it for me (WIIFM). If you want a call back, give the client something they want. What I commonly hear in working with sales people is, there is a way to communicate their message as a “benefit”, they just don’t adapt their message to accomplish that end.

  2. Slow Down!

    I received hundreds of voice mails when I was a sales manager. One of the fastest ways to make me hit “delete” was if I couldn’t understand the name or company name of the individual. Surprisingly it happened often! There are two reasons to slow down when you give your name and number. First, when you pause and change your pace it re-grabs the listener’s attention. Second, they will know who you are and how to reach you.

  3. Give Yourself Permission To Call Back.

    When you leave a message operate with the assumption that although you are leaving a message that you believe will get a call back, just think and act as if you won’t. If you do you will let them know you will call them again if you don’t hear from them. This way, if they don’t call, you have already let them know you will be calling again.

  4. Play To Human Nature.

    We are all curious by nature, and your prospects are no different! Warning: this strategy can be touchy, but I have seen it work many times. Simply leave a message saying, “Hey Mark, it’s Mike. 888-555-5555,” and hang up. Here’s the catch. When people call you back they might think that was a “sneaky” move. To combat this thank them graciously for giving you a call and assure them your conversation will be quick.

  5. Getting Past the Gate Keeper & Getting That Elusive Appointment Without An Appointment:

    “Are they expecting you?” If I had a dollar for every time I was asked that on a cold call I would be Warren Buffet’s rival. An easy way around that while still being completely truthful is to leave a voice mail after hours and let your prospect know you are coming by. Be specific as you can with a time. Then, when you show up you can honestly say, “They are expecting me to come by.” In additional plus to this tactic is since they know you are coming they are not surprised when they hear you are at the office. It “warms” the call.

  6. Familiarity Breeds Confidence.

    Always get a name of the person at the company; the closer the association with your prospect the better. Psychologically, hearing a third party softens the call, and depending on the relationship and the previous calls, you can make it sound like an associate’s suggestion. Bottom line: people feel more confident in dealing with people when there are similarities. People can be the first shot at accomplishing that.

  7. The Fewer the Better.

    Imagine your message is like a stream of pure water. Any unnecessary word, “uh,” “umm,” or tangents are harmful contaminates that harm the water’s purity. Keep your message as tight as possible. Make the water pure. Don’t pollute your message with wasteful words and phrases.

  8. Don’t Fall Into This Trap.

    The majority of messages start with “How are you?” or “Hope you are well.” The longer your listener is disengaged, the less likely your chances of receiving a return call. Start your message with creative, original content. That is a sure way of getting and keeping their attention – I guarantee it!

  9. No Call Back Doesn’t = “No.”

    A tip I give all of my coaching clients is that not hearing back from a voice message does not mean a client is not interested, it just means they didn’t call you back! Don’t assume a “no.” Reframe a no call back due to the fact your customer was too busy. But don’t give up on a lack of call backs!

  10. The True Test.

    When was the last time you left a voice message for YOU and critiqued how effective it was? BETTER YOUR BEST! Suggestion: leave yourself a message, critique it, and then leave another one and pick it up a notch. Compare the two and recall what it took to leave your best message. Believe it or not, you will remember these small improvements the next time you leave a message.

Fortunately you do not have to look far to measure how effective your messages are. Just look at the results.

Are you getting call backs? Are your voice messages remembered? The proof is in the pudding!

Action Step #1:

Partner up with a fellow sales person. Swap voice messages and then critique each other. Many times the best learning comes from teaching!

Action Step #2:

Leave yourself a voice mail. Would you call you back? Would you at least be interested from your initial message?

About the author

Mark Heerema

“Mark is nationally recognized for his work in debunking unchallenged, long held sales myths…

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